You know it’s been a tough month when your car gets towed, and you are actually excited to have a fairly cut-and-dry, fixable problem. So it was for a few weeks ago, on a day when I was scheduled to teach four classes in three different locations. When I left my apartment to head out to the first one, my car was not where I had parked it the evening prior.
While I wouldn’t recommend purposely parking your car illegally (I really thought I was in a legal spot! in my apartment complex lot!), or otherwise creating such expensive problems for yourself to solve as post-election pre-holiday stress relief, I would recommend finding ways to take action on problems that do exist. I’m reminded of these words:
Don't be discouraged by your incapacity to dispel darkness from the world. Light your little candle and step forward. ~ Amma, the hugging saint
For me, this sounds great…for about two minutes. It’s harder to put into practice. How can I meaningfully “step forward” when there are only 24 hours in a day? How can I show up for rallies and protests, make time to call my representatives, and volunteer for local organizations when my schedule involves…a lot. Here’s the thing – that has always been true. The questions can become, how can I use my yoga practice and self-care to generate energy and manage my time, so that I have more time/money/energy for stepping up? How can I live my values and own my choices?
Here are a couple ideas to get you started:
1. Get sleep. It is really hard to smash the patriarchy without a good night’s rest. For me, keeping a circadian rhythm means that I have to stop practicing handstands, reading upsetting news, or looking at a screen well before bedtime. If I’m doing my asana practice late at night, I try to keep it on the gentle side, or at least eliminate jump transitions. (If you need to look at a screen when it’s dark out, I highly recommend installing the app f.lux – it filters out some of the blue light from our screens at night.)
2. Be with your body – get upside down, rub your feet, put on a heating pad. Inversions are said to be a very generative category of yoga poses, as they change our perspective, invite gravity to work on our lymphatic and circulation systems in a different way, and they’re fun! When I’m exhausted at 5 p.m. and it’s already dark outside, I’ll try to go into legs up the wall for a few minutes for a recharge – because I know that if I crawl into bed, I will stay there. Similarly, rubbing my feet or placing a heating pad on my neck is a way of caring for my body without asking for it to work that hard. (Psst – Marietta Vis and I are co-teaching a workshop this month that’s all about breaking up restrictions that keep us from moving with ease and getting upside down in a supportive way – see details and sign up here).
3. Say no. When someone invites you to do/buy something that you don’t want to do/have, say no! It can be so hard to say no, especially around the holidays, and especially if you are a natural caregiver and people-pleaser. But if you keep saying yes to things that drain you, then you will have less time/money/energy for you and things you care about.
4. Simplify food. Once or twice a week, can you roast a bunch of cut up hard greens (broccoli, Brussels sprouts, green beans) and roots (carrots, onions, sweet potatoes, winter squash)? Simultaneously or on another day or two, can you cook up one pot of grains and one pot of beans (or open a can!)? Tada! You can get in the habit of always having the cooked ingredients ready to make simple, nutritious comfort food. For a bit more warming bite and variety, add a salsa, chutney, or spice mix to each mixed-up bowl of plant-based goodness.
5. Let go of doing everything perfectly. Spend less time attempting to find perfect gifts and write perfect emails. It’s the thought that counts.
What self-care practices are non-negotiable for you? Do those.
If coming and practicing with me this month is non-negotiable for you – here are a couple extra practices I’ll be leading this month:
- Sunday, Dec 18 // 2:30 – 4:30 p.m. // Align Into Action with Marietta Vis at Blue Heron Wellness // In this workshop, Critical Alignment Yoga teacher Marietta Vis will help yogis release fascial restrictions that inhibit function and range of motion in the shoulders and upper back. Then, I’ll lead a progressive practice that strengthens and integrates healthy movement patterns for the whole body. We'll close with supported inversions using special Critical Alignment props (all the way from the Netherlands where Marietta trained in CAY), so that we can enjoy the benefits of going upside down without putting weight through the cervical spine.
- Keeping Spirits Bright at Willow Street Yoga
When regular classes are on break at Willow Street over the holidays, we practice as a mixed-level full-hearted community of yogis. From Monday, December 19, to Friday, December 30, there is a 10 a.m. practice in Takoma Park and a 7 p.m. practice in Silver Spring every day. I'll be teaching the following special $10 drop-in classes:
· Friday Dec 23 / 7 - 8:15 p.m. / Vinyasa Flow / Silver Spring
· Sunday Dec 25 / 10 - 11:15 a.m. / Yoga / Takoma Park
· Monday Dec 26 / 10 - 11:15 a.m. / Vinyasa Flow / Takoma Park
· Friday Dec 30 / 7 - 8:15 p.m. / Vinyasa Flow / Silver Spring
I hope to see you before the year draws to a close. But either way, I hope you know that I am grateful to you and wish peace unto you, peace unto me, peace unto us all….shanti, shanti, shanti…
ps. One of the yoga teachers I have trained with wrote a new book! If you are looking for resources about a body-positive approach to yoga, I highly recommend Anna Guest-Jelley’s teachings. Check it out - Curvy Yoga: Love Yourself & Your Body a Little More Each Day.
pps. December 2016 NSFY playlist: