I don't know about you but I've found this week hard.
I feel exhausted and although I love Christmas, I do feel a bit overwhelmed at the prospect of the next few weeks and sad for the people who I know are struggling with the restrictions around Christmas this year. It's so easy to slip into old habits of letting my mind race ahead and anxiety creep in, so it's a daily practice to remind myself to take each day as it comes, but when I do succeed in that reminder it does make all the difference.
The practice of meditation is brilliant at helping with this. Taking as little as 5 minutes to just pause and bring all of your attention to one thing - your breath, your body, a visualisation, mantra or a candle - can be like pressing the reset button on your mind.
But don’t get me wrong, even though I know it’s good for me, that doesn’t mean that I’m perfect in adhering to a regular practice, like I feel I should be. Yet that’s one of the wonderful things about yoga. It reminds you that you’re not perfect, you don’t need to be, and that acceptance of yourself just as you are is incredibly powerful and something to work at every day. We practise yoga so that we can feel better and be better towards ourselves and others. We practise yoga so that we are healthier, happier, kinder to ourselves and others. We practise.
There is no end point in life when we have achieved perfection, and the same is true for yoga. I have not trained to become a yoga teacher because I am the perfect yogi and have the perfect daily practice, I am a teacher because when I’ve been through difficult days, yoga has helped me get through them and I want to share the gift of yoga with others.
There will still be days when it’s hard to practise because I know that sitting with my thoughts may unleash some fears or pain that I’m struggling to process, but I know that when I’m ready it will do me the world of good.
There will be days when my body is weary and achy and I think that the last thing I want to do is a physical practice, and yet that is what my body is screaming out for.
Some days we give ourselves time to process, to rest, to move and feel, and some days we don’t. It doesn’t mean we’ve failed, it means we’ll try again tomorrow and the tools that yoga provides to look after ourselves are ready and waiting for us. We just need to practise and it will get easier.
So over the coming weeks, I know that I need to keep working to develop my practice of yoga, and all that it encompasses. Not for any aesthetic reasons or so I can do the ‘perfect’ handstand, but because I know that when I do practise yoga, whether an asana (physical), meditation or pranayama (breath) practice:
I am building the muscles in my body and mind that make me feel stronger and more resilient;
I am giving myself the opportunity to check-in and really know how I am feeling;
I am actively lowering my stress hormones; and
I am regularly taking my body out of the ‘fight or flight’ sympathetic nervous system and into the ‘rest and digest’ parasympathetic nervous system, where we can heal, think more clearly and prepare for rest.
I will let you know how I get on with my own personal practice next week, but coming to your practice... do check out this week's schedule for both classes and free online practices.
Please do reach out if I can support you further at the moment, I always love to hear from you.
Sending so much love and strength to you this week,