December is the month of Celebration. When we enjoy the rewards of the year, acknowledge our achievements and take a welcome break surrounded by our loved ones. By the time January swings around we can feel partied out, jaded and fearful of going back to the daily grind.
At this time of year especially, it’s so important to try to take time for you. Creating little celebratory rituals for yourself, is a great way of doing this. They needn’t take up much time, but committing to some kind of routine will, I promise you, make a huge difference to your overall sense of welling. And why not make these little celebrations a ritual for every day? There could be no better intent on a humble yoga mat than to celebrate ourselves in this way.
This concept might seem an odd one to you, especially so if you live a busy life where the focus is always on work and you tend to come last in the pecking order of priorities. So many of us forget to make time to celebrate ourselves. And many of us also assume that achievements and celebrations have to come in a shiny, all-singing and dancing package.
This really isn’t the case – achievements can be small, simple, daily wins: getting to work on time, finally making that call to an old friend, setting aside time to play with our children, stepping away from the Instagram feed for the evening, putting your mobile phone to one side, reading a few pages of a new book. We are all guilty of not giving ourselves the time, attention, love and reward that we all, unconditionally deserve.
Setting the intent
If you don’t own a yoga mat , invest in one today – I recommend this one via Amazon which is in a sale for under ten pounds, if you’re quick! You can order one from the comfort of your living room in seconds.
Setting positive intents before a yoga practice simply focuses the mind on that state of being and helps stop it wandering off to our worries and niggles – that internal dialogue that distracts us throughout the day.
As a teacher of yoga, I like to invite my students to think of circumstances in their own lives that they can apply the intent to. Like this:
- Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes.
- Breathe deeply and naturally, in through the nose and out through the mouth.
- With every breath in, feel the heart area lift and open. With every breath out, feel the shoulders relax and any tension and stress melt away.
- Now focus on the space around your heart area and breath into this space. If you like, take your hands and place them on your heart.
- Take a moment and think of at least 1 thing you have achieved this year that you would like to celebrate.
- Acknowledge your achievement. Say to yourself: “I have done well, I am proud of myself, I welcome my celebration.
- Notice how you are breathing in this state of acknowledgement and celebration. Notice how your body feels. What sensations are you feeling?
- I invite you to move and breathe in this state of celebration throughout your practice today.
If our intents are relevant to our lives, our minds can be more easily focused back onto them if we drift off – which we all do!
I know not everyone gets the point of ‘positive intentions’, but if the only thing they achieve is to block out our internal Monkey Mind chatter, even for a short time, then that’s one pretty good outcome.
A celebratory practice
After setting the intent, it is time for an uplifting practice.
For a quick blast of celebratory yoga at home, choose some music that makes your heart sing. I like Fools Gold by The Stone Roses, super danceable plus nearly 10 minutes long so great for a short practice.
Turn the volume UP and then, let’s go with Sun Salutations!
Choose any variation and keep at them until the music stops, breathing in a way that celebrates your achievements, your body and your life.
Sun Salutations open and warm the body so you will get a sweat on!
Here is a diagram showing how to do traditional Sun Salutations – Surya Namaskara.
Back to life, back to reality
In the big picture, celebration on the yoga mat helps us to celebrate life when we are back to ‘reality’.
My own teacher, Forrest Yoga Guardian, Jambo Truong, (and he really knows his shit) says:
Every yoga pose has become a opportunity to experience the fullest expression of life. If you can do it in a yoga pose, you can do it whilst living. Life itself is the only constant lingering that we cannot ignore, yet we do not fully celebrate it. Use your practice to celebrate life, as it surges through you, celebrate your own aliveness.
I love this idea, that celebration is the ultimate expression of being alive.
Think how we celebrate; we dance, we jump, we sing – and we do it all with other people , our community.
And that, my friends, is what life is all about!
Wishing you a massively celebratory 2018 and peaceful start to the new year.