Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The meditations of Van Gogh

“It is good to love many things, for therein lies the true strength, and whosoever loves much performs much, and can accomplish much, and what is done in love is well done.” ― Vincent Van Gogh ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ In the Bhagavad Gita, a sacred Hindu text, man is adjured to be like the Lotus - he should work without attachment, dedicating his actions to God, untouched by sin like water on a Lotus leaf and the beautiful flower standing high above the mud and water. In Sanskrit, this flower is called Kamala. In the postures of Hatha Yoga, a major branch of Yoga, the lotus position, padmasana, is adopted by those striving to reach the highest level of consciousness, which itself is found in the thousand-petaled lotus chakra at the top of the head. Practically speaking, life is made of Carbon, Hydrogen, Oxygen and Nitrogen. Its name is protoplasm. And it is not only the structural unit with which all living bodies start in life, this is the formal basis for all like on Earth. Therefore, ones similarities with every living thing are far greater than ones differences. Van Gogh infused his art with a compassionate consideration of these basic similarities; creating a strong spiritual reality in his work and stressing his love of the subject, be it animal, vegetable or mineral. Our journey is towards Yoga Svadhyaya; the Yoga of enlightenment and Self “Yoga is the study of the Self”. This is actually the definition of another of the niyamas, svadhyaya. The word ‘svadhyaya” can be broken up into three smaller words. “Sva” means one’s Self, meaning the soul, the atman, or the Higher Self. “Dhy” is related to the word “dhyana” which means meditation. And “ya” is an activating suffix. Thus svadhyaya means “actively meditating on or studying the nature of the Self”. I like to define svadhyaya as “remembering to be mindful”. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------ How to meditate on a flower (or how Van Gogh meditated on his sunflowers) : One evening I brought a vase of beautiful yellow sunflowers to class. Each flower is an individual; some are in full bloom, whereas other are losing their luster after being cut for a number of hours or days. Some are bright vibrant yellow with tinges of gold and orange, burnt sienna and gold. Some are browning and appear drier and tired. At the beginning of class I have asked my students to notice the vase of flowers and consider them awhile. They should bring their attention and focus to the vase of flowers. They should trace the outer edges of the petals and leaves with their eyes and they should also consider the flowers with their hearts. “What do you think it would be like to be a flower? To be that flower?” I ask them to pick one of the flowers and place it beside their mats. As we begin to move and meditate, I remind the students that if your attention falls from the breath, I would encourage a contemplative return to the question and the consideration of this flower again. This is an act of full mindfulness; focus on the flower or the entire vase of flowers, without judgement or attachment, applying a non-reactive focus to the flower (or the breath). Both you and the flower share the energy of life; prana energy. As you meditate allow the air to pass through your body in a fluid, gentle, loving and easy manner. Try to maintain your attention on the breath, but do not self-judge if you fall away from this attention. counting in zazen or seated meditation is a basic form of maintaining your attention to the breath. Throughout this class you can return to this counting method to help you stay focused in the breath. Do breath without movement until you are fully engaged with your breath. The mechanics of our minds dictate frequent thought, and basic meditation can be difficult, so, in the beginning we can just be satisfied with creating moments without chatter (monkey brain) in our day dedicated to meditation and build upon it as our mind un-learns it's preexisting thinking patterns and habits. Avoid thinking of your meditation as outcome based. Simply enjoy a few moments of silence, autonomy and solidarity in capital S self now. We are going to the other side of our thinking minds, our monkey minds, dis identifying with our mental soundtracks that tell us we'd be better off doing the dishes, or that our kids needs should take precedence over this meditation, or that we look silly etc etc.
glossary of terms *meditation = is non reactivity *Basic meditation = mindlessness (avoid a focus, avoid thinking) it is a strategy that tricks the mind into a state of non-thinking to allow for restoration. Focuses your attention on one thing. *Mindfulness meditation = to train the mind to be able to concentrate. Focuses your attention on specific thoughts and sensations that arise in our field of awareness and concentrate on them without attachment, for longer and longer periods of time. Focusing on the breath can be both basic meditation, and mindful meditation. Intention is key; focusing on the breath to escape the ego and realize your inner divinity = basic meditation (Hindu practice) *Focusing on the breath in order to harness and train the mind, and view stimuli with non-attachment or a non-judgemental nature = mindfulness meditation (Buddhist tradition) *Mindfulness = applying the non-reactivity we cultivate through meditation in our daily lives. *Prana; the essential life force of the universe.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

