By Laura Ahrens
‘Tis the season to be jolly!'
But, we may also be heartbroken, overworked, overwhelmed, or lonely.
Our yoga invites presence, which is inseparable from authenticity. To be present, we also have to be open to our current experience, regardless of whether or not we would have chosen it. When we deny our current state, a mental war is waged between what is and what we wish would be. This causes suffering. We then tend toward judgment and admonishment, and away from the loving relationship we so desperately need from ourselves.
This season, we can gift ourselves moments of spaciousness amidst potential chaos. It is here that we can tap into the awe of being alive in all of our humanness and with our full range of emotions. Only here can we open the space within ourselves for presence and authenticity.
1. Focus on your breath. The breath is ever present. Even as the mind time travels, plots, or worries, the breath serves as the touchstone for coming home to the present moment. Every time you focus on the breath moving through your body—its inception, its exit, and the sensations of breath moving within you—you’re choosing yourself and your life over imagination and conjecture.
2. Let the tears come. They’re a very real expression. Not only tears make space for you to be how you are and feel what you are feeling in the moment, but you’re also cleansing and releasing.
3. Put a hand on your heart and take a few breaths to allow yourself to feel whatever you’re sitting with. In our busyness, we often neglect our emotions, which then get buried in endless lists and urgencies. Place a compassionate hand on your heart with no need to fix or change yourself or the situation and feel your own warmth.
4. Lie in savasana for a few minutes (more if you have them!). Give yourself the chance to rest, process, and integrate. While you’re on the ground, perhaps you can appreciate how the body is caring for your well-being. You haven’t scheduled your liver to cleanse you, or your heart to pump. You’re not overseeing your cellular regeneration. Your lungs breathe even while you’re sleeping and completely unconscious of taking a breath. If you’re dealing with an injury and illness, even a small scab over a scrape can show you how the body wants your wellness when health feels far away. You can practice this pose before you go to sleep, at the end of your yoga practice, or in the midst a busy day as a self-care act of rebellion.
How to Practice Savasana:
Savasana translates to “corpse pose,” and is practiced lying down. For some added weight and warmth, place a blanket over your pelvis or, if you prefer, your entire body. Optionally, place a pillow or blanket under your head for softness and support. If you have yoga blocks or a bolster, you may decide to elevate your shoulder blades and skull to open the chest to stretch across the muscles that tighten when you’re fearful, shut down, or shivering in the cold. To emulate the photo, use two blocks, with one under your head and the other under the back of your heart/shoulder blades at the same height. For more neck support, lift the block under your head to one height taller. If your lower back is sensitive, a rolled-up blanket, pillow, or bolster can help create relief.