The other night, I was looking at my tree, decorated with the small number of ornaments that are meaningful to my family and me, and thought about how I grew up with a tree full of ornaments, each covering the one behind it. It was one of those moments of clarity for me, watching the tree in the dark of night with the lights sparkling: Less is more. Too many trinkets distract. It’s not about what you get or have. It’s about what you give, and the quality, not quantity behind that sentiment.
As Chogyam Trunpa Rinpoche says in Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism:
“The beauty of the object did not radiate out any more, because it was surrounded by so many other beautiful things. It did not mean anything anymore. Proper shopping does not entail collecting a lot of information or beauty, but it involves fully appreciating each individual object. This is very important. If you really appreciate an object of beauty, then you completely identify with it and forget yourself.”
That statement encompasses so much in my life and really resonates with me during this time of year. It is so easy to get consumed with the number of items, the amount of time, and the amount of energy that is expended in the spirit of giving, yet you can only give if you allow yourself to receive.
Yoga is one way to receive the energy you need to keep you in tune with the joy and beauty of the season by reminding you to cultivate peace and goodwill in all aspects of your life, your body, mind, spirit, relationship to others, and relationship to yourself.
3 ways yoga can open your heart this holiday season:
1. Receive love. Open your heart with Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana). Utilize this wonderful, gentle, heart-opening pose to foster self-love within, clear your head, and draw strength from your core.
2. Receive compassion. Let go with Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana). Our hips are the central station of all tension in our bodies, so take a moment to open up and allow for more mobility in your body as well as more freedom in your mind; let go of all that is no longer serving you and coming to a place of compassion for yourself and others.
3. Receive serenity. Meditate. Take five minutes each day to be aware of your breath. Acknowledge your breath flowing in and out, paying attention to each inhale and exhale, tune in to the pauses between breaths, and open up to create a feeling of connection and awareness to face your world.
During the holidays, it is important to take care of yourself in order to stay energized amidst all of the hustle and bustle of the season. Sending out cards, shopping for gifts, baking and decorating are all wonderful ways to express joy and gratitude; however, they can also be draining if not balanced with some personal time to connect to your center.
This holiday season, I hope you are able to maintain your yoga practice and take some time to consider what it means to you.