Part of the true practice of yoga is being with the present moment exactly as it is. That's all well and good until the present moment isn't exactly what we'd like it to be! In the second book of the yoga sutras, Patanjali puts it this way (according to Swami Satchidananda's translation):
"Accepting pain as help for purification, study of spiritual books and surrender to the Supreme Being constitute Yoga in practice."
We tend to run away from pain and always look for pleasure. We tend to inflict our pain on another unless we are conscious of it. Neither of these ways of being in the world will lead us to a happy life. And lest you think otherwise, this sutra isn't asking us to simply bear pain or inflict more of it on ourselves (how many times have you heard the phrase, "listen to your body" in a yoga class?!?). As Nischala Joy Devi says in her book The Secret Power of Yoga, "If we intentionally add discomfort or pain to an already weakened body or mind, this tends to further separate us from the Divine spirit."
Instead, we are asked to become more conscious of how pain may cause us to act or react in the world. As we practice, we become more conscious of what's happening in a moment and more able to manage it in the best possible way for not only ourselves, but others.
Why do I bring this up? Well, we had a really wonderful conversation the other day in our Yamas and Niyamas workshop about the idea of "doing nothing". At one point I asked the question, "When was the last time you carved time out of your day to do nothing?" And through the conversation, we decided that "nothing" was the wrong word. One of the participants come up with a great alternative. Instead of "doing nothing" she reframed it as "doing nourishing" which I loved (thanks Tracy!)!
The end of a long winter is just ahead of us (I write this as the snow is falling yet again, but I have faith!). But you may be only now starting to notice the effects. You may be noticing that because we always feel like there is so much to be done in our busy lives, that there's no time to slow down as the season and nature ask, that now you are feeling run down, tired and maybe even a bit cranky with your friends, family and/or coworkers. It's time to take skillful, nourishing action. It's time to be with that feeling just as it is, allow it and respond skillfully.
Here's a simple, nourishing suggestion for you - take a bath!
This is my simple recipe for a healing bath that can help relieve those winter BLAHS for just a little while. Set aside 45 min. to an hour for this. Guys - you can do this too! Try it, you might like it!
Fill your bath with comfortable temperature warm water. (Some may like the heat more than others.)
Prepare the room with soft lighting, maybe a scented candle or two and some soothing music.
Add to your water the following:
1/2 cup of baking soda - this can help remove toxins and may even soothe your dry winter skin.
1 cup Epsom salts - this gives you some beneficial magnesium (something most of us are lacking as it isn't as present in our food as we might need) to help with any muscle soreness or stiffness you may have and help move your digestion along as well.
Optional - add some essential oils to your bath. If you drop them into your Epsom salts before you add them to the water it will help them mix in rather than float on top. I'm a big fan of the combination of lavender and eucalyptus lately. Depending on the time of day I'm taking my bath I might use more of the stimulating eucalyptus earlier in the day or the soothing lavender more towards the evening.
Gently enter your bath and enjoy floating for some time, reading a good book or just listening to your music. Whatever you do, let this be a time you "do nourishing" for you!