By guest author Keeley Mitchell, Zi Living
For better or for worse, the holiday season is here. The verdict is still out for me on whether it is for better or for worse.
Like most, when the holiday season comes, I often start to feel stressed and overwhelmed. It is like I am on the verge of an anxiety attack at any minute because I am trying to do everything and still create the perfect holiday experience for my family.
This year I tried to cancel Christmas with the proclamation that Santa Claus had quit because he was sick of managing the elves and reindeer and all the stress that came along with it.
Unfortunately, my six year old quickly dismissed my proclamation by saying that he was pretty sure that Santa Claus had not quit his job, and he will consult with his friends at school to confirm whether my facts were true.
Damn! I tried!
So needlessly to say, Christmas is still on in my house, and I am trying to manage my stress levels. One of the ways I am managing my stress is by turning to my mat for comfort. I am focusing on my breathing and the asanas to relax and to centre me. Taking to heart Kara-Leah’s reminder in How to Calm an Overactive Mind with Yoga, my focus has been all about the breath when I am on the mat.
I breathe in. I breathe out. And as I move through my breath-led sequences, my sanity slowly begins to return along with some much needed clarity.
Why does the holiday season turn us on our heads? What is it about this time of the year that stresses us out so much?
As I move through my sequences, it begins to dawn on me. It is the torture of self-analysis that we naturally do as one year ends and a new one begins.
- What went right this year?
- What went wrong?
- Am I where I want to be in my life?
- What changes do I need to make?
- Will the New Year finally bring the life or love that I have been craving?
Now, if this self-analysis is done in a positive manner, it can really be beneficial. We can use this self-analysis to make forward movement in our lives.
Unfortunately, many of us take stock of our lives and our years through a harsh, critical lenses.
We then proclaim a bunch of empty New Year’s resolutions that pacify our fear of going deeper and really addressing the issues underlying our reasons for being unsatisfied with where we are in life. Our resolutions inevitably fail because we don’t want to do the nitty-gritty work that gets us to the core of the matter.
Please don’t feel as though I am putting myself on a pedestal and pointing at finger at everyone. I am as guilty of this pattern as the next person. Going inward is hard and we are not always ready to confront what lies underneath the layers.
However, I am ready for a change!
I am challenging myself and others to break this cyclical pattern.
Let us use our yoga practice to truly go inward and deal with our demons and come out victorious in 2014. Let us use our breath-led asanas to get in touch with our bodies, needs and desires. Let 2014 not only be a new year, but a new era in our lives.
I am taking the reigns and agreeing to lead the revolution on changing how we manage our lives and our businesses.
This revolution is about finding fulfilment and happiness in our lives and building businesses that warm our hearts and still allow us to have the means to support the lifestyle we desire for ourselves and our love ones.
To make sure 2014 is monumental and delivers our hearts’ desire for our personal lives and businesses, I have put together five action steps to get you and your business through the stress of the holiday season and ready for 2014. These steps can be worked through all at once or done over the course of a few days. Personally, I would do them over the course of a few days so you can truly work through each step mindfully. So pull out your mats and get ready!
Action Step 1 – Self acceptance is vital to success.
After moving through some postures to warm yourself up, I want you select a posture that you find challenging. That posture that makes you cringe whenever you think about it or try it. Yup, that one. I want you to practice this pose with an open, forgiving heart and most importantly, with self-acceptance. The purpose of this step is not to find perfection. As we all know, yoga is not about finding perfection. However, finding self-acceptance of who we are and our talents, capabilities and limitations IS a part of the practice.
So my first challenge to you is to find self-acceptance. Think of your accomplishments and embrace them. With respect to your failures, embrace those too. Don’t shy away from your failures. Think of them as lessons learned and a place where growth is still needed. No one is perfect, and we all have lessons that we need to learn – no matter what stage we are in our lives.
Action Step 2 – Celebrate you and your business.