A Pregnant Yoga

I am now in the last month of my second pregnancy and thought I would take this opportunity to talk about my experience with practicing Yoga while pregnant. I practiced yoga in my first pregnancy, and in my second pregnancy and in both I gained roughly 60 pounds. By the end of these pregnancies, at times, I felt like foreigner in my own body. The general expectation is that you are not to admit these perceived short-comings of Maternal Goddessness. I am not the perfect Goddess, according the Modern New Age scripture, it seems, as I am fully admitting that I have felt funny, awkward, uncomfortable, frustrated, weird at times when I am pregnant. I also have felt wonderful, awe-struck, dewy-eyed and euphoric. There is an important part about the learning that happens when you practice asana while pregnant. You are forced to acknowledge that we are transformative beings. This opportunity does not come up too much in life. It challenges our over-dependency on the cult of body in the west. For some unknown reason, we are not really aware of our transformative nature in our regular day-to-day lives, despite all arrows pointing towards the target of truth; that nothing is permanent and nothing is fixed. We think we are static and we think we can control our state according to our own self-appointed rules. We act out of will and believe, blindly, that our will is a rule that the Universe acknowledges. It is not. So... when you practice Yoga asana while pregnant it is important to remember the following things;

You are not your body, and more than ever before, you do not own your body. As Maitriyogi said,
"Oh King, this body, which is like something you have borrowed for a short time and must return"

 Give in to the changes in your body; (don’t or...) Do asana that feels good; slow down, settle down, listen.

You are different than everyone else around you. Revel in this knowledge. Also, love yourself through your practice; know that you are strong. Let this knowledge seep from your pores as you flow through breath and movement or stillness. 

Even if you are simply lying in the quiet in savasana, enjoy the strength that pregnancy and, ultimately, raising a child delivers; it is not solely a physical tangible strength, much of this comes from a place beyond skin, bone and muscle.

Know that you will change again, but you won’t change back. Be happy and well with this knowledge.

Feel great love for yourself and the life inside you. Talk internally to this life force while you flow through breath, movement or stillness. In the end, this is YOUR journey; you and the life force within. Externalizing this journey and relying on others to guide you is something that has placed fear in the hearts of many a strong woman. You have got this.

Of course, there are other details that bare mentioning; like the do and don’t list of what to stretch and what not to stretch, of what poses are considered safe and which ones are to avoid... but, I believe these factors to be tertiary to the above. More on that here http://yoga.about.com/od/prenatalyoga/a/thirdtrimester.htm

I am sure I could say more about the experience of practicing while really very pregnant, but, sleep and rest are beckoning ;)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Fast-Food or Self Serve...

I believe that Yoga is largely about service. Service to Self, Community and, ultimately, The Universe. Over the past few months I have been actively avoiding the studios in my city. I have not found  a studio that I feel and see embodying the qualities that I believe Yoga embodies. I like to practice my asana with people. I thrive off the energy of community. I am a natural collaborator. Unfortunately, as of late, I do not see spaces that are fostering Yoga communities that serve. The aims of the common Modern Western Yoga Space seem obvious, down-right transparent actually. When it comes to most studios I have encounter in this city (and others for that matter) it is about capital; make money, create a niche, create an image, make money... Each space homogenized enough that one feels, looks and sounds like the next only with a more expensive and trendy lounge area, or more attractive and younger teachers, depending on what their image is. Thankfully, after a six month break from any studio yoga what-so-ever I recently stumbled upon a new space that, in the early days of our relationship seems humbly centered in a practice that serves. I was careful to seek out the most non-pretentious space possible while I was shopping for my new space. I looked for something humble. No flashing neon signs, or pushy self-promotion for me. I realize that I may be over-looking the difficulties involved in starting up a studio... but, frankly, my dear, I don't give a damn! 

