winter isn’t all that bad…

“The soul usually knows what to do to heal itself. The challenge is to silence the mind.”

– Caroline Myss

December is a time marked by waiting and introspection. In the northern hemisphere, we are snuggling in with anticipation of the dark days and nights of winter. Those of us who celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah are waiting, marking this interim time of expectancy and contemplation day by day.

While I truly love the giddiness, lights, sounds and sharing of the holiday season, I also truly dread the dark months of winter. I like to be outside all day; I like overbearing sunshine and bare arms and tan lines. I like sunglasses and sweating and frizzy hair and the expansive energy of summer. Winter is none of these things.

However, I’ve made it a point over the past few years to pinpoint and appreciate the silence and potential of the winter season. There is power in the silence of the season; there is promise in long evenings of introspection and heavy blankets and book reading. I’ve noticed that with this attitude, by New Year, I’ve gained a new appreciation of rest– both physically and spiritually– as if all I needed to do was to become quiet enough to listen to what my soul really needs.

Here are four ideas to help you appreciate the interim time of waiting and deep winter this year:

Drink herbal, warming drinks: In Ayurveda, the medicinal science of yoga, winter is an important time to eat root vegetables, drink non-caffeinated spicy drinks, and rest in the evenings. Try my favorite hot, herbal tea:

Cinnamon-Orange Peel Tea:

  • Place 1 cinnamon stick in your mug
  • Peel a medium-sized orange and add 1/2 its peel in your mug
  • Add 1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar
  • Add 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (optional)
  • Pour 10 oz. steaming water over your concoction and let it steam for 8-10 minutes and enjoy

Get Moving every day: Nothing screams depression like being sedentary. Try a physical activity that inspires introspection like running, walking or yoga. If you are stuck inside due to icy sidewalks, hit up my teacher Tiffany Cruikshank on YogaGlo.com. This is a high-quality online yoga site that offers classes with master teachers ranging from fifteen minutes to one hour.

Start a daily Reflection Practice: Winter is the perfect time to begin a daily reflection practice. Challenge yourself to turn off the TV a few minutes early before bedtime and spend ten minutes in reflection. Grab a journal and finish these sentences…

  • Today, I was inspired by…
  • Today I experienced love…
  • Today showed me that my Soul needs…
  • Today I am grateful for…

Re-commit to a daily Meditation Practice:  Dark mornings and evenings mean you’ll be inside anyway; sit down in a quiet place for ten minutes, light a candle and tune in to your intuition.

New to Meditation? Not sure how to start? Join me for my first ever on-line class, Distance Learning Class: Meditation for Stress Relief. This is the perfect introduction class for Beginners. Register through Westport Yoga KC today!

Meditation for Stress Relief DISTANCE LEARNING

Distance Learning: Meditation for Stress Relief

3-Week ONLINE COURSE January 27- February 10, 2019

Zoom Conference Meetings: 2 pm Sundays January 27, February 3 and February 10, 2019

In this distance learning class, you’ll master the 5 basic steps of Organizing a Meditation Practice that relieves stress and reduces anxiety.

You’ll learn the physiological benefits of meditation, bust some common myths of meditation and master 12+ stress-busting practices you can incorporate into your daily routine. Together in our Zoom Conference Meetings, we’ll learn and practice techniques to trigger our body’s natural Relaxation Response and have time for discussion in an intimate learning environment.

In between our 3 Zoom Conference Meetings, you’ll complete homework assignments and enjoy the opportunity to check in with your fellow classmates. You’ll also receive weekly Inspiration in your inbox from Lisa, encouraging a successful plan for at-home daily meditation practice.

The course includes a detailed e-manual for future reference. You don’t even have to leave the house! (Zoom is an online conferencing program available for free download.)

Spots are limited; registration closes January 22, 2019.

Register HERE.

Happy Wintering,

-lisa

cleansing breath routine to reduce stress.

“Our breath, like our heartbeat, is the most reliable rhythm in our lives. When we become attuned to this constant rhythm, our breath can gradually teach us to come back to the original silence of the mind.” -Donna Farhi

Every day while my laptop is powering up, I put a little dab of essential oils on my wrists, close my eyes and take three gargantuan breaths. With each big inhale and (obnoxiously loud) exhale, I push a re-set button; I update and restart again with a fresh perspective.

I’m a big believer in pranayama practice, which is the fancy Sanskrit name for specific breathing practices from the Yoga Tradition. I try to do a five to ten minute practice daily. but even a shortened breathing practice, like three big inhales and exhales before I open my inbox, is my go-to routine of self-care because it helps me transition from distracted to focused.

Maintaining a daily routine of anything (even eating 3 meals a day) is difficult for me; but when I do, I feel more balanced and whole. In the Yoga Tradition, living a balanced lifestyle is called brahmacharya. I introduced this concept on my blog previously in these articles: “balancing self-care: brahmacharya” and “yes please!“.

Brahmacharya shows up in our lives when we create routines that lead us away from distraction and instead lead us toward the constant, reliable rhythm of breath and inner contentment. As yoga teacher Donna Farhi reminds us in her classic Bringing Yoga to Life, our breath and our heartbeat are constant rhythmic reminders that a re-set is needed and helpful in maintaining a balanced life and inner contentment. Your breath is all you need.

New to pranayama breathing practices? Looking for a re-set button that reduces stress and helps you focus? Try this one:

Cleansing Exhale Practice: 7-5-3

  1. Sit in a comfortable position with your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Close your eyes.
  2. Take 3 comfortable inhales and exhales.
  3. Inhale through the nose for a count of seven.
  4. Retain the breath for a count of five.
  5. Exhale through the mouth, loudly and fully for the count of three.
  6. Repeat this 7-5-3 pattern three times.

Pause for a moment, breathing in and out of your nose without effort for a few rounds of breath. Notice how you feel. Gently open your eyes, refreshed and re-set.

I encourage you to add this to your morning routine; building a balanced and whole lifestyle starts a few minutes at a time, daily.

You can find additional Breathing Practices, which Audio to guide you, on my page Guided Meditation.

Happy Breathing,

-lisa