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Out With the Old and In With the New

How are those New Year’s Resolutions going? The New Year is usually the time most of us decide to make changes to our diet, lifestyle, and goals for the rest of the year. Unfortunately, the winter season does not necessarily afford us the luxury of following through on our new habits and plans. Wintertime encourages us to turn inward, retreat, and receive. Winter is a time to slow down and contract in the freezing cold temperatures. For many of us, it is heavy, slow and potentially stagnant and not the time to start something new, especially without seeing immediate results.

A better use of our time, may be in making use of the adage, “Out with the old and in with the new!” January and February are great months to utilize the cold dark days and nights to go through some of those piles of items that are taking up space and weighing you down. Late Winter and early spring is the Kapha (Water and Earth) time of year, according to the Traditional Healing Philosophy of India, Ayurveda, the sister science to Yoga.

This is the time of year when we need to be attentive to things in our nature that are heavy, things we may cling or attach ourselves to. According to my teacher, Maya Tiwari, “Clear unobstructed space is essential to Kapha’s wellbeing. Their greatest sadhana (practice) is to detach from unnecessary hoarding… and to determine what is absolutely necessary.”

As a Virgo, I love clutter clearing, and I have been particularly inspired by Marie Kondo’s book, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up. This book lays out a specific methodology for how to go through your things so that you will not obstruct your precious space ever again. And because Kapha wants to see immediate results and improvements, try Marie Kondo’s method which suggests going through your clothes first. But if even this seems too daunting, use your own method and start small. For example, if you would like to clean out your kitchen, start with one drawer. You will usually feel so great by the time you finish one drawer that you will keep going. Movement is a fantastic antidote to the heavy, contracted winter months and movement with an end goal is even better.

For more information on how the change in seasons effects us and some recommendations for how to respond, as well as a luxurious restorative yoga class to support you during this time of year, consider attending our next seasonal retreat: Yoga to Lift the Spirits, A Seasonal Restorative Yoga Retreat on Sunday, February 25th, 1pm – 4pm.

Everything Can Wait Except for Love

I am pleased to share the second piece in a small series of pieces written for Catalyst Wedding Co., exploring how mindfulness practices can support greater presence and peace on your wedding day. Below is an excerpt from this piece, Everything Else Can Wait Except for Love:

“There is a Zen teaching that goes “when you have only a little time, meditate for 10 minutes. And if you have no time at all, then meditate for 20.” This teaching acknowledges that a sense of not having enough time is not an objective law, but rather a subjective experience, one that we can change.

Taking time for meditation is difficult, especially when we don’t feel like we have any time in the first place. Yet it is that very sense of time-deprivation that we stand to change by slowing down and making space.”

As we continue to move further into a new year, bustling with visions and goals, can we catch ourselves in the loop of thought that insists we have no time for all of it? How is your yoga practice a support for extending your sense of space in your body, peace in your mind, and time in your day?

Here’s to taking time to make time, and allowing more room in our lives for what makes our hearts sing.

Namaste.

 

 

Letting Go and Giving of Yourself

As we close out our first “official” year in business, and give thanks for all that we have experienced, learned and accomplished, we are taking stock of what works and what does not serve us. We just held our first Quarterly Retreat, in which we discussed some of the aspects of the Air Element. One aspect is its connection to this time of year when the natural environment is closing down, drying up, and turning inwards for the long Winter’s rest.  All of the natural world is taking stock.

In a couple of weeks, we are then asked to confirm our findings and make “New Year’s Resolutions” based on our latest discoveries and let go of what is no longer useful. If you observe yourself, your friends and family, and the natural world, you can see this evolution in action. Everyone is deciding what to keep and where to let go. What will you keep with you from this year and take into the next year?

There is a fine line, however, between deciding what is of quality and worth holding on to and what is “perfect”. One can show an imbalance in the Air element, by constantly striving for perfection. This constant striving for perfection can actually be covering up a sense of low self-worth, that somehow if we surround ourselves with things of importance, that we will become important and “valuable”.  It is a fascinating anthropological study, particularly this time of year, when consumerism is at it’s peak. Notice feelings in yourself of self-worth around what you can afford to “give” to someone.

Many of us are so far from the roots of the holiday season, which is about giving, miracles and celebrating the return of the light. It is not about giving in the material sense, but about giving of yourself, something so much more valuable than a sweater from wherever.

We encourage you to take some time to give of yourself this holiday season. Ask yourself, “Who is truly in need?” and “How can I be helpful?” Notice what changes in you when you do this. How does thinking of others and offering help make you feel? Spiritual wisdom traditions have always taught us that selfless service is a way out of ourselves. So what are you willing to give this holiday season?

Start Where You Are

Union Yoga is pleased to share the first in a small series of piece written for Catalyst Wedding Co., exploring how mindfulness practices can support greater presence and peace on the morning of your wedding day. Yet as we approach the HoliDAZE, meditations on how to stay grounded, joyful and sane are particularly timely. The below is an excerpt from this piece, Start Where You Are.

“The practice of accepting ourselves exactly where we are creates a more grounded and joyful wedding day, but it is also a foundational principle of mindfulness. (Or, if it jives better with you: it’s my party and I’ll feel weird if I want to). Sounds nice, right? But why can it be so hard to be exactly where we are, especially in extraordinary circumstances and on special days?”

To read the rest of the piece, continue here. 

 

 

Give Thanks

We are hosting Thanksgiving this year. I am very much looking forward to it, but as we mentioned before, it can be startlingly scattering to host an event, so much so that you can loose track of why you came together in the first place.

How can you remember to be grateful?

No matter who you are, events are more fun for everyone when you can share the responsibilities. Don’t be a superhero and think that you have to be responsible for every last detail. Try these three simple tasks.

1. Ask for Help.
2. Trust. Trust this person is doing the best of their ability.
3. Say Thank You. Thank You for helping. Thank you for contributing to this shared event.

Expressing Gratitude gets easier every time that you do it. It is recommended as a practice to alleviate anxiety and depression. Try this simple daily practice.

Check in with yourself first thing in the morning, before you even get out of bed.

1. Is there something I am grateful for in the physical world?

I am often grateful that I have strong arms and legs and I stretch them and strengthen my body on a daily basis. I am so grateful to be physically well.

2. Is there something I am grateful for in my mental/emotional life?

I am grateful to be intellectually stimulated at work and at home. I am grateful to be emotionally balanced

3. Is there something I am grateful for in my spiritual life?

I am grateful for teachers who guide me. I am grateful for my sense of intuition. I am grateful for my prayer and meditation practice.

Try this practice in the days leading up to and after your Thanksgiving Celebration. What Are You Grateful For?