A Yoga Joes Holiday Salute

Just for fun, a client gave me a set of Yoga Joes for Christmas.

(It made my day)

By sheer coincidence, I discovered them a week ago. I saw an ad and my immediate thought was:

I want those!

I didn’t know anything about Yoga Joes, I just thought they were great. Turns out they were a Kickstarter project.

Dan Abramson created Yoga Joes to help promote yoga practice, especially among people who might not be likely to try yoga. He hopes to inspire beginners, men and veterans. In one interview, he explained:

Because yoga is for everyone, it reaches far beyond the cliche of a skinny, pumpkin spice latte white girl. All kinds of people can benefit from the strength and focus that comes from a good stretch, and I hope people who look at this toy, will consider giving it a try.

It’s the sort of thing I’ll never buy for myself, so it was a perfect gift. I received the original Yoga Joe set, with Headstand, Meditation (a.k.a. Easy) Pose, Cobra Pose, Warrior One, Warrior Two, Child’s Pose, Tree Pose, Crow Pose, and Downward-facing dog.

I really like the attention to detail. And I appreciate the accuracy of the poses, such as how the foot is placed above the knee in Tree Pose. The body type of the models is true to form (observe the shoulders in Child’s Pose:)

It was one of many gestures of kindness from all of the amazing people that I’m blessed to work with. To express my gratitude, I put together a little Yoga Joes salute in their honor.

I had so much fun playing with my new toy. They’ll most likely travel, but these are their starting points.

From our home to yours, wishing you a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.

 

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Winter Solstice

 

“Winter Solstice”

No more hurry

hurry,

time now for firelight

and dreaming,

for church bells

mingling

with the cold, quiet sunlight.

And somewhere

deep

inside of you

a kernel of courage

unfurling –

each day, more light.

– Irene Latham


“If you want to make God laugh, make a plan.” 

A friend once shared this tidbit of wisdom with me, and it still rings true whenever my plans fall apart. I had every intention of focusing on my practice for the month of December but my immune system has been on the ropes from three consecutive colds.

Thankfully I’ve had a chance to regroup, just in time for the Winter Solstice. In some ways it’s better to start a Personal Yoga retreat now because I’ll have fewer distractions over the holidays.

Of course, the ultimate goal is to merge working life seamlessly with your practice. But according to the great Sage Patanjali, the first of 13 Obstacles on the Yogic Path is sickness. There isn’t much we can do until we’re feeling better. So incubation is key, which falls in line with the power and presence of the Winter Solstice.

Winter Solstice Retreat

I like to begin a Personal Yoga retreat with a few simple preparations. These are especially beneficial if you haven’t been feeling well or have low energy from holiday season burnout. I recommend starting with Saucha, the second Niyama (observance) of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga.

The Niyamas are foundational practices that relate to our internal world. Saucha means purity or cleanliness of our internal and external worlds. When we engage in Saucha on an external level (such as our bodies), we are also affecting the internal (mind and spirit) parts of our beings.

If my house isn’t clean I have a hard time focusing on anything. So I like to practice Saucha with a thorough and intentional cleaning of my home environment. A few of my Saucha materials include:

  • White Vinegar Spray: Great for counter-tops, bathrooms and floors (dilute 50/50 with water).
  • Baking Soda: Mix with vinegar spray to create a paste for sinks or tubs.
  • Essential Oils: Lavender and Tea Tree are powerful antiseptics. Add a few drops to a sponge or mix with grain alcohol for a DIY air freshener. (For more information, read Freshen Indoor Air Naturally )

I love the way burning candles and diffusing essential oils can lift the feeling of a space. [Fun fact: I recently learned that burning dried sage can reduce airborne bacteria.] Another nice touch is a vase of fresh flowers in clean water.

I like to conclude a meditative house cleaning with a hot shower and a fresh set of clean clothes. These simple steps clear my mind so that I can drop more easily into my practice and refill my “cup.”

I hope these tips spark your imagination with creating your own Winter Solstice Retreat.

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Personal Retreat Reflections

I’m taking a personal retreat right now and have been diving into my practice. I’ve wanted to take a short sabbatical during the holidays for a long time. I feel very blessed to have this gift of uninterrupted time. My practice always aligns me with my inner rhythms which gives me the feeling of abundant energy.

Winter is a time for hibernation.

This is a time when the solar energy of the sun is in short supply. Energetically, winter is the season of apana. Apana (the downward current of subtle energy) is the force that governs elimination in the body (excretion, urination, menstruation). Psychologically, it’s best described as a state of introversion. In nature, apana is the force that draws sap into the tree’s roots.

The holiday season presents an interesting counterbalance, as it typically requires a great deal of output – emotionally, socially, financially, and physically. Being extroverted at this time of year doesn’t necessarily align with the laws of nature. And this can make us feel disconnected from our natural rhythms.

With so much emphasis on externalization it’s easy to fall into the mental trap of thinking that we are not enough.

Some people power through the holiday season like a marathon runner but overexertion might result in sickness. Eating foods that we don’t typically eat, drinking excess amounts of alcohol, and cold exposure can take a significant toll on our physical health. And the holiday season can lead to a number of mental health issues.

While it is possible to cultivate energy through the holidays, it’s very important that we have enough gas in our tanks. And we might not have the space in our schedules for taking a personal retreat. So what else can we do? Here are some simple suggestions of ways to practice refilling your “cup.”

  • Stay well-hydrated: drink plenty of room temperature, filtered water. 
  • Eat the most beautiful food.
  • Be mindful of CATS (caffeine, alcohol, tobacco, sugar).
  • Turn off your television.
  • Avoid violent movies and fear-induced media hype.
  • Go outside and spend time in nature.
  • Don’t read the news when you’re eating.
  • Go to bed when you’re tired or take a nap.
  • Slow down.
  • Meditate. Light a candle or sit by a fireplace (the ultimate television).
  • Exercise: move in ways that your body enjoys.
  • Breathe. A lot.
  • Relax in the sunshine.
  • Play, laugh, love.
  • Drink tea.
  • Sing your songs.

What are some other ways to take a personal retreat during this time of year? Feel free to leave a comment in the box below.

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