December has arrived!

 The Beauty of a Frosty Morning

The Beauty of a Frosty Morning

For some reason I am always slightly surprised by the arrival of December. It seems like only yesterday that the warm autumn hues of September and October were lighting up corners of the garden and Christmas was ages away. The arrival of 1st December is the equivalent of a starting gun that lends legitimacy to the downhill ski race to Christmas and the end of the year. As someone who uses yoga as a tool for daily life at any time of year, I find it especially valuable in December. Here are just a few of my personal reasons:

  • The annual events and social get togethers of the season are lovely but they leave me craving the tranquility and reflection space to be found on the mat
  • At a time of year when making others feel happy and good, not to mention well fed, can become a pressure point, yoga restores my balance and equanimity
  • Mindful practice helps build mindful habits for everyday allowing celebrations to happen in the moment without comparison to other celebrations or idealised versions of celebrations
  • Knowing that I will be getting onto my mat the following day is a great tool for self discipline with my own intake of food and drink!

There are, of course, specific yoga asanas/poses that can aid digestion so when you do get your mat out (and I hope you will!) try some of the following:

Cat/Cow

Downward Facing Dog

Triangle

Extended Childs Pose

Bridge Pose

Gentle seated twists or supine twists

Hugging the knees into the chest one at a time (Apanasana is 'wind relieving pose')

However, yoga is not the only thing that can help ward off the more crazy elements of December. I recently followed a series of blog posts which all had the same question of "Where do you find peace amid chaos?" which was addressed to all different kinds of people in all different kinds of occupations. Two of the responses which most resonated with me were from musicians and yet they are not about listening to music. Here are some excerpts:

By living in the arts. According to Nietzsche, the only vindication for our existence and this world is aesthetic.
By enjoying the love of my beloved and returning to it.
By trying to keep my balance, dancing amongst contradictions.
— Alfred Brendel Concert Pianist
Some of the most reliable ways of finding peace in our wretchedly noise polluted world come through connecting with the spirit of wild places - with past denizens of ancient chalk downland, hearing the larks chirping overhead: by yomping through forests and glimpses of passing deer, in listening to the wind in the trees in wild woods, and by inhaling the varied aroma of felled timber.I find it too in the scent of new mown grass, the calming company of cattle grazing lush pasture, in the shaggy companionship of nice dogs, in the cool interior of medieval churches, or in the Sunday rituals of baking fresh eggs for breakfast.
— Sir John Eliot Gardiner Conductor

As well as practising mindfulness it's also a good time to make gratitude a focus - and I don't mean gratitude for the material elements of the season! The company of family and friends, the memories of happy times past, and the unadulterated pleasures of sharing are all there to be grateful for. Like most people I am already surveying the calendar and diary with mild dismay; so many things to fit in and so seemingly little time, but I do know that the important stuff will get done, and that December has a full quota of 31 days and that I can only live and enjoy them one minute, hour and day at a time. The rest will follow. So whether you love or loathe December I urge you to include yoga, on and off the mat, in your seasonal formula. I know I will.