Let’s face it, holidays can make time management a nightmare. On top of your regular job, family and general maintenance of shopping, cooking, eating, cleaning, you’ve to lots of extra errands, parties, goodies to make, pressies to wrap, surprises to plan - and less time to get the work side of things done!
The holidays are a wonderful, magical time, full of celebrations, old friends and family, surprises and wonder. Lights, decorations, sweets, sacred celebrations, sledding, ski trips, moonlight walks with sparkling snow.
Do you keep your yoga practice up? Do you give it up? If you give it up, what will take the place of the calm and feeling of wholeness you have after class? If you keep it up, what errands don’t get done? Or is there something else that can give?
If you keep your practice, do you schedule twice a week classes? Do you scale back to one? Do you carve out 15 minutes before the rest of the house wakes - or after they’re in bed? Or both?
In addition to regular, skilled teaching, a Home Yoga Practice is the best way to remain flexible through the scheduling chaos of the holidays. And it’s always there for you! Because I can’t always be there when the lines are long and people at work or while shopping are rude, it’s important you have a practice where you develop your inner guide and your ability to hear that guide when it whispers, “Soft belly breath… relaxation response…” or “Remember how Warrior pose feels? You can be kind and brave - channel that!”
When you have a regular practice of 15 minutes most days you are more likely to respond from what you’ve practiced than your inner control freak - not that you have one, but you’ve got some inner routine that likes to take over from a place of less calm, less understanding and less awesomeness than you have when you practice.
And this is a self-reinforcing cycle. When you begin to respond from your practice, your stress levels don’t rise, others don’t respond from their inner rage-a-holic as much, more peace reigns, less cortisol pumps and your awesome shines.
That's why I created the "Zen for the Holiday" HYP Workshop. In this 2 hours, we’ll plan for your yoga practice. I’m not going to tell you what you need for your home yoga practice or for the holidays, preach about coming to class or give you minimums. This is your time to reflect, imagine, play and plan.
I’ll give you some basic ideas about go to techniques for creating energy, connection and calm and options. You’ll decide what’s most important to you and what resources you have and how to leverage those resources to feed your light and let it shine hot, long and bright.
After this workshop, you'll have all this wrapped up and waiting for you every day!
You've just experienced the bandhas. True, there's far more practice, finesse and exploration to do, but it would be disappointing if 7,000 years of investigating the human body were completely revealed in a 30 second exercise. This is, of course, just the beginning.
In May's Yinyasative classes, we'll be using three different breathing techniques to connect to, engage and release and explore the usefulness of the bandhas. While pelvic floor connection and engagement does indeed have the benefits showcased on "The View," you now also see some of the more mundane, but at least as practically applicable benefits of exploring this connection.
We'll then take that sense of connection and apply it in a variety of postures to create experience and strength in the "true core."
Join us to be guided through a selection of some of these postures and techniques in every class (we'll get through this and more in the workshop on the 16th, with modifications available for all levels). Check out the small group class schedule and scroll down to register for your first free class!
or how do "How you do it" meditations work.
Last month I posted the first half of a list of “How you do it” meditations, explored more deeply in the “Meditation for Busy People” Workshop. Since that workshop is being repeated in October, I thought I’d dive a little deeper. How do “How you do it” mini-meditations work?
A “How you do it” meditation is simply turning your daily activities into meditations. After all, meditation is to prepare us for life, so taking our meditative mind off the mat extends the sphere of our cushion. These kinds of meditation have at least three advantages: first, you can plan triggers that remind you in the middle of your crazy day to shift perspective (for instance, breath meditation at stop lights); second, you can build that bridge from cushion to car (where you practice habits has an effect on how deeply they change you); and finally you can score some meditation even on days that start too early to even stop for breakfast and end so late you can only topple into bed (regularity is part of the power of practice).
But what makes these mini-meditations work? You may have noticed that if all you do for a week or so are mini-meditations, they’re power isn’t so great and you may begin to feel like they’re not “doing” anything. Some folks have even called these mini-meditations a cop out, adjusting for the sound bite culture or commodification. And they may have a point.
While I’m in favor of even the smallest, seemingly meaningless introductions to yoga and meditation I understand why some may be dubious about their gravity and power. Alone, they lack substance. However in my experience, the most powerful things begin and are sustained through hard times by the smallest, seemingly insignificant actions. If all someone does is to practice three mindful breaths at a stop light, I agree their life is unlikely to change immediately (though the first time may feel earth shaking!). But to scoff at three mindful breaths, or the commitment to have them, is to seriously over estimate the amount of time most people are successfully present on the cushion or underestimate the power of desire, intent and awareness.
My experience in my own practice and in supporting students’ shows that transformation begins with action just like these.
These mini-meditations gain power, depth and meaning once you are practicing some form of sitting meditation nearly every day. Even these specially marked and carved out times for just sitting can begin very minimally - as few as two, three or five minutes, practiced regularly, over time, wear a groove in the psyche (memory traces as well as neural pathways) that makes expansion, connection and depth greater and easier over time.
The only “trick” is to start. Once started, these practices - when we don’t use them to flog or judge ourselves, one more yard stick not measured up to - are synergistic. The “trick” is to start where you are, when you are, with all the hustle and bustle of the life you currently have. If you’re going from zero to something, try mini-meditations. Or try two minute scheduled sitting meditations. But just one, for 11 days. Just one. Your practice will grow. It is a practice because it is regular, because it is a clear break from your day, dedicated to presence, awareness and observation. Will it qualify you to apply for that open monastic abbot position? Um, no. But your life is already full to overflowing, right? That’s why you’re starting here. Your practice, while not the most difficult, rigorous or intense is sustainable. And what is sustained sets down roots, yields fruit and grows.
What makes mini-meditations “work” is intention, regularity and awareness. The daily-ness or the every-ness: every dish washed, every stop light, every night before bed, every morning after tooth brushing - whatever your “every” is. That’s where the power abides: in your awareness, lavished on your experience, every. Without judgment, without pushing and with regularity.