According to the Celtic calendar, Imbolc- the first day of spring- occurred yesterday. I’m not feeling it. While it’s true that the days are noticeably getting longer, outside it is still cold, wet and gloomy. The wind irritates me most of all. I won’t consider it to be spring until the end of March when the temperatures start to rise, lambs appear in the fields, and buds begin opening on the trees.
I’m not a huge fan of winter. I struggle with the grey skies and lack of light. January was a tough month for me. I needed to put a lot of energy into work and practical stuff so I haven’t had much time for reading or my creative outlets. Sleep continues to be interrupted by my toddler which is an added challenge. Despite tiredness, I’ve made yoga a part of my daily routine to balance out the high energy fitness classes I teach. As a result, my mood has improved and the neck, shoulder, and upper back pain I’ve been experiencing is less intense.
My new yoga practice is nothing like the stress free days before Blessing was born. I used to go to class every week which isn’t possible at the moment. Some days I can only squeeze in 15 minutes at home. If I’m lucky I can have an uninterrupted session while he naps. I don’t have a set routine and I’ve given up on the idea of waking early. Instead I grab what I can: 30 minutes while dinner is in the oven, an hour before bed, or whatever I can manage while my family does its chaotic thing.
I no longer expect peace or quiet. I practice while my 17 year old blares his electric guitar and sings at the top of his lungs. I breathe while my toddler drives his toy truck up my leg as I hold Downward Dog. He has been known to straddle my back while I’m resting in Child’s Pose (assisted yoga takes on a new meaning!). When I was younger this would have frustrated me to no end. These days I just roll with it…
I love when my family participates. I’ve succeeded in persuading my son (a 22 year old power-lifter) and my partner to join me for relaxing yoga. It’s so cute when Blessing squeezes between us and attempts to do the poses too. I’m still hopeful that my 2 teenagers will also try it.
I’ve been a big fan of Ekhart Yoga for many years. Esther was my local teacher before she moved back to Holland and set up her business online. Check out her amazing site which offers a range of new classes each week and in depth articles. You can try it for free before committing to a membership. I had a monthly subscription but found I wasn’t using it enough to justify the price after Blessing was born. I’m thinking about joining again because there are more programs to choose from than what’s offered on Youtube. I like mixing it up with different styles; hatha, ashtanga, vinyasa flow, and yin yoga have benefited me in different ways.
If you’re like me and suffer from the Winter Blues, why not try this class? All you need is a half hour of your time, a mat (or even a towel could work in a pinch), and a willingness to try. I will never be like the Acrobat Mom and her kids, but that’s ok. I’m learning to accept imperfection… and even enjoy it. The goal is to create spaciousness in oneself, and that’s something each of us is capable of doing.
After each practice I feel somehow lighter. It’s a gradual transformation. If you’re new to yoga, be prepared for emotions to surface which might take you by surprise. It’s a holistic practice and goes deeper than the mere physical level. Often we hear about developing “yoga arms”- as if that’s the goal- and there seems to be an emphasis on the physical aspects of yoga in the west. I’ve noticed there can also be a competitiveness as participants compare their flexibility and progress to others in a class setting. That totally defeats the purpose in my opinion. What I value most about yoga is the stillness that evolves as my breathing deepens and my mind slows down. It’s the best practice for balancing body, mind, and spirit.
To learn more, watch a clip of the documentary The Science of Yoga here. Research indicates that yoga helps with depression and anxiety among other things. There is evidence showing that yoga has the capacity to change our brains and help cultivate resilience.
What has helped you combat the winter blues? If you do try this yoga class, please let me know how you get on in the comments section. Stay calm and cozy my friends!
“Snowdrops” Featured Photo by Kiwihugs