Spring Cleaning Yoga

Posted on: February 3rd, 2016 By:
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This year has been a rather warm winter for Austinites, and the line between the seasons seems as blurry as ever. However, as we move towards the official end of winter, it is a good time to reflect on what we can learn by the season’s changes. Historically, the winter has often been a time of uncertainty and fear, and for some who live in less comfortable situations, it still is. As the warm rays melted away the frost, relief could be felt among the people who survived the force of cold and possible starvation through their own long term planning, luck, and generosity of neighbors.
Sanctuary Yoga has consistently been a place of refuge for me because of the instructors and the beautiful yogis who help create a nurturing space for my yogic practice, but sometimes that’s not enough to shake out my less than desirable state of mind. My first instinct can be to push away what I’m feeling, but I’ve found that to be an  ineffective reaction. Last week, my instructor said something that really stuck with me. Allowing yourself to feel and acknowledge what feels wrong in the body and mind, gives it space to move on. I have friends who often use exercise as a means of escape. I have found that rather difficult to do with yoga. Thank goodness.
You see, negative emotions for example, often get a bad wrap. We’re told to find a way to chuck those things out the window, blow sage smoke at it, or take more vitamins. But all emotions have a purpose even the ‘negative’ ones. Sure, they don’t feel great, but they’re here to send you a message and let you know that something is wrong. And just like an unattended notification, it’s not going to go away if you ignore it. It’ll probably just get more annoying and frustrating. Similarly you also get to decide (once you’ve finally read it) what you do with the news you’re given. Being angry doesn’t mean breaking a window. Being jealous doesn’t mean lashing out. And being sad doesn’t mean that you give up. Your emotions are a part of you, but they’re not who you are. You get to have control with what you do with them. It’s not super easy at first, but giving yourself the space to acknowledge them, gives you a better shot at regulating what you really want your reaction to be. As well as helping you get rid of cluttered emotions that you no longer want or have use for.
Yoga is often seen as a place to find peace and contentment, but that road is not always so smooth. Part of that journey is messy and terrifying, but by paying attention to it, you allow yourself to prepare and equip yourself. Ignoring it on the other hand, keeps it inside of you. It gets stuck in whatever crevice of your body it’s settled in.
I often hear that you are your greatest teacher. I had a hard time believing that at first. Until I realized that this “you” is not always the conscious self. Sometimes that “you” is a tight chest or a twitching eye. Sometimes that “you” is a dream that repeats every night like a stuck record. And in some cases, that “you” is a really scary blizzard that howls at your door.
One could only guess how well prepared one would be during that year’s winter during harvest, but would only ever find out when the nights got longer and the outside world was barren. Those who survived, celebrated by cleaning the homes that sat collecting dust and grime for all those months. I encourage you to take this spring as a call to address the dusty corners of your heart and body. Yoga is not a practice for those who have reached perfection. Yoga is a practice that helps you figure out how to mindfully grow and nourish yourself. Spring cleaning is about more than just beating up your dusty rug, it’s also about re energizing yourself. Congratulations! You’ve survived to the next spring!

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