After completing Step 1, I want you to take a moment and celebrate your accomplishments for 2013. Maybe you finally opened your studio. Or maybe you finally started that email newsletter that you had been putting off. Better yet, maybe you simply made the commitment to follow your dream of having a yoga business. Whatever it is, celebrate it.
And what better way to celebrate and honor thyself than doing a sun salutation sequence?
The Sanskrit name for sun salutation is Surya Namaskar. Namaskar stems from the Sanskrit word namas, which means “to adore” or “to bow to.” In essence, Surya Namaskar is a humble adoration of the light within. This sequence can be practiced in the spirit of devotion and with an inward awareness towards the heart. As you move through the sequence, allow yourself to truly honor the light within you.
Action Step 3 – Take time for honest reflection of the past year.
Now, that you have celebrated you and your accomplishments, take a moment to reflect on what did not work in 2013.
Did you try offering a new class that no one attended? Did you run a marketing campaign that failed to bring in more students?
While you reflect, settle into the moon pose (a la the Bikram variation). I chose this pose for this action step because the moon is associated with emotion.
Are you in touch with your emotions? Are you comfortable with exploring the depths of your emotions? As you lean further into the pose, focus on whether there are any negative emotions about your business you are trying avoid.
Allow these negative emotions to bubble up to the surface. This is an opportunity to delve deeper into some of the negative feelings you are having about your business. If you don’t confront these feelings, then you will never be able to resolve the issues that surround them.
Action Step 4 – Re-evaluate what you truly want out of life and for your business.
Now that you have had a chance to celebrate the positive and reflect on the negative, it is time to re-evaluate.
- What is it you truly want for yourself?
- What is it you truly want for your business?
- What things are you no longer willing to compromise on?
Don’t be afraid to answer these questions. There is nothing wrong with declaring your wants and going after them.
There are two great poses to do this re-evaluation in. The first pose is Cobra Pose. I think this is a great pose for re-evaluation because of the way a cobra moves. It travels along the ground on its belly, but in order to see clearly it must reach up.
Often in life we move remaining low to the ground engrossed in our chase for worldly pursuits. Only when we stop and take a second to rise above the material world do we gain insight into what really matters and truly see our true potential.
The second position for this action step is Eagle Pose. While challenging at first, the pose becomes easier as we become more flexible and stronger. Settling into the Eagle Pose helps us gain clarity on our purpose and determine what is important in life.
Action Step 5 – Make a plan for your business that includes accountability.
The last action step involves setting forth a plan of attack. You have pondered on what worked for 2013 and what did not. Further, you have come to the realisation about certain things you want without a doubt and that you are no longer willing to compromise on. Armed this knowledge, set forth a plan on how you are going to accomplish your goals in 2014.
I know as yogis we practice trying to be present and in the moment, but in order to take our businesses to the next level there needs to be some degree of planning. So write out your intentions for your business and lay out the steps you are going to take to achieve your intentions. Also build in measures that will hold you accountable for achieving your goals.
And the recommended posture to facilitate this planning? Bow pose of course! In this position, we tense our bodies like a bow that is aimed and ready to shoot. Think about what you are aiming for? Do your goals have purpose? Are they defined? As you breathe into this pose, think about whether you are truly ready to do what it takes to make your dreams a reality? Will the effort to achieve your goals be worth it?
So there you have it. Five action steps that will keep you sane this holiday season and prepare you and your business for 2014.
It is so important to take time to assess where you have been and where you are going. It is imperative to do this assessment if you are want to have a successful yoga business. Actually, you don’t need to wait until the end of the year to do these action steps. Feel free to work through these steps on a bi-annual basis. Oh heck, do these steps every quarter of the year if that works for you! All that matters is that you do it!
I have a feeling as I get older, I may start doing these action steps every year when my birthday comes around. However, for right now, I am going to focus on getting through this holiday season and seeing if I can convince my son that Santa Claus really did quit his job.
Happy Holidays everyone and see you in 2014!