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Yoga Tips for Winter

Someone has named the third Monday in January Blue Monday. It is supposed to be the most depressing day of the year. Christmas with its message of hope is over, but it is as cold, dreary and DARK as ever. Are you finding it difficult to get out from under that duvet in the morning?

Sun-bg.comIt is only natural. Light sustains us. All life, all energy comes from the Sun: The Sun—the Source—the visible face of the divine. Om Sri Suryaya Namaha!

This year, “Blue Monday” came the day after Makara Sankranti, the great festival in India that celebrates the Sun beginning its upward journey for the Northern Hemisphere. For right now, the light is indeed returning. It always does! Time is cyclical, my friends, not linear, and the Sun rising and setting each day and each year is the measure of that.

sun puja yagyapuja.comGreat for India, you might say, but here we can’t even see the Sun for all the greyness looming over us day and night. And it is true. In northern climes—and particularly in Ireland—our yoga needs to be even more powerful in the winter. It needs to generate and nourish the light within. It can do that. And it just might make us stronger yogis for it!

Here are some tips for you, things that really help me at this time of the year. Try them, and together let’s bring on the light!

1. Early morning practice by candlelight. Go to your sacred yoga space, even if only a corner of your room where you spread out your mat, and light a candle. Close your eyes, engage your breath, and visualise the light moving along the length of your spine. Feel the power of light pulsing with your life force, infusing each cell, expanding your energy field and radiating luminosity into the darkness.

2. Then do your regular, daily practice. Great if you have time for a two-hour practice. My constitution thrives on long practices, so I organise my life (as much as possible) to make that happen. But do not despair if you only have ten minutes. Make the most of it. Go deep with the time you have. Whether it is a few asanas, some sun salutes, some chanting or pranayama, do it with intention and awareness. Make the candle flame your focus. It symbolises the Sun, your life force, your jiva.

3. Make hope the mantra of your heartbeat. Hope is powerful medicine. It counters fear, fatigue, depression, despondency, all types of negative energy. Hope is not living for the future, not wishful thinking nor a substitute for purposeful action. It is a state of mind that trusts implicitly in the wisdom of the cosmos, knowing that ultimately everything will be OK, because actually, everything IS OK right now, even though it might seem otherwise to our limited minds. Hope aligns our hearts with the divine, lifting us with optimism and lightening each moment with a quiet joy.

4. Take positive action to deepen your understanding of yoga. Nurture yourself by planning something special to give your practice a boost of inspiration. Yes, keep up the regular yoga classes (though not a substitute for your home practice!), keep reading and learning. But have a workshop or training or retreat to look forward to. Just having it in the diary can kindle hope. I always have to have something big I can see on the horizon, not just for that future moment, but for the energy it brings to the NOW.

Om Shanti