This blog post is from the perspective of a middle-aged practicioner (That's me); not a Yoga teacher or a studio owner. Just a 37 year old woman, who looks and acts much like many other 37 year old women who wants a Yoga space to call her own. I have had enough hard-sells and phony dogma served with my Yoga for this life-time (and the next!) and, call me crazy, but I still believe that somewhere, somehow, there is a space for average people like me. The people who do not wear 140 dollar branded yoga pants because they don't serve. Sure they are a flattering fit, I get that, but they are just not worth it and they are the fuel of an engine of commercialism that I do not prescribe to. Self, Other or Universe. These pants and other adjuncts to the commercial Yoga movement serve The Almighty Corporation and not much else. I am looking for a studio space where people who think that if a Yoga class is practiced at a public park or beach or community-funded conservation area it should be free, or at the very least, a by-donation Karma class with the profits going back to serve the community itself and not cost $20 per person... money that goes to the teacher or studio that uses the public space for a means to a financial end. I want a studio space where  people who practice a slower asana, a tempered asana feel welcomed and comfortable, not as though they need to compete with their obviously younger, hotter counter-parts (and teachers). These are just some of the wishes on my personal wish list and this blog post is, clearly, about indulging in the hopes that there are readers out there who get it too. The new studio I have been visiting makes me think there is and here's why in ten simple steps...

1) The classes are priced according to the market

Though I personally do not agree that a practice that requires a mat, no shoes and loose baggy comfort clothing should cost an average of $15 per drop-in class, what I do agree with is asking the market rate for your classes when you open a new studio in a community of established studios. This is respectful and also, your students will know that your studio will a) stand the test of time (i.e. not go under in 6-9 months, or in the summer when people choose to move their practice into the sunshine) and b) your students can plan to pay equal amounts over the year and thus, develop a daily, weekly Yoga practice with no financial surprises. 

2) The teachers are consistent and stable, and happy and the owner is present and visible as members of the community

Turn-over of teachers (or staff) in any employment setting is never a good thing. Be wary of the studio that has rapid turn-over of their teachers or instructors. It is not easy getting teaching gigs in the Yoga business. Teachers do not leave frequently unless they are unhappy, under-paid or inconsistently paid or disrespected. If the studio has a OZ complex; i.e. the owners are never there or pop in from time-to-time to check on things this probably means they are not interested in serving the community, as they are not consistently a part of it. 

3) There are Karma classes and the studio gives back to the community

The studio is serving the community through active fundraising and offering Karma classes so those who cannot afford classes can still practice, at least once a week. This studio is currently honored through signage on a main street near by, placed there by the recipient of the most recent Karma fundraiser; the SPCA. 

4) Some studios offer the opportunity for people to trade skills

Some studios will ask for help with cleaning and even desk responsibilities in exchange for free Yoga. I have always respected a studio that allows for this opportunity.

5) They offer a wide array of asana classes for a wide array of people

I realize this one can be controversial. Everyone these days seems to have a take on how Yoga should be practiced. There are rules. Firstly, I would like to point out that Yoga (traditionally speaking) was never actually meant for studio spaces and group classes. It was a practice and relationship between Self and sometimes teacher and student, guru and disciple. The studio class is an adaption, so why not adapt it so it fits all kinds of personalities, body types, needs, energies. This is possible. I think these days it is called fusion but regardless, a studio that creates a space where diverse teachers can teach to diverse needs aims to reach out to the whole community, not just the niche community of people who appear young, hot and fit. 

6) They offer classes throughout the day at a variety of times

This is simple but a necessity. It came as a huge surprise to me (and a huger disappointment) that group fitness was literally almost unavailable to me after having children. Many classes are during peak parenting hours and do not have on-site babysitting or classes that single mothers (or mothers who carry the brunt of parental responsibility) can attend. All studios should have evening classes (*8 p.m.) and morning classes (*6 a.m.) for their community members who do not fit the mold of worker ant 9-5er. If anyone cares suggest a spinning class in Mississauga at 8 p.m. or 8:30 p.m. I am still searching for one, 3.5 years postpartum!

7) The students are a visible array of people of all ages, shapes, sizes and experience

This is very important. The studio attracts a real community. There are older people, younger people, bigger people, smaller people, mothers and daughters, men and women, pregnant people and teens. It is obvious that all people feel welcome and comfortable in this space. A true must of any studio space I will step into to!

