Coming up to the holidays one tends to dread the effects this will have on our health and on our waistline. Excess food and drink and a sharp decline in physical activity and lack of presence on the yoga mat, make for a slow yet what seems inevitable regression into slothfulness and a size 48 (depending).
Our apprehension is of course not related to christmas and the New Year at all, but to our beliefs about them. We resign ourselves to the fact that we will over eat, we will drink too much, we will put on a couple of pounds and we will from the 1st of January spend the following 6 months at the gym, on the yoga mat and away from the fridge.
Why the 1st of January? Because we have put up (then accepted) this mental Post-It ("New Year, New Life")as The Undeniable Truth. This Post-It pops up every year at the same time and we become a slave to it, and use it as an excuse to do all matter of sins to our body a few weeks previous. But the 1st of January is ONLY a date. Just like any other. Just like the 24th of November or the 1st of February,.. What makes it different is our BELIEFS (the 1st of January is THE date for everyone to turn a new leaf), ie. the importance and significance we decide to give it.
I say why not turn this on it's head? (excuse the yogic pun). Let's bring this belief and date forward a little. How would you feel if over the holidays instead of putting on a pound or two and feeling as active and healthy as a puff of candy-floss, you lost a pound or two and began to feet vibrant, strong or at least healthy? Well...why not?
My challange to you is to set yourselves a (or various) "feel good goals" and make these holidays work towards you and for your body rather than against it.
How? My first suggestion is obviously yogic.
Here I will give you a set of yoga asana known as "The Five Tibetan Rites"
THE FIVE TIBETAN RITES
Also know as the "Five rites of rejuvination" they are yogic continuous sequence of movements reported to be more than 2000 years old. Performing the rites are said to improve just about everything from bettering eyesight to hair growth (the indian based British Army officer who brought the Rites to the west went to live with a group of lamas said to have discovered a "Foutain of Youth". He arrived stooped, bent and bald and after continual daily practice left them seemingly 20 years younger; excellent posture and no less, it is claimed, a full head of hair) The rites sharpen the mind, boost memory and a sense of balance, increase libido and virility (hope Berlusca isn't reading THIS post), relieve nervous tension, improve digestion as well as leaving one feeling energetic and revitalized. But don't just take my word for it.
The Yoga Challange is to perform the rites EVERY day for at least 21 days consecutively. NO cheating. No forgetting. If you do forget, no problem - start again the day after and count that day as day ONE.
- Each asana is to be done in quick succession twenty-one times. No need to go beyond this number.
- You may not be able to get up to 21 times when you start out so if necessary, start with 12 and work your way up each day.
- Between each one stand-up, bring hands to your hips and to regain your natural breathing pattern, breathe in with your nose as out through your mouth which will be pursed in an "O" shape (see photo above) repeat at least two times (more only if necessary).
- practice these on an empty stomach.
- practice any time of day, but preferably in the morning.
Stand with your arms out by your side in line with your shoulders palms facing downward. Start spinning towards your right (so you spin in a clockwise direction). Be carefully and don't over do it as you will feel incredibly dizzy at first and may risk falling. This is a wonderful way to train and manage your vestibular (balance) system even in extremely unstable circumstances. You will find that with time that the dizziness decreases.
Lie on your yoga mat. Arms by your side palms placed downward. As you breathe in lift your head up tucking in your chin whist you lift your legs (past the ninty-degree angle). Breathing out lower your head and legs down. Try to create fluidity of movement. UNLIKE the photo your feet should be pointed up towards the cieling. If it's too uncomfortable for your neck keep your head up or, only if necessary cradle your head with your hands, chin tucked in elbows close towards each other.
kneel down on your knees. Tuck your toes under you. Keep your head down and chin towards your throat. Back straight. Knees slightly apart (in line with your hip bones) Clasp the backs of your thighs, and as you breathe in lift and arch back from your waist. Allow your head to fall back if comfortable. Then come back to starting position.
Sit down on your yoga mat with your legs out straight infront of you. Feet flexed. Hands down by your sides in line with your hips (not too far back). Chin tucked in. Breathing in lift your hips from the floor, bring the soles of your feet down, and if it's not uncomfortable, allow your head to drop back. Your body forms a kind of table shape . Breathing out lower yourself back down gently into the starting position.
Start by supporting yourself (tummy down) only on your hands and on your feet with your lumbar spine down close towards the ground (but not touching). Your body forms a kind of suspension bridge between hands and feet. Keep your shoulders away from your ears and your chest pushed forward. Breathing in pull yourself up into downward dog. Keep the movement from one asana to the other smooth and fluid.
And that's it!!!!
If any of my students would like to take part in the holiday challenge but don't have a yoga mat (yet)
a) I am very happy to lend you one over the holiday period and b) ask father christmas to get one for you!