Gratitude: Holiday Season 2013

As I sit on my yoga mat preparing for my practice, the smell of our Christmas tree brings a nostalgic sensation through me and I smile. My mind takes me back to Christmas’s of the past, feelings of joy and gratitude, and I find myself wanting to look at old pictures and reminisce with loved ones. As my mind wanders back to yoga, which I still have not started, I think of nostalgia, holidays, and yoga, and how it brings such different thoughts and feelings to each individual and how the practice, sadly, may take a back-burner during this season.

This time of the year is termed the “season of joy”, with holiday parties, festive lights, big smiles, and generous hearts. The expectation is that everyone is merry as we celebrate this beloved time of the year. However, the holidays can bring unpleasant emotions for some people. It creates a lot of stress, feelings of sadness and loneliness, and perhaps haunting memories. My job as a counselor becomes quite busy and I continually encourage individuals to seek stress-reducing activities such as yoga.

The practice of yoga is therapeutic in so many ways; it truly is a wonderful gift. However, at this time of the year, people often put this practice on the back-burner because they are “so busy”. Why is it when we need yoga the most, we do not take advantage of this gift? Perhaps being “too busy” for yoga and rushing through the motions of the holidays, protects individuals from experiencing the negative sensations this season may bring up. Or possibly is it, that we do not put our own needs first; a common concern in our society. Yes, it is necessary to be kind, compassionate, and nurturing to others, but it is essential to give it to ourselves as well, especially during the holidays. During my practice, I often find my mind wandering to the past or thinking of people. Perhaps others may experience this, and they do not want to think of holidays of the past. I’m not sure why at this time of year, when the season is supposed to be full of joy and giving, one’s yoga practice does not sustain or become a priority.

With the days becoming shorter and colder, it is important to keep our body, mind, and soul full of light and warmth. This is one of the many benefits I receive from yoga. My yoga practice, both at home and at Sangha Space, fill my heart with joy and gratitude creating the inner light my soul desires. The physical part of yoga itself creates the warmth in my body, which continues well after the practice ends because it warmed my heart. And when my mind drifts and memory- triggers such as Christmas trees or lights remind me of the holidays; I know how fortunate I am that my recollections are joyful. I am grateful for all of this.

This is a time to be extra compassionate for those who are not so blessed. As their memories may not be so positive, their lives are overstressed, and there is not much joy around them, compassion, kindness, and possibly yoga may be a huge support.

This season of joy, where the focus is on giving presents, think of a wonderful gift that you can give to yourself, the beautiful gift of yoga. And if thoughts take you to unpleasant memories of holidays past, gently and kindly bring your attention back to the present, to this amazing gift you gave to yourself-Yoga.

“In giving, we generate warmth; in giving, we feel connected; in giving, we discover love.” ~Unknown

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