8) They are not heavily laden with yoga accessories, frills and whistles

Yes, this space has a few small things it sells at the front desk; some incense, some eye pillows but I do not feel like I just walked into a Lululemon when I walk through the door. I do not feel an urge to spend more money or pressure to buy more stuff. I am not distracted. There is no homogenized zen music, no tea lounge or inspirational diet, yoga, lifestyle book nook. There are just cubbies for your shoes and a small quiet studio for practice. In fact, this studio does not even have a shower, as I was told by the studio owner herself, it is not necessary as you will not sweat enough to require a shower the instant you come out of class. I like this element of this studio, as my personal belief is that yoga empowers through breath not tempo or pace. 

9) There is no acro yoga, glow-in-the-dark yoga or disco yoga

I am sorry if I am offending anyone here, because I do know there is a market for such things... but to me, these are distraction from the journey I am on with my Yoga. I do not want to hang from the ceiling, practice in a dark room with strobe lights or to pumping music (in fact, unless the music is extremely subdued, I prefer to practice to the sound of my breath and the breath of the others in the room). I see the purpose of music as guiding for some, but think it must be moderate and measured. 

10) There is no stream of rhetoric or dogma served with the classes

The teachers at this studio just teach. I do not have to worry about having someone read me quotes from the latest self-help or inspiration coffee table book and I do not have to consider how I may live a happier or richer life throughout my asana class. I am just guided through the poses, with verbal prompts that are sensitive to those who may need assistance (props etc) and there are moments of silence as well. Long moments, in fact. I personally have come to treasure this quality in the classes at the studio (and as a teacher myself, have learned things from this). A poignant instruction is worth a thousand vapid ones. One of my esteemed past teachers frequently offers this instruction while we practiced asana together, FEEL HAPPY.

If you are living in the Mississauga area and, like me, this kind of studio practice sounds appealing, please check out YogaCity, they are also on Facebook!

Friday, March 29, 2013

Spring Abundance and Mindfulness

Spring has arrived! The yellow crocus have fiercely pushed through the trampled under brush and there is a gallery of wonderful wet earth smells everywhere. There are puddles to jump in or over, the sun is getting up with me or before me. I feel alive... It is good.

My mind perks up in these early days of spring. It's like I've had a whiff of smelling salts every time I step out the door. I've cleaned my shelved soul, opened the windows, thrown out the damaged goods and I am letting the chilled air pour into all the dank corners. I also returned to the studio. Meh.

Why, oh, why can't I find a decent place to practice yoga within twenty kms of my home? Please help.

Also, why are there so many 'new' yoga's, that claim the name of a powerful ancient soul practice, that are ALL THE SAME?

Signed, desperately seeking community, depth and mindfulness xo

Saturday, February 9, 2013

A Yoga Teacher's Mid-Life Crisis

Hello Again!

It's been a busy beginning to the New Year (incidentally, today is the beginning of the Chinese New Year - Year of the Snake!) and I've taken a little hiatus from blogging over the holiday season. There have been a few developments that lead to this; I find the holiday season stressful, I get S.A.D during the darkest days of the year and need to regenerate energy by self-focus, meditation (this involves a lot of cooking of stews and soups, burning candles, long, hot detox baths, spending any time I have with family and good friends and not blogging ;). Today is a beautiful winter day, we received the gift of at least three feet of soft, white snow over the last 24 hours, and the sun is shining down making everything diamonds. It's breath-taking! I'll be out there soon, skiing by the river, but I'm inspired and wanted to share!

One of the developments that took me off-line for awhile was that I have stopped teaching yoga. This is not really a big deal, and it's happened before (I stopped teaching when I had my first child, through my pregnancy and until 8 months post-partum) but, for the most part, I've taught yoga in studios across the GTA for the past ten years. The 'crisis' part is that I don't think I'm going back. Ever.

And here is why...

I love Yoga. I believe yoga is for everyone; small, big, thick, thin, able of body, working with challenges... Everybody deserves yoga. I also have been confronted (again) with the fact that yoga as a capitalist system does not work. I've always put this behind me, as though it was not my business because, ultimately, it was, well, not my business! My attitude was that I was merely a contract teacher working under the umbrella of a studio. My recent experience challenged this perspective through rather emotional measures, and that is good. I was essentially 'fired' from a yoga studio. The reason I was given was that, "I'd created reactivity and tension" in the studio. Okay, fine.

