It's that time of the year when New Year's Resolutions are all the rage. Forget the resolutions and join me on a Winter Yoga Renewal.
About five years ago, my sister introduced our family to Kangeiko. This is the traditional intensive Winter training practiced by many martial arts. The purpose is to commit to strengthening and training the body, mind and spirit. The first year, Kangeiko felt like a major punishment, but it's now become a welcome New Year's ritual (especially due to the unending buffet of holiday treats). Each year the commitment to the practice is intensified and the residual affects are noticeable. When you spend a month focusing on change with purpose and intention you can really make it happen.
Unlike New Year's Resolutions, several Kangeiko changes we have made throughout the years have become new habits for our family. We were introduced to agave as an alternative sweetener, found a yummy bread without high-fructose corn syrup, have eaten more vegetarian meals and regularly purge our closet (not enough though). Last year, I applied Kangeiko to my yoga practice and it was a really nice fit. It really helped to change my attitude, my physical strength and focus.
If you'd like to join in, here are the guidelines. I would love to hear how you incorporate them into your lifestyle, practice and goals.
Winter Yoga Renewal
The Winter Yoga Renewal begins on Monday, January 2 and ends on Tuesday, January 31.
Commit to practicing everyday. Try doing some form of asana every day. Fifteen minutes of sun salutations in the morning and 10 minutes of moon salutations in the evening are a great way to find daily practice. If you regularly practice, commit to a full practice 5-7 days of the week with 1-2 of those as a personal home practice.
Commit to “clean eating”. Be conscious of the food that fuels your body. Avoid processed foods, preservatives, high fructose corn syrup and added chemicals. If you don't know what is listed on the label, you probably don't want it in your body. Eliminate caffeine, alcohol, fried foods, sweets, table salt and soda. Consider reducing or removing the animal proteins in your diet and increasing the amounts of fruits and vegetables. (A great an easy reference for being more conscious about your food sources is “Food Rules” by Michael Pollan. There are tidbits for every eater – omnivores to vegans.)
Rejuvenate your spirit. Pinpoint one thing that is a drain on your energy or spirit and make a change. Meditate, journal, sing, spend time with loved ones or dedicate time to a cause that is important to you. Plan a date night or family game night. Reduce or eliminate your use of tv and electronics.
Avoid drugs. Take nothing illegal and avoid over the counter medications if possible. This includes pain medications and cold remedies. (If you are under the care of a physician, please consult them first.) Try alternate methods to alleviate discomfort like relaxation, meditation, cold compress, etc.
Set 3 to 5 goals for yourself. Make a commitment to make a change. Set at least one goal for your mind, body and spirit. Some examples:
- Mind – Learn something new. Attend a cooking class or geneology workshop. Take a different style of yoga (ashtanga, Bikram, yin, etc.) Read a book on mudras.
- Body – Set a goal to advance a specific asana (i.e. press up to wheel/urdhva danurasana or float to caturanga from bakasana). If you are over or under weight make a plan to make a change. Engage in positive body-image self-talk.
- Spirit – Purge your closets and drawers and donate. Drive without road rage. Meditate or pray daily.
Infractions – No one is perfect and you may fall off the wagon a time or two. Don't let that derail you. If you misstep, cheat or lose your way, consider offering up 20 caturanga push-ups, navasana sit-ups or donation to get you back on track.
I hope you join me on this Winter Yoga Renewal. Be sure to let me know how your are doing throughout the month. By the way, the best chocolate cake I ever had was in February, a couple of years ago, just after a month of Kangeiko!