Yesterday my online yoga teacher Gillie had us channelling a bear during our half hour morning class. (I know, bear with me!) Gillie’s sessions are inspired by nature and the elements and she asked us to imagine we were in a cosy den with a fire burning and that our bodies were soft like marshmallows. What a delicious image! Of course I imagined I was in a cosy yurt with the wood-burner going, sheepskin rugs on the floor and twinkly lights all around, nestled beneath the dark night sky. Gillie's class incorporated self-bear hugs (or hugging a cuddly toy), rolling around like a bear on the floor, bear crawling and slowing down - did you know that during hibernation bear's reduce their breathing rate to just once every 45 seconds! How cool is that?!
After the class Gillie shared an online quiz to find your spirit animal and serendipitously mine came out as the bear. Symbolic of strength and confidence, standing against adversity, healing, solitude, quiet and rest all of which sounds great right now and ties in with my intentions of grounding, hibernating and conserving my energy at the moment.
Today is a new moon. It's a great time to set new intentions for the year if you’ve not done so already or to start over if you’ve stumbled. Apparently yesterday (12th January) was the day most people fail at their New Year's Resolutions. I wonder if it occurs to many of them that maybe their resolutions were unrealistic in the first place and they had set themselves up for failure and the sense of self loathing that comes with it.
I used to fall into that trap myself but no longer do I resolve to start a punishing exercise regime or begin an ultra-healthy but unattractive diet in January. Instead I choose to be kind to myself and nourish my body and soul during these months which even in an ordinary year can be dark and depressing. It's OK to hibernate, it's only natural in the Winter months.
One thing that has really helped me so far this January is Gillie’s online Lighten Up 21 yoga programme. The goal is 21 sessions in 28 days so it doesn’t matter if you don’t feel like it one day or if life gets in the way. The weekday morning sessions are great, just half an hour between 8am and 8.30am which fits exactly where the school run would have ordinarily been (hooray, a positive of lockdown!). And it's not all about bears, in fact every class is different which is brilliant. This morning's was about courage.
I will endeavour to do her hygge (cosy) yoga at 6.30pm this evening (think blankets, cocoa, candles and a bit of gentle mindful movement). Soma dance is also wonderful - so liberating, you will feel like a goddess both during and after. Plus Gillie has two two-hour workshops coming up in January too if you want to treat yourself. Details below, click on the image to visit her website.
Another great resource if you want some help to set your intentions for the year ahead (it's not too late!) is life coach Caroline Richardson's online Winter Wellbeing course in which she provides videos and worksheets to guide you through the process of visualising a positive 2021. She has also set up a free group on Facebook called Journal Through January where she provides a different journal prompt each morning.
Journalling is another habit that is great to cultivate. Get anything that is worrying or annoying you out of your head and onto paper, it's cathartic and will help provide clarity. Journalling is also a great way to acknowledge the positive and give gratitude for things that are good in your life. Try to find at least one thing you are grateful for each day and write it down.
Whatever you do try to stay positive and remember it's OK to hibernate at this time of year. Be more bear.
Katie is one of the owners of Blackdown Yurts and likes to write about things going on at and around her beautiful glamping site