The development leading up to receiving the email that told me I was no longer needed to teach my three classes a week, 48 hours before I was expected to teach them, was that I had not received a pay cheque for over two months. I'll preface this by saying that teaching (yoga) is not my main source of income and so I did not starve or miss credit card payments. I should also say, that after several emails expressing my discontent, I was eventually paid in-full for my services. I was made to wait, and to pursue my payments... And I was vocal about how disrespectful I felt this was. Employers have a responsibility to their employees to pay them for their services, timely and based upon contractual terms.

I was vocal, also, about my commitment to my discipline and training in yoga. I had been asked to not teach my style of yoga by the owners of this studio several months early. I suppose it was not considered 'marketable' (though the classes, at roughly ten dollars per student per class, were always full - an average of 25 people per class, so one would think there was a fair profit/expense margin) and I did try my best to comply to the wishes of the owners, without denying my basis understanding of yoga, as taught in my teachers training course and through my ten year relationship with my discipline.  Ultimately, my understanding of yoga was not a good fit for this studio, and I was let go in an email that sited my attitude as the reason for my removal from the studio, stating, "you to have the potential to be an outstanding teacher, but your attitude at the studio and around business decisions" has effectively lead to your termination. I was also encouraged never to return.

I'm not here to air my dirty laundry, but the description above will help with the argument I am developing. It seems obvious to me that a person who is good at their job should not be 'let go' because they do not share the same attitude as their employers. Similarly, a person who is committed to their 'practice', does not need money to have a continued relationship with said practice. I'm in an interesting position at the beginning of the Year of the Snake, where both of my jobs, and (unfortunately) my entire income, are deeply rooted in my passions. Some people are never so lucky! There is not a day that passes where I pine for another life, another moment, other than the one I am in. I don't check my seniority or my retirement date because I am happy; right here, right now... But, when your making money from your passions an interesting thing happens. Your passions are suddenly controlled by your pay check and vice versa... And that IS a tricky business indeed.

(to be continued)...

Monday, November 5, 2012

within you without you

'When you've seen beyond yourself,
Then you may find,
Peace of mind is waiting there,
In addition, the time will come,
When you see we are all one,
And life flows on within and without you' 

George Harrison- The Beatles 1967

 As Yoga continues to deeply transform concepts around body, physicality, exercise and self in the post-modern age, many people try to answer the question, "what is YOGA?" and struggle to qualify 'purpose' in the practice and articulation of this ancient ritual of self exploration.  For many, yoga remains a spiritual practice, existing in the spiritual realm of 'the self' with attachments to religion and dogma.  For just as many, yoga has become a form of exercise with dominant attachments to the body and to the physical self.  Where does yoga come from... within us or without us?

Hatha Yoga, a commonly practiced yoga in the studios of the west, uses the body as a ‘doorway’; where as Jnana Yoga (not as commonly practiced) uses the mind.  The idea with a Hatha practice, is that rather than 'forcing' yourself into uncomfortable postures that are not attainable (in this moment), one works to their 'edge' and views the 'message' the body is sending, without judgment of attachment.  The message is to be viewed 'in the moment' as reflective of the temporal state of the (multiple layers of) self.  The reflection can speak to the individual’s mental, emotional, physical states and both the physical and subtle 'self'.  This way we are looking at our limitations to define our true potential.  This is duality.  The western language (of understanding)  is one that exists and originates from a systemic binary; quite contrary to the idea that 'limitation' and 'potential' can come from the same place, or from the same energy.  Just as many eastern religions tend to find their philosophical root in multitheism; an appreciation of multiple deities for multiple reasons and the history of western Christianity is born out of an emergence of monotheism (from paganism), a devotion to one God only, the polarization of these concepts has effected the differing ways people 'view and perceive' themselves.  This 'perception' of self can easily be said to have been isolated by culture and nurture over time.  It is more difficult for people who have been raised on the strict diet of binaries that create strong 'self-schema' (healthy vs. sick, strong vs. weak, fat vs. skinny, etc) to embrace a flexible fluctuating awareness of 'the self'.

