Monday, November 18, 2013

Holistic Wellness

During my early training on how to teach yoga, I learned something interesting: some people think only in terms of negative. I don't mean that they are negative people; rather, that the lens of their mind's eye only sees things in terms of negative. This lens might have developed out of a self-preservation situation, or some other natural occurrence. However it grew, the mind can only frame experiences in terms of the negative. For example, if I ask someone who has lived with chronic pain all their life to paint me a picture of what a good day looks like, they may give me answers such as, "less resistance to movement" rather than "more mobility", or "less fatigue" rather than "more energy". It's a subtle language difference but the way the mind, body and energy process this subtle difference is big.

I'm a fan of language. I'm always looking for better ways to say things, using clearer analogies and more precise cues. I can be a bit obsessive when it comes to naming my classes and workshops. I've been obsessing for several years now about a certain title for the cancer work that I do. I'm always looking to find the best way to describe my work without using this negative frame.

The word wellness is one of my favorites, because it goes beyond the negative and brings us back to the positive. What would a day be like without pain, or illness, or fear or stress? How would I name that day? Wellness encompasses so much, just like yoga. There is physical wellness, but there is also mental, emotional and spiritual wellness.

Wellness implies that good feeling that you get when the sun is shining on your face, the warmth in your heart rises up to meet the warmth on your face, you are smiling without regard to who is watching and time stands still. 

Photo from
In the winter months, we are more vulnerable to this negative thinking. There is less sunlight and more stress to contend with. Our normal healthy routines are replaced with the hustle-and-bustle-type of holiday activities. Social situations are required, which can be draining for the introverted types. It's important during these times that we understand what our own personal wellness requires and fit that in as a priority today - not tomorrow.

Asana, meditation, breathing practices, exercise, massage and regular sleep can make such a difference during this season. What supports your wellness? Make a wellness plan today.