Health and Happiness in the New Year

Happy new year, everyone! I’ve been sick this past week. Yup, this is a big admission for a yoga instructor, as we’re supposed to be the harbingers of health. Although I would’ve preferred to celebrate the holidays otherwise, instead of lying in bed drinking endless cups of hot water (with lemon!) and blowing my nose, it’s been a surprisingly deep practice.

Like most of us, I find it hard to avoid layering self-pity, blame, anger, frustration, fear, disappointment, and other difficult emotions on top of the illness. The illness is illness; the layer of reactivity is suffering. And finding ways to stay connected with the body even when it’s uncomfortable and can’t breathe well, that’s challenging too. There were times when I just cried from the frustration and loneliness of being ill when it seemed that everyone else was out celebrating with friends and family. Even knowing that’s a false belief, too. The holiday season is fraught and lonely for many of us and for many reasons, including illness and loss.

I drifted for many long hours, mixing sleep, yoga nidra, and mindful body scans. Yoga asana also has helped me recover, starting with a few slow yin poses in the bed; and then, after a few days, moving into restorative poses; and now, engaging a gentle movement practice. Incredible how subtle the poses become in stillness, as on a retreat. With yoga, my energy moved; the congestion moved out. And even though it still sucks to feel so weak right now, it’s amazing how good it feels to do a simple stretch or to breathe through both nostrils. With mindfulness — that this is what’s happening now — even illness can be a harbinger of health.

So I wish everyone a healthy and happy new year filled with the companionship of loved ones, family and friends. Remembering together that every connection counts, to nourish our dreams and replenish our energy, and to let the sun into our hearts as the days now lengthen toward spring.



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