The Joy of a Winter Practice
Ironically I enjoy my asana practice most at this time of year. The depths of winter, particularly in Scotland, with our long dark nights, tend to bring up the instinct to hibernate and be still. It is important to honour this need to rest, mirroring nature. But everything in moderation. If we overdo resting it can lead to inertia, making it difficult to move forwards, or even move at all. Ayurveda teaches us that like increases like. Meaning in winter overdoing rest increases inertia. So back to asana practice – a balanced practice creating flow and gentle warmth help move us away from inertia. Be creative with your practice and notice how it feels. I often encourage students to close their eyes and really feel. Not just the general feeling but deeper, much deeper. Have a curiosity about the way the body is moving, what muscles are activated, does it feel right and good for your body? By moving in this way you start to move more intelligently, an intelligence guided by a deep awareness. This deep awareness helps create the stillness, a mental presence. This in turn creates the right conditions for meditation. Winter is a wonderful time to develop your meditation practice. The depths of winter, after the busyness of Christmas and New Year are a naturally quieter time. As I am writing this I am looking out at deep snow and a heavy fog settled over the snow. Everything about nature is still. So I encourage you to find a quiet, warm place at home, find a cushion and sit, just sit and let your mind mirror nature, maybe using the image of snow as your point of concentration. Create the heat in your physical asana practice and then find stillness in your meditation. A perfect winter balance. Enjoy your practice.