At this time of year, I often remind my yoga students to take some down time; to intentionally carve out some time for quiet, rest and reflection. We can so easily get stressed and out of balance during the holidays. We get very busy. Parties, shopping, school concerts and events. Depending on your profession, work can become crazy-busy at this time of year too. If you’re in the hospitality industry or have year-end deadlines to hit, the stress increases.
All this is amplified by that fact that what we are doing is diametrically opposed to what nature is doing. We are living completely out of sync with nature’s rhythms at this time of year. You only have to look around to see that what nature is doing, is very different from what we are doing. Trees and bushes are dormant. Flowers are not blooming. Wild animals are hibernating. You might even notice your pets sleeping more. The days are short and the nights are long. We should be resting more and sleeping more. Rejuvenating. If we follow nature’s rhythm, spring and summer should be our most active times. We should be recovering from all that now.
Of course, we are not going to stop celebrating our holidays and hibernate. But it is important to rest more, so we don’t burn out.
I’ve been pushing myself in a lot of ways. And some good has come from it. I’ve been working out hard and am beginning to see a stronger body emerge. I’ve been throwing myself into my job and being innovative and taking a leadership role at work. I’ve also been excitedly creating my new coaching program (which you will hear more about very soon). I spent six weeks on a ketogenic diet, which was amazing in many ways. I felt focused and sharp, lost weight, offloaded my cravings and propensity for snacking.
There’s been a downside to all this pushing. According to Ayurveda, what I’ve done is pushed myself right into a pitta imbalance. (If you’re not familiar with Ayurvedic doshas – vata, pitta and kapha, click here for an explanation and quiz, to find out your propensities). All three doshas have positive qualities when balanced and negative effects when out of balance. The characteristics of pitta are sharp, hot, intense, fiery. So, when in balance, pitta types make great leaders and entrepreneurs, are smart, funny, interesting and inquisitive. Pitta out of balance leads to anger, irritation, sharpness, short-temperedness. Qualities that pacify pitta are sweetness and cooling, calming activities.
I got sharp. Which isn’t all bad. My focus has been sharp. I’ve been able to get a lot done. But I was also getting short-tempered and angry.
So, I’m focusing on bringing some sweetness back into my life. That doesn’t mean loading up on Christmas cookies and eggnog. According to Ayurveda, most, if not all carbohydrates are considered “sweet.” This makes sense from a Western perspective, because carbs convert to glucose in our bodies. On the keto diet, I was getting no sweet at all.
I’ll be navigating the rest of the holiday season, through self-care and sweetness. A little less pushing. A few more carbs. More yoga and meditation. More snuggling with my kid. Connecting to spirit, reading and rereading yoga books and spiritual texts. Being easier on myself and others.
I want to wake up on January 1, 2019, feeling good, refreshed, joyful. Ready to start the new year and focus on my intentions. I may do keto again sometime. I’ll definitely have periods where I push myself hard again. But, as we move towards the darkest day of the year, I am moving towards softness, sweetness and rest.