Jnana Yoga uses the mind to 'stretch' self-concept and perception.  The challenge here is that, in the post-modern age of 'the self', the role of body is decidedly physical and dominant.  Our body image is part of our self-schema.  The body image includes;
  • The perceptual experience of the body
  • The conceptual experience of the body—what we have been told and believe about our body, including scientific information, hearsay, myth, etc.
  • The emotional attitude towards the body
Our body schemata may transcend the realities of what our bodies actually are—or in other words, we may have a different mental picture of our bodies than what they physically are.  Concepts around 'exercising the body' as a 'mostly' (physical) being, defining the (physical) body  as 'an act of volition through space', 'forceful and with (self-prescribed) direction and pace', a notion that exercising the body is an act that involves 'movement'... all of these are attachments and schematics of a western-world perception of the body.  All of these would limit a Yoga practice; therefore, all of these should begin the process of potential.  Yoga is not a series of poses to 'acquire' or accumulate skill in practice.  You cannot get better, or be better at Yoga.  When we practice asana, we may find ourselves engaging in dialogue ( developed mental habits) where we 'judge' or analyze our practice, where we anticipate (look forward to the 'next' pose, the 'most challenging' pose), we are ambitious (look to the gains of the future), are competitive (wish we were better, stronger, faster... we think the instructor/the person in front/behind/beside us is 'better, stronger, faster') - Yoga is the positioning of all of the inquires, doubts and fears in front of you, so you will really 'look' at them. What you do with them is up to you.  Rumi wrote, "When the mirror of the heart becomes pure and clear, impressions of the other world will become manifest. The image and the image-maker will become visible, like the carpet and the carpet-spreader.”  If Hatha Yoga uses the body as the 'doorway' towards enlightenment and Jnana yoga uses the mind... perhaps the translator is the heart.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

The Yin of Winter

Do you ever imagine your winter day as follows; you, curled up in front of a roaring fire, sipping on something warm and delicious, with your favorite slippers on and your favorite book, quiet snow falling on the other side of the windowpane, and Thelonious Monk playing on the stereo... You have no place to go, there is no rush, you don't need to get in your car and drive into the tempest. Your soul's purpose is to rest and, despite a fallacy that suggests otherwise, regrowth is happening in the winter, deep beneath the snow and stillness... and deep under the wooly sweaters and socks, skin, bone and beating heart - There is regrowth.

The season provokes many attachments; to fears of the cold, to fears of dying, departure, solitude. We often find ourselves rushing into the wild winds and sleet to 'produce' the same energy we would on any other day, any other season, in contrast with nature, as usual. Do you, like me, languish in the months of January through March, pining for the spring, thinking of nothing else? Winter gets a bum wrap, and here is why. We do winter all wrong. "Instead of having fun, we often end up feeling ill, anxious, or depressed. The reason, according to Taoist philosophy and traditional Chinese medicine, is that the action-packed schedules we keep at this time of year fall out of sync with the earth's natural cycles." http://www.yogajournal.com/health/101 - We need to replenish in winter; take time to nurture a different part of the self and sustain by eating a different diet and doing different things with our bodies, with time, with space; all elements of a well-rounded yoga practice.

"Taoist philosophy conceptualizes universal balance in terms of yin and yang, complementary forces that govern the universe. Yin characteristics are cool, wet, slow, feminine, and quiet, whereas yang is the opposite: warm, dry, fast, masculine, extroverted. Winter, the yin season, is a time for storing and conserving energy in the way a bear retains fat by hibernating, or a farmer stores food for the cold months ahead." http://www.yogajournal.com/health/101

Eat warm, slow-cooked, nourishing foods. GET a slow-cooker, use it in the winter. Turn off the t.v. and the computer (well, after you've check this blog, of course!) and read more. Write in a journal. Turn off the lights and light scented candles with rich aromas of cinnamon and vanilla and MEDITATE. Stare at the flame and watch it dance. Let go (or be dragged).

"The incongruity between winter's restful, introspective, yin nature and the frenetic way many Americans spend their holidays can contribute to seasonal affective disorder, depression, exhaustion, and other manifestations of what is known in TCM as shen (or spiritual) disharmony" http://www.yogajournal.com/health/101

3 or 4 days before Christmas, when everyone else is frantically racing from mall to mall, invite your friends and family over for a different kind of party. Celebrate the shortest day of the year with crafts, warm food and drink and laughter. For Wiccans, the holiday of Yule (or Yuletide) is about bidding farewell  to the old, and celebrating the new things yet to come. As the sun returns to the earth, and days get longer again, life begins once again. Have your own Yule celebration or create a ritual. Abandon the commercialism of this holiday and pay homage to the longest night of the year by  nurturing the yin nature of winter and bringing the light; to your home, to your Yoga and to your spirit.