Closing a chapter on a year brings reflection. How was this year for us and what does that really mean? What are we measuring: how we felt, how we maintained our relationships, how we look, how successful we were in achieving our goals? There are a never ending set of metrics to live up to or fall short of and the end of year can leave us feeling in need of replenishment. It's also a time we can choose to nourish compassion for ourselves, strength for the year to come and space for experiences that will fill us up.
We've curated an intimate practice for you to do just that.
Take some time and find somewhere quiet and comfortable, light a favourite candle or some palo santo.
Begin in a comfortable cross legged position, you can sit on a pillow or a rolled up blanket for extra comfort. Bring your right hand to the top of your head and gently tilt your head to the right, feeling as if your right ear might touch your shoulder. Keep your shoulders down and relaxed and only go as far as feels good. Repeat on the left side.
This is all about releasing stress and tension, our jaw, neck and shoulders are storage spaces for these feelings. Just a few gentle breaths to stretch and release helps melt them away.
Now that we've released our neck, our shoulders can open and release burdens we've been carrying throughout the year. On an inhale raise your arms up above your head. Keep your seat firmly grounded and feel your torso long and strong to hold this pose safely. While raising our arms above our head seems basic, we consider it a fundamental move. If you're thinking of nailing a handstand or some other inversion next year, this simple pose is key. Play with turning your palms towards each other or facing frontwards to feel different releases. You can keep your head level or raise your gaze to your hands.
This pose is all about being open, feeling strong, confident and ready. The smallest of actions done with thoughtfulness can leave a trace of permanence on our goals and wishes for the year to come.
You can test this sense of strength and openness by coming into a lunge. From standing, bend your knees and bring your hands to the floor. Step your left leg back and keep your front right leg bent at 90 degrees, your knee over your ankle. Take an exhale to settle yourself, and on an inhale bring yourself into a standing lunge. Again settle with an exhale and on an inhale bring your arms overhead. As before, root down into the ground and keep your torso strong and long. Your shoulders are down and away from your ears, your neck comfortable. You can keep your hands together or bring them shoulder width apart, whatever feels best today.
Strength and openness are a balance we are working towards, feel patience with the little wobbles, but know you are building a strong foundation for yourself and for the year ahead.
Our newly released, Namaste Yoga: The Complete Fourth Season incorporates lots of great lunge variations for you to work on in your practice.
From here, you can bring your left hand down to the floor and on an exhale open your body up to twist towards to the right. Your right arm can extend so you can feel a deep side stretch.
Gently spinal twists like this strengthen your abdominals and your spinal extensors. Being able to move in all directions give you freedom of movement without pain or rigidity.
As a peak pose we will introduce one of our favourite movements from our brand new Movement Fundamentals Program, pistol squat. If we were going to choose only five exercises to do for the rest of our life, pistol squat would be one of them. It’s truly a full lower body workout. This one movement tests your ankle mobility, quadricep and glute strength, and balance and coordination, and you can easily practice it anywhere, any time. It tests all the attributes you need for the coming year and challenges you to go outside your comfort zone.
Shift your body weight into your right leg. Lift your left foot until you’re just on your tippy-toes of that foot. Aim to keep your left foot very lightly touching the ground and focus on activating your right glute. Come into a squat, then rise back up to stand.
Eventually you will progress to the full pose. With practice anything is possible.
It never has to be perfect. If you fell, wobbled or felt stiff today, the best cure is to laugh it off, because we've all felt that way. The very fact that you took this time to practice is a conscious choice that is a start to a whole new chapter.
The Namaste Team.
Amanda Riches, Director of Namaste TV and Gabriela Schonbach, Executive Producer of Namaste TV and mother and daughter.
Camillia Lee, Brand Manager of Namaste TV and Amanda Riches, Director of Namaste TV and best friends.