Now that I live in a city where I have to walk and commute through both snow and freezing cold temperatures, I'm finding my willingness to go anywhere except work and home has decreased substantially. Whether we want it to or not, winter very much impacts our yoga practice. How should we approach our yoga classes in a way that doesn't overtax our already stressed minds and nervous systems, but simultaneously helps to combat our winter blues?
"Practice and all is coming."
-Sri K. Pattabhi Jois
To an outsider, yoga culture can seem very cultish. It is filled with its own luminaries, attire choices, and even vocabulary. The word "practice" is teeming with this type of mystical connotation. If you've ever stepped into a yoga class, or even talked to friends that have, you will notice that everyone uses the word "practice" to describe their yoga activity. I can still recall the first few classes I ever took and my feeling of apprehension when teachers would ask their students, "How is your practice coming along?" or the tiny bit of envy when another student was complimented on their "strong practice." I have since adopted the word into my vocabulary without really understanding the origin of the term.
This past weekend, I attended a series of workshops by one of my teachers, Maty Ezraty. During class, she said that when we (inevitably) discovered something new that we needed to work on, that we should approach the opportunity for self-improvement with joy and optimism. If we approach yoga in this way, our practice will always continue to grow, and we can find a method for staying positive and free of judgement from our own expectations. At the end of this discussion, she reminded us that "all we are doing is practicing every day," just practicing to get a little bit better each time.
“Moderation in all things, especially moderation.”
--Ralph Waldo Emerson
These days, the term "gluten-free" elicits strong emotions from those that hear it. On one end of the spectrum are the "obnoxious eco and health conscious constantly on their soapbox." On the other end are the "unconscious consumers of toxins." These are obviously caricatures of those on opposite sides of the very loud debate. However, I've found a surprisingly low amount of actual unbiased research on the subject, given the magnitude of publications about it online and in print.
Here is a short version of my gluten-free story: I have had a history of digestive issues since I was very young. Recently, after many visits to the GI doctor and what felt like a million tests, I've discovered that my body can't tolerate gluten. If you are interested, contact me because I LOVE to talk about my symptoms… However, since most of it falls into the "TMI" category, I won't go into much detail about here. I have since cut it out of my diet and feel better than I ever thought I could.
Yoga teaches us to cure what need not be endured and endure what cannot be cured.
My husband and I moved from Santa Monica to New York City last year in the middle of winter time. For those of you who are wondering, all of the myths about Santa Monica are true. Moving to NYC in the middle of winter provided a stark contrast to our carefree California days. We went fairly suddenly from sunshine and warmth to gray and chilly weather. I remember never wanting to leave our apartment and complaining about having to check the weather to the friends we left behind in LA. Little did we know what our second winter would have in store for us...
I have been joking to my husband that if we had moved to New York during these winter conditions, I would have immediately demanded that we turn around for the land of sunshine. However, since we've had about a year to acclimate to life without a car, I've found myself continuing my life under polar vortex conditions with little disturbance. I discovered that I am actually capable of waking up at 5:15am to teach in 10 degree weather and even have fun during class! Don't get me wrong--I am definitely grumbling about the weather along with everyone else. But, I have surpassed the expectations of a miserable life that I had for myself a year ago.