It seems winter has decided to stay a while longer, at least here in the New York City area! The last week has been an exercise in waiting (Will it snow? Will it pass?) and slowing down (icy sidewalks and being in a rush are not a good combo!). It seems to take so much effort just to do what has to be done, let alone any “extra”.
I recently co-led a yoga and drumming workshop with Brooklyn-based yoga teacher Shannon Sodano. Our theme was winter, and we really focused on the balance between the active and rest periods found in this season. Shannon spoke about how winter causes our bodies to draw in, hunching shoulders and lowering necks to try to keep ourselves warm. And my thought was – What happens to our body’s rhythms? If we become physically drawn in, what happens to the rhythms of our breath, our movements, or even our words? In the summer it can be so easy to take a deep breath – we breathe in all the beauty around us: the ocean, warm breezes, the smell of fresh strawberries….everything just seems to invite openness and ease. But how can we find that in the winter?
In our workshop we first focused on finding and noticing the breath – not rushing to “fix” it or make it deeper or stronger. This seems especially important in February – the month where New Year’s resolutions may have fallen away & winter seems like it may last forever. It can be so easy to get down on ourselves with thoughts of “I didn’t do enough”. Try to set those aside, and just notice your breath.
We then worked, through movement and rhythm, on building internal heat and opening up the body. Flowing yoga sequences and playful rumble dances invited openness, laughter and energy. We changed the rhythmic energy so much that it began to flurry outside!
I think that a lot of winter causes us to disconnect from our bodies, when we really need to notice and reconnect with them even more. To reconnect with our bodies means to access that flowing rhythmic energy that the breath and movement can provide. And we can do this without being harsh on ourselves (I can’t believe I didn’t make it to yoga again!) and with the utmost gentleness.
So, for the rest of this month, just try to listen:
– mindfully to the sound of your boots as you walk down the street in the snow
– slowly to the inhale and exhale of your breath as you settle into your favorite slippers for the night
– deeply to a favorite song or piece of music
– gently to what your body is telling you it needs most
What are some other things you listen to in order to bring yourself back to your body and a sense of ease? Please leave me a comment below – I look forward to hearing from you!