It’s here–The dead of winter. The temperature has finally dropped, the snow and ice have made an appearance, and most people are already itching for warmer weather. While winter has so far been much more mild than usual, it is still easy to get down and out, tired and grumpy, or just plain sad this time of year. We often send our focus to what is ahead: Derby, warmer days, longer days, lake days, and BBQ’s. What we don’t realize is how much we are missing in the here and now.
Instead of wishing the days away, use winter as an opportunity to practice presence.
Use your breath to focus on bringing ease into each pose that you may struggle with in your physical practice, and during stressful moments off the mat.
Keep up with your practice, and don’t succumb to the laziness of winter. Our practice can bring warmth into our lives this time of year through the physical warmth of the studio, the connection of the community, and the satisfaction of taking care of yourself.
Appreciate taking things slow. We have time to challenge ourselves to something new before the busy spring and summer months come. In the cold of winter, we have time for self-inquiry, time to finally clean that hallway closet that everything seems to land in (we all have one), and look at our surroundings. Whether it’s your office, bedroom, or mind; you can observe, assess, and remove what doesn’t serve you.
We have time to dedicate to ourselves and our passions in general in the winter. Three-fourths of the year, time is usually spent outdoors at gatherings, festivals, and events. But all too often, we spend it thinking of the future and the coming months instead of the present.
Change your default from the winter blues to a winter renewal. This is the perfect time to focus on the positive things in your life right now and allow yourself to enjoy the here and now. Just like on the mat, we can use breath, focus, and our own heat to make the world outside the studio and off the mat even more amazing.
I’ve been a slow but persistent runner since I hit early adolescence. In college, it was no longer about times and practices but a release and an escape. If I had a bad day I would run—I was under the impression I was running through my problems. I kept the habit; running and running. I ran harder and longer the more stress I experienced in life. It didn’t matter that my times were nothing to brag about; I was just running and pounding out whatever tape was playing in my head. I was accomplishing races but even during this time swore I’d never run a mini; I told myself I couldn’t run that many miles.
After college, it all clicked. I was not running through my changes and situations that challenged me, I was running from them, I was running from myself. Not long after this realization, I wandered into my first class at 502 Power Yoga.
1. Yoga is cross-training…physically and mentally
Soon after joining 502PY I signed up for the 40 Days to A Personal Revolution program. I was learned so much through the practice besides cool poses and terms; I learned more about who I truly am and what is important to me. Through it, I decided to do the Mini Marathon with the support of my Yoga community and family. I finally had the confidence to run for me—not for getting away from the parts of life that are uncomfortable.
2. When my practice began
I woke up on race day; it was cold and going to rain. I did not want to do it. I pushed myself to get up and get to the course. I started and wanted to quit so bad just like I really wanted to quit uncomfortable poses sometimes in class. But I didn’t on my mat and didn’t in my race. It started to rain harder, and I stopped to breathe, and I began to focus on the quote so often repeated in class, “The pose begins when you want to get out of it.”
3. You Are Stronger Than You Think You Are
My race began at that moment. I started running harder not to pound away the discomfort or stress of the race but to embrace it and reach a new experience in myself. I finished my last five miles with a smile on my face, a better time than I expected, and a feeling not just of accomplishment but perfect happiness.
So much came together for me in that moment—when my months of practice on my mat clicked with my life outside the studio. The inquiry and breath, the strength to push through not only physically but mentally and emotionally—all those things surfaced for me during my first mini-marathon. I would not have signed up for the race without my practice in my life. I also know that I would not have shown up or completed that race without my Yoga community or without the self-love and strength that I have found through it.