This is a stressful time of year for many people, and combined with poor weather, various illnesses and short days, now is not necessarily a good time to be forcing yourself to do a whole lot of stuff.
In terms of your yoga practice, just ‘doing what you can’ within time, family, health and space constraints means that you will be able to achieve something, reducing your feeling of guilt (or is that just me?!), and will be able to keep some form of yoga practice going during the festive period.
As some of you may know, I’ve got a broken bone in my foot and am in plaster cast. This has severely curtailed my physical activities, amongst other things, and I’ll blog another time about the lessons it’s teaching me. But in terms of my yoga practice, I’m finding it’s still possible to do a range of upper body stretches (neck, shoulders, side bends etc), as well as some lying prone postures, and even some seated and supine postures. I’m just ‘doing what I can’, to prevent and treat a stiff lower back (as a result of sitting and lying much of the day!), and to keep as many body muscles and joints moving as possible so when the plaster comes off I’m not way behind in my flexibility and muscle strength. Being able to manage 20 minutes of simple stretches, breathing and meditation, is helpful and prevents me from despairing too much of the situation.
If you find yourself ill (from a variety of little lurgies going round at present), don’t despair, find a couple of stretches that help, and just do those. Or if you’re running round after a family, having to soothe waring factions, and are just generally frazzled and haven’t got 20 minutes to stretch, just lock yourself in the bathroom, sit or lie on the floor and just practice five minutes of the de-stressing meditation. It’s amazing what just five minutes of simple breathing and mind concentration can do to soothe your nerves. See my de-stressing handout with a few suggested techniques.
This time of year isn’t the time for dramatic striving or pushing yourself. It’s a time for being more reflective, hibernating to some extent (if your circumstances allow it), being quieter and stiller. If we take our cue from the plant and animal kingdoms, the winter time is for resting and restoring, ready to spring into action in spring. Some of this I would have incorporated into the winter solstice class! There is a short article on winter time and appropriate activities in Yoga Journal online.
So, just do what you can, whether that’s 3 minutes of breathing locked in the bathroom, or 33 minutes of gentle stretches. What ever you do will be of benefit.