Happy 2017 y’all!
As we round out the first week of the year I wanted to check in and see how you’re going with your intentions and resolutions for this year. Perhaps it was to drop 20 pounds. Eat cleaner. Be more mindful. Whenever commitments are made and goals declared we often kickstart them with a roaring start, all fiery and full of conviction. Which is great in theory, go after what you want right? Why wouldn’t you go full throttle towards your dreams?
Because it’s winter.
And again, one of the BIGGEST things I learned from yoga was how important it is to honour the seasons. To flow with them, and not against them if you want to make the longest and most sustainable gains.
Winter is slow. Winter is dark. Winter is quiet.
Does ANYTHING move fast and fiery in winter? No. So here’s what I’ve been doing instead – working in tandem with nature’s flow by also moving slower, steadier, quieter.
The inclination with those new year’s resolutions are to go after them with all we got. But often what happens is we burn the F out. Because being fast and fiery is, well, just like fire itself. Fires can burn hot for awhile, but they’ll always eventually burn out.
Over the years I’ve learned to approach the start of my new year differently. By honouring the season and what my brilliant yoga teacher Christy reminded me of recently – the power of moving slowly and steadily through the proper stages.
Think about it…in a yoga class for example, we don’t walk into the studio, throw our mat down and pop into a handstand. Or even into a downward dog. Or any other intense pose for that matter. Doing that makes us prone to injury which would only push us further away from our goal(s). Instead we easssssse into it. This is what Vinyasa Krama means – to place in a special way in appropriate stages. We warm up the body slowly, we focus on the deepening the breath and drawing our mind inwards. It requires us to be more focused, more present, and to calm our breath. We work up through the various poses and move towards the intensity and deepening that we’re seeking. We move logically through the phases instead of just jumping to the end goal.
The same lesson was taught to me while climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro. We began in the rainforest and I had befriended a naturopath at the base of the mountain. Having many similar interests we chatted up a storm. Then my guide came up beside and told the lovely naturopath to move along. I was shocked, who the hell was he to tell my friend to take off?! We were having a lovely conversation! And all my guide said to me was ‘pole pole’ which translates from Swahili to ‘slowly slowly’. He then went on to explain that I needed to reserve my energy and talking expends a lot of energy. Ugh, fine. So we trekked on for 5 days and wouldn’t you know it, at the top of the mountain I saw my friend again! Although this time he was looking rather ‘green’ and I was the polar opposite, all smiles and energy. My guide kinda smirked at me and I winked back at him – slow and steady ‘wins the race’.
And again, here.
So I invite you to check in with yourself and see how/if you’re honouring winter. Were you perhaps a bit too fiery at the beginning of the week and feel yourself burning out? Did you move to quickly and then beat yourself up for not sticking to the gameplan you set out? Practice self-compassion in knowing that when change is too drastic, we can’t sustain that level of intensity – no one can. Instead, try different actions and see how you can support your goals by working in small, sustainable stages. See how it feels to add in only ONE new change and incorporate it slowly. Doing this helps our body, mind, and spirit get used to this change thus increasing our odds of maintaining it over time. Then once that change becomes a part of you, or of your routine, you can add in something new. Then rinse and repeat as necessary.
As Christy said, “There is so much I want to do and create but in order to sustain the change and be better prepared for the intensity of life that lies ahead, one of my mantras for the year is “slow and steady wins the race.” and I couldn’t agree more.
Cheers to a phenomenal 2017 everyone!