city, food, yoga

Just Breathe

chocolate coconut confections

Joy With No Almonds

The winter holiday season feels a little different, now that I’m a yoga teacher. Likely, it’s not just because twice a week, I gather a few coworkers, play some inspiring music, and get them to move around a little and breathe, though that’s a notable difference from last early December. Breathing is, after all, a good thing to remember to do.

That said, I’ve been feeling like I forget to do it, at least, deeply, a lot lately. Holidays are stressful, no matter which way you look at them. Travel, family, sweets & other vices, lots of food, gift-giving, and social engagements are all a part of it.

Still, earlier this year I got introduced to, and since then I have revisited quite often, the first and second limbs of yogic philosophy. Taking a cue from several of the Yamas and Niyamas, I’ve been examining my life through the lenses of, “am I content with all the riches that I already have?” “what is in my life that is just (material or mental) clutter?” and also, “could my communication be more clear, while also being more compassionate?”

Where it’s gotten me, lately:

  • I went to a most excellent handicrafts fair, the NoCoast Craft-o-rama, on Saturday. Last year at the same event, I purchased several holiday gifts. And yet while strolling the packed aisles, looking at beautiful, lovingly made objects and clothing articles, I was struck more often by the feeling of, “well, I don’t need that. And neither does this or that relative. I will just have to savor this moment, and recognize the talent and care of the artist. And be envious that they’ve found the motivation to make beautiful things.” And then, go home and pick up the knitting project that I started 5 years ago.
  • I love making food! And that is a perfectly viable creative outlet. Check out the beauty of the candies, above! Some of my gifts for people this year will be edible.
  • I’ve suddenly realized that we waste valuable weekend relaxation time, doing grocery shopping. The lines are long, and the sunshine is short. I’m stopping this bad habit. We’ll be doing grocery shopping over lunch or in the evenings, from now on.
  • Over the past year or so, I’ve been making posts nearly daily, on a handy site called DailyMile, which have to do with anything fitness related that I do. It counts miles, as well as hours, and other variables. To what end? The social aspect of it is friendly, but I don’t look to it for motivation. My obsession with calorie counting and burning is on the wane and I will always enjoy moving around at different speeds and frequencies. It’s winter, my off-season for cardio, and my on-season for playing in the snow. Posting to DailyMile is a habit I think I may terminate. I can take back those 5 minutes each day, and breathe, instead.
  • Last year at this time, I was at least a month into training for the nordic ski race that I did in February. I was enrolled in a Wednesday night skills and training class, which served its purpose and more (read: frustration, and deeply chilled digits on a regular basis).  While the class and race were exceptional growth experiences for me, I do not presently feel a need to repeat either. Cross-country skiing is best left to being a non-competitive cabin-fever antidote, for me.
  • Talking is better than typing. It’s not yet my mantra, but I’m starting to live by it.

Another component to this December feeling different from last: I have less credit card debt, by far! And it is a lovely feeling, which I will do my best to prolong.