Christmas is a time of joy for many of us and we should absolutely soak up that good feeling and let it fill our happy jars to the brim. Sometimes though, all the parties, meetings with old friends, special festive events, giving and receiving of gifts, can all feel a little overwhelming and even exhausting. For some people, family dynamics can be tense and money worries are often cited as a source of stress at this time of year. Even worse, loneliness can affect many of us at this time of year. This Christmas I’ll be trying to live the yogic concept of aparigraha ‘non attachment’ in order to find nourishment rather than exhaustion in the holidays. I’ve set the intention to care a little less about the things that don’t matter to reduce my stress levels and keep things level headed for those around me. If it really comes down to it, and all I can manage to organise in the way of Christmas shopping is to make a beautiful card for the people I love, then is that really the worst thing in the world? Probably not. If I don’t attend every single Christmas event in my calendar because I’m tired and want to go home and get in a hot bath, am I really missing out on that much and in danger of becoming a social and professional pariah? Unlikely. If a family member snaps at me because I didn’t set the table right for Christmas lunch does it mean they don’t love me? Definitely not. Holidays, like families and the practice of yoga, are never perfect. So maybe it’s time just to take a deep breath, a step back, and let the chaos wash warmly over us rather than through us. Extend kindness to yourself, your loved ones, and strangers, because that’s all that really matters, the rest of it is just tinsel.
I’ve chosen this forearm bridge as this month’s pose because it is still a struggle for me and requires patience and the cultivation of non attachment, which is in line with my thoughts about the festive break. The heart opening effects are wonderful for stoking our sense of abundance, and the arm variation is enough of a challenge to take us out of our comfort zones, but still stay grounded. This is quite a strong backbend, so please proceed with caution and warm up with several rounds of sun salutations, front body and shoulder openers, and back strengthening postures before you attempt it. Remember that it may happen for you today, or it may not for another year, be accepting of both of those possibilities to cultivate aparigraha and simply enjoy the process.
Warm up as advised above and then follow the steps below
- Start lying on your back with your knees facing up, and the soles of the feet on the floor hip distance apart.
- Bring the hands alongside the ears and push into the feet to lift the hips off the floor. Keep magnetising the inner thighs towards each other and drawing the shoulder blades down the back and then push into the palms of the hands to straighten the arms to bring you into full wheel.
- Breathe here (lowering down carefully if there is too much strain or any pain) feeling the heart centre broaden.
- When you are ready, slowly shift the weight into one hand and lift the other hand up and point the fingers towards the feet as you lay the forearm down.
- Repeat with the other arm
- Keep pressing down into the elbows, softening the lower ribs in, and magnetising the inner thighs gently towards each other.
By Jasmine Pradhan from stretchandthecity.co.uk Jasmine teaches Hatha yoga (sometimes dynamic, sometimes slower) with an open heart and an open mind. She believes that every individual already has the tools they need to achieve true happiness and wellbeing, and that sometimes they just need a little help discovering them. She truly believes that a dedicated yoga practice can be the key to that toolbox, and aims to facilitate that discovery for her students. Disclaimer: Always consult with your doctor before starting any new physical activity. Always practice under the supervision of a qualified teacher.