I hope this email finds you well. And if it does not, I hope you can find some support in it.
We are approaching the darkest day of the year – at least here in the Northern hemisphere. Christmas and New Year’s are around the corner, but before them comes the winter solstice on Dec 21st.
“Jul” is the Danish word for Christmas, and actually comes from the pre-Christian, pagan and Viking time. “Jul” then was not the celebration of Christ’s birth but that of the mid-winter day (similar to the English word “Yule”, although the right etymology apparently is still debated).
What Jul/Yule has to do with yoga, you might ask?
For many of us, Christian or not, Christmas has become a time of family gathering, exchanging presents, and… (quite) excessive eating and drinking, ah! Whether one thinks about the solstice on Dec 21st or not, both occasions are an opportunity to bring light to the darkest time of the year through festivities.
Yoga means union, including the togetherness of darkness and light. Sadly, I also know that for many of us Christmas can be stressful, not only if complicated family dynamics are in place but also due to a social pressure of obligated “hygge” (also a Danish word) – a sort of happiness on demand, if you will.
If that resonates with you, take a sigh out. You are not alone.
Whether you are genuinely looking forward to Christmas, are secretly apprehending it, or are feeling indifferent, it is an invitation to include the dark as part of the light.
This does not have to mean bringing our deepest shadows onto the dinner table, but perhaps simply being honest about our triggers and challenges, and not repress or try to suppress them.
This time of the year is indeed an opportunity to welcome the darkness, whatever its form – experiencing a challenge in a relationship, pain, overwhelm, grief, anger, or sadness… – and its degree – a little or a lot.
Sometimes, I find that welcoming darkness does not need to be very big all the time. It might be taking 15 min to breathe, write, and simply acknowledge what we are feeling, instead of going directly to the persons who are involved and triggering us.
To the question: “What do you do when you are too busy to meditate?”, Gandhi answered: “I meditate twice as much.” I personally know it too well. Too busy to take care of myself, so many to-dos… Well, it does not go very long for me anymore – luckily.
And I have noticed that just a little space can do wonder… and magic.
As I grew up, I also got to know Christmas as a magic time. Suddenly, the coffee and biscuits we had put in front of the firepit the evening before had disappeared in the morning, and there were presents under the tree. We could set the little Jesus figurine in its crib and wait for the three Kings to arrive on Jan 6th. The days started to become longer and longer…
The innocent magic of Christmas does not need to disappear with childhood. Including the dark brings the light, as the solstice teaches us.
The magic continues passed Christmas, as the new year arrives. A new year, a new beginning. Again here, I see a connection to yoga in the following teaching.
A couple of millennia ago, Yoga was designed as a practice that trains the mind in opening up… especially, to the unknown.
The unknown is not only about the dark, shadowy sides of us.
Perhaps to a greater extent, the unknown also includes the infinite potential of pure joy, deep peace, and endless bliss ahead of us – and actually most likely already hidden somewhere in us.
Magic then, is simply what happens when we are willing to let go of our need to know and instead open to the unknown.
I hope you can remember this magic this year. Because it has NOT forgotten you.
In the following, you can read more about a couple of exciting and perhaps magical events coming up… along with some shoots from my magical bike ride through the frozen seafront an early December morning 😉
Here in short:
*** NEW YEAR’S RETREAT:
“YOGA, MEDITATION, and SELF-CARE” (DEC 29- JAN 1) ONLY 3 SPOTS LEFT!
*** YOGA & MEDITATION ONLINE COURSE (in Danish)
“MÆRK DIN KERNE“
DONATION-BASED – OFFER PRESENCE AS A GIFT
*** ARM BALANCE & INVERSION WORKSHOP
“RISING UP” (JAN 7, 1PM – 4PM)
*** 200-hour TEACHER TRAINING & IN-DEPTH STUDY
A LIFE-CHANGING ADVENTURE! (MAY 19 to Nov 6, 2023)
I wish you a peaceful, happy, and magical Christmas, holiday time and new year.