New year, cycle change, yoga time12/25/2019
The winter solstice is an astronomical event that is defined by a certain position of the earth with respect to the sun. Let’s say that this is a pretty basic summary of the definition that wikipedia gives us but that allows us to move forward on the topic that this post deals with without going into great complexities. The winter solstice marks the beginning of winter in the northern hemisphere, as well as the turning point with the longest night of the year. From there the hours of light begin to lengthen and the hours of darkness to shorten.
Today we live quite disconnected from natural cycles because the comforts of modern life make us less and less dependent on changes. However the seasons have marked the way of life of civilizations for years, and even today, we can observe its influence on nature. In winter most plant species wait, and inside forests, in caves and burrows, dozing dozens of animal species waiting for warmer times.
Connecting with seasonal cycles is connecting with our most natural essence. Winter is gathering time. Time to be home, time for rest, time for internalization and intimacy. Join this the celebration of Christmas, festivities that invite you to spend more time with family, and the change of year, a time that calls the reflection, balance and appreciation for what has happened over the past twelve months. Thank you for both the good and the bad, but especially the bad, because the latter is what makes us learn and evolve.
How does Yoga accompany us in this winter period? Hatha yoga already favors the connection with oneself. In the Hatha, asanas have a significance in the journey inwards, in the internalization in oneself. There is, among the different groups of asanas, a family that is especially relevant for this purpose that we are talking about today. These are push-ups forward. This family inspires internalization and soothes the mind. As we flex our body forward, our consciousness turns inward, looking inside to find the stillness of our center. As we learn to surrender and let go on that return we can recover from everything that is happening in our daily hustle and bustle by taking refuge in self-reflection.
Many people start practicing yoga thinking that the day they touch their toes will finally be doing really yoga or good yoga. It doesn’t really matter how much you can flex forward. Regardless of where the point of resistanceis located, that’s the place,your place, where you have the opportunity to learn and grow. That opportunity exists regardless of whether you have the flexibility of a board or a gymnast. If you can “meet” yourself right where you are at that very moment, instead of looking beyond you, to that other place you would like to be, then you will be savoring the true fruits of yoga. For this you need perseverance and compassion.
These bending postures are also called lunar asanas, because they connect more with that kind of energy. The energies Ida, has to do with the parasympathetic nervous system responsible for the relaxation of the organism,so they have calming and restorative effect on the body and mind.
On a physical level the forward flexion postures release all the muscles of the back of the body:the hamstrings and the muscles of the spine. They also help the heart to rest. When you push forward, extensions backward slowers, or twists, you feel that by bringing your back back to a neutral position, the internal organs receive a massage thanks to the compression and decompression action that occurs as a result of contracting and releasing the organs. You can imagine that effect as if it were a sponge. This favors the elimination of toxins,so that we nourish those “energy plants” that are our organs.
Some forward bending poses you can practice include:
- Janu sirsasana
When practicing, bring attention to your breathing, feeling the movement of your abdomen. When flexing forward always do it from the hip joint (not rounding your back). It allows the muscles of the legs to extend and the buttocks to give way and, connecting with the gentle dance of the breath allows the muscles to give way. Using the exhalation, flex a little further forward without forcing. Try to keep your back long, without rounding it. Avoid tension.
“In the depths of winter,
I finally learned that inside my
is an invincible summer”
Penelope Los Arcos