I am thinking a lot these days about the fact that it is getting colder here in the northern hemisphere. My cold-natured body seems to want to retreat into sleep, socks do little to help when the feet project cold rather than warmth. But I know my vata body type (Ayurvedic body type) is really just having a vata reaction to the cold. This is the time to establish a rhythm to my practice. Other things in my life also need this attention to rhythm. Eating schedules, working out (yes, you still need to do cardio, even with a lot of yoga), and time for socializing with friends and family.
Here are some key ideas for establishing a rhythm successfully:
1. Only schedule what you need to – food, socializing, exercise, and spiritual practice. Otherwise, try to reduce demands on yourself during October and early November. This is a good time to get rest and rhythm before the holidays set in.
2. Put yourself there and start. If there is some new habit you are trying to establish in order to keep balance, just get to the place where it happens. Don’t let your mind trick you into thinking you should feel like starting. Start whatever it is, then see how you feel when you are done. It takes a little backbone, but I find that after 2 or 3 days of success I can keep going. My French teacher, whom I loved dearly, always said “Don’t think, just say it.” This could be applied to the schedule or rhythm. Don’t think, just follow the list. You can worry about how you feel about it later, if you need to (you won’t).
3. Don’t think of rewards. We really don’t need to be rewarded for everything. Sometimes, it just makes sense to make good decisions. The reward is feeling good. See how you feel. Enjoy it when you feel better. When you don’t feel so great, think of how you would care for a child, and make those decisions for yourself. (i.e. – No, we aren’t having cake and ice cream for breakfast today. However, you can have a banana or some yogurt if you want something sweet. or – Nope, it isn’t quite time to rest yet, we still need to do a little cardio. Then we can rest.)
4. Begin to schedule some time for rest and relaxation, even if it is only for 5-10 minutes.
5. Get plenty of Vitamin D.
6. Know your Body Type and its tendencies. If you have a vata or kapha type body, this is a good time to take extra care. You can take a quiz here.
With all of these ideas in mind, just try one or two to start. Then let the rest go, or add them in if it seems helpful. There is no reason to add to your to do list unnecessarily There is also not much time to goof off if you are hoping to meet goals or get into a good mindset before the end of the year. Decide the one or two things you really need to do to get balanced in time for the holidays or to finish the year well, then let the rest go. You can work on those next year.
It is a sort of self care to set these rhythms for ourselves. It creates a little sense of accomplishment no matter what else is coming. You know you will do yoga and eat three meals. You know you will take 5 minutes to sit and allow yourself to feel whatever you are feeling at the moment, and non-judgmentally. You can have something for your own well-being even amidst the chaos of the season. Wake up. School is in, everyone is at work. Time to pump out some good reliable effort, and to balance that with the necessary comfort (sthira and sukkha) to get yourself through the next several months.
Yoga Pose of the Day: Side Plank Pose – Vasisthasana
Yogic Concept of the Day: How can I make the plan (for balance in my day, diet, life, etc…) easier to stick to?
Don’t forget: If you are in the Coldwater, MI area, this afternoon (Thursday, October 11) at 12:15 p.m. Diane Godfrey will be offering a short program on the Dark Night of the Soul at Coldwater Haven. This is part of our series of talks for National Depression Awareness Month. She will offer information on contemplative practices that can support a person at any time. (30 min. and free)