by Jan Pratt
Yoga Chitti Vrtti Nirodhah
As Halloween drew near this month, the weather shifted from warm sunny days to atrocious wind and even snow flurries in town and white-covered mountains in the distance. You can hear the wind beating on the roof and the moment you step outside you are almost swept away. This is the energy of change right up in your face.
While I love being outdoors, the wind and dropping temperatures, mentally send me to the warmth of the blanket on my couch and the comfort of a cup of tea. I physically have to pluck myself up and get the heck out of the house to get fresh air and exercise.
That is for many of us the transition from fall to winter. We start nesting just like the animals we see around us. They are finding dens or filling their homes with food for the winter. They are preparing.
In Ayurveda, this is Vatta energy. The wind swirling us around just like thoughts swirling in our heads. The sutra “Yoga Chitti Vritti Nirodhah” reminds us in this time of transition and upheaval that if we can settle the fluctuations of the mind then we have reached the state of yoga. Nischala Joy Devi in her book “The Secret Power of Yoga” translates this same sutra as “yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart.”
Getting out of the head and dropping into the heart.
This time, as we approach darker and colder days, encourages us to find out what is truly important to us. What do we want to cultivate in our lives? What can we let go of?
This can be a great time for journaling, meditation, or creating vision boards. It is also a great time to find poses that ground your energy and support your efforts of reflection and connection to self.
Try these practices are winter approaches:
Sitting in an easy pose, place your peace fingers on the floor to either side of you. So the eyes. Soften the breath. Imagine the energy of the earth, moving from the earth, through your fingers, and into your body. Imagine any energy that you don’t need flowing down the arms and into the earth to be recycled. Stay here for several minutes.
Alternate Nostril Breathing:
This is a balancing breath. So taking the earth’s energy from Bhu mudra and using the breath, invite balance into your life. Taking your thumb, block off the right nostril. Breathe in through the left. Take your middle finger and block off the left nostril, and exhale right. Breathing in right, block the right nostril. Breathe out left. Repeat for 5 or more rounds. After the last round, drop the hand and notice the mind and the body. What do you feel?
Still sitting, start to rotate the torso right, forward, left, and back. Make a large circle with the body. When the motion feels smooth, bring in the breath. Inhaling forward and exhaling back. Move as fast or slow as you would like. Rotate in one direction for 1 to 3 minutes and then change direction.
This kriya (repeated action) works with the grounding energy of the root chakra at the base of the spine. Taking that energy and moving it up the spine often energizes the body.
When you have finished, come back to Bhu mudra and just notice the mind and body. Has the speed of the thoughts changed? What do you notice about your energy?
Take time to journal or reflect.
While the wind still blows and my thoughts still swirl, I force myself out the door to move my body after I practice. For me, nature is a balm to my soul even when it hits extremes. But in these times of extremes, I come back to my practice and allow intentions to bubble up and come to rest in the heart. I trust my heart will know the right course. What is your heart singing to you in this season of change?
For the family, this is a great practice to do together. After practice, you have family goal-setting sessions or even create a family vision board.
What a great way to spend some cold winter nights together!