Holiday Stress + Noticing Patterns through Yoga

With some space between myself and holidays at home along with the massive amount of time I had to myself in 2020, I discovered some things…

I don’t actually hate this time of year at all. Sure, I prefer warmer weather, but there’s a lot about the cooler weather that I love like having fires, going ice skating, cuddling under a blanket for movie nights, and drinking lots of chai + hot cocoa. I love to bake, and damn if this isn’t the time of year to do it! I think Christmas movies are sweet.

I love celebrating the Solstice!

You see, I had been selling myself on this story about this time of year.

Part of my work was untangling my beliefs and thoughts around it from my mom’s and part of it was recognizing that I don’t actually have to participate in the things about this season that I don’t like. I don’t have to stress over pulling off a perfect Christmas dinner. I don’t have to buy unnecessary gifts for folks. And I don’t have to hate everything about Christmas or Winter to recognize the things that I don’t like.

I love the symbology of this time of year. The ancient celebration of welcoming and honoring the light.

The age old practice of lighting candles for the shortest day/longest night, of lighting a yule log, of decorated our hearths with evergreen. It is a time to chant the Gayatri Mantra and honor the light within and around us, and I believe it is truly a beautiful time of year.

Now, you might be wondering, ‘what in the world could any of this have to do with Yoga?’ Well…everything really.

Yoga isn’t just about āsana (physical movement/postures), but rather a systematic approach of better connecting with and understanding ourselves. Just like we develop unhelpful movement patterns that can be changed with āsana and unhelpful breathing patterns that can be changed with prāṇāyāma, we can also develop unhelpful thought patterns, or stories, that can be noticed and changed with deep self-inquiry, or Svādhyāya.

This is the true work of yoga. Developing practices tailored specifically toward your personal needs. An āsana practice that supports your individual body so that you can sit comfortably without physical distraction.

A prāṇāyāma (breathing) practices that supports your mind so that you can again sit comfortably but without distraction from your thoughts.

A meditation practice that connects you more deeply with yourself so that you can unearth the stories you’ve told yourself that aren’t true and commit to working to change them. Through these practices, we are able to more deeply get to know ourselves, and in doing so we are able to practice discernment and notice what is ours and what isn’t, what is someone else’s that we’ve either knowingly or unknowingly taken on, and what are just stories that we’ve allowed ourselves to believe. This is true yoga, and without my practice I would never have discovered that I actually like Christmas.

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1 Comment

  1. Rebekah Knause

    Omg Amberly, all of this is so truthful. The stories we agree too us amazingly unconscious and when we finally see amd feel storing enough in our practices that support our bodies, mind amd spirit then we get the chance to rewrite our own stories and break the chains of the old shit that doesn’t support any longer. I love you and have watched you transform as you have truly committed to the practice we have come to title as Yoga. It is a full embodied transformer if we embrace the change!