Yoga advises following the flow of nature, whether that is the breath, the seasons or how our own particular life unfolds. This is born of recognizing the immense intelligence that exists within life, it’s harmony, how it moves in unison and the subsequent effortlessness of us allowing life to move through us and around us in this way. As we move towards midwinter and the darkest time of the year, if we listen to our instincts we find that as nature slows down and comes to a point of rest or near stasis as the wheel of the year turns, that a similar desire exists in us. That with the shorter days and dark nights, we’re drawn towards a hibernation of some sort, as we want to sleep a little longer, rest more and withdraw from the world.
Of course the irony is that in modernity, there is little time for rest and in fact in the run up to xmas we can actually find ourselves busier than usual. Preparations for xmas, shopping, pressure to finish work projects before the holidays etc, more social expectations….
However you are really under no obligations, to conform to all of this, in fact as yoga often inspires a change in how we respond and react to life, just as we may decide to alter how we stand, sit, orientate the body or the breath due to having observed ourselves, we can choose to respond to this time of the year in a new way.
The widely remarked upon fact is the continued commercialisation of xmas, homes with bigger glitzier decorations, more extravagant celebrations, more food, more drink. Another imposal unto the world and people driven by what?
In Ireland we only have to listen to an older generation, that didn’t experience a physical, material affluence at Christmas, but certainingly shared a generosity of spirit, a warmth, kindness and friendliness amongst family, friends and neighbours.
The yogic texts talk of the qualities which mark out the yogi or yogini, these are often summarised as friendliness, kindness, joyfulness, equanimity. All qualities which are felt and experienced by those around us. and perhaps qualities of nature too. Many texts on Yoga remark upon how those who encounter a Yogi or Yogini feel their presence and are transformed by it, that those who may have dubious motivations, wild animals etc find themselves peaceful and soothed by the vibrations of the Yogi.
These qualities are created by the Yogis sincere practice and sadhana, they’re not qualities arising from material ownership, power etc. Perhaps by being relaxed and peaceful in the midst of all the busyness, may endear you more to everyone who comes into contact with you and your presence may be your greatest present to all who encounter you. Maybe this year your gift to yourself will be the opportunity to rest within your being, your presence and to allow this to extend out into the world around yourself.
Very best wishes for Christmas and the new year.