In a couple of minutes I am leaving for Kripalu. For those who aren't familiar with it it is a yoga training center in the Berkshires. That is a pretty bare bones description for a place that offers some of the best training programs for teachers and students alike, as well as acres of natural beauty, wonderful yoga classes, fabulous food, and quiet spaces to sit and read or meditate.
Much of the practice of yoga is centered in the idea of balance. Rather than building muscle but ignoring flexibility, or flexibility without strength, we seek both. We seek to open and express and develop our self across dimensions of being: physical, spiritual, emotional, intellectual, social. This doesn't mean that we strive for the fullest expression of each of these aspects, but that we breathe toward both: like a focal point, still and strong, able to stretch outward in more than one direction.
Life gets crazy sometimes, and it can wear on us. If you notice that you are feeling tired and weighed down by stress, a lack of motivation for exercise, and are making poor food choices, it is time to think about giving your mind and body a reboot.
There will be no lack of options for yoga classes on Thanksgiving. However, I suspect that many of my students, and many people generally will less be making a choice of which of a dozen classes to attend, than between yoga and cooking, travel, family, and other duties and pleasures. I thought I would make a few suggestions of ways to adapt your practice to the more common needs of this time of year, and to doing that practice even if you cannot make it to your usual class.
If you werer going to take an exam, would you prefer a room with workers using jackhammers outside the window, or one that is quiet? Or, if you were writing an essay would you do your best work at the library, or in a disco with strobe lights flashing and loud music? There are certainly some people who would say they prefer to work with some external chaos, but most people find focus easier in a quiet environment.
Growing up, we have all had yelled at us "sit up straight and don’t slouch". And while the motivation behind the classroom rhetoric may have been as irrelevant as not looking disciplined and sluggish, the benefits you will probably know now, are far richer.
There was a time when medical wisdom was that bed rest was good care for a heart condition. A lot of thought and research has led us away from that notion. We have come to understand the role of activity in healing, as well as in maintaining health. We also have a better idea of how multifactorial health and wellness are. One of the most interesting early studies to look at this was the lifestyle heart trial of Dr. Ornish. He showed how exercise, diet, and lifestyle support eachother.