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A Yoga Advent

palm tree wrapped in Christmas lights illustrating yoga advent or the 12 dyas of Christmas yoga

This yoga advent series originally appeared as a daily prompt on Facebook. They are collected here for non-Facebook users and anyone who’d like to use them as a body of work.

While the yoga sutras can help you keep your holiday stress level down, they’re meant to be used all year. Yoga advent isn’t just for Christmas time. Move these ideas forward into your New Year’s resolutions and spring journal entries to keep your practice grounded in the background of yoga.

Yoga Sutra 1.1 – Yoga is now

clock floating underwater to illustrate yoga sutra 1.1 as the first day of yoga advent

Every moment is a yoga moment. Yoga is now, and now, and NOW.
You can use that during the holidays when you’re feeling a little bit harried. Take a pause and check-in.
Take one breath.
Make it a yoga moment…
And let the rest go.

Yoga sutra 1.2 – Yoga is the uniting of consciousness in the heart.

yoga sutra 1.2

Like the saying about “The reason for the season,” this is one of the deeper reasons to practice yoga. You probably don’t practice yoga because you love Cow Face pose. You practice because of how it makes you feel, superficially and deep down.
Just like getting at the real reason to celebrate the holidays, what’s the deeper meaning of yoga for you?

How does yoga connect you with your heart?

Yoga sutra 1.3 – United in the heart, consciousness is steadied, then we abide in our true nature.

flamingo floaty on the ocean illustrating yoga sutra 1.3 for yoga advent

When your consciousness is churning around like choppy seas you’re all over the place. Your thoughts are going by 90 miles an hour and it’s hard to focus. You feel amped up but you can’t get anything done.

It takes a moment of awareness to come back into yourself. Ask that question of yourself, “What’s really important to me right now?” Let all the other voices go and focus on what your heart is telling you. When you can hear that true inner voice loud and clear, you’re connecting your heart with your consciousness.

Reach out and grab what your heart is telling you like your life preserver. Staying steadily focused on that, connecting your heart to your thoughts, will get you where you want to go during the holidays and all year.

A Yoga Advent Day 4 with Yoga sutra 1.4 – At other times we identify with the rays of consciousness which fluctuate and encourage our perceived suffering.

part of an amusement park ride illustrating yoga sutra 1.4

Your busy beautiful brain is always thinking 🧠
Thinking is its job and it’s good at it. When you’re writing your next masterpiece, that’s great, but sometimes you get stuck in thought streams that don’t really serve you.

How many times have you laid awake during the holidays stuck in a loop about conversations that MIGHT happen if: you were to call a certain person, or if specific relations sat next to each other during an event, or how a certain gift might be interpreted. None of these conversations actually took place, it’s just your brain making your life harder.

Try to soften those pretend conversations and focus on things you know to be true. Your heart is beautiful and kind💖 That’s more than enough to dwell on.

Yoga sutra 1.5 – Dividing into 5, these rays of consciousness polarize as pleasant or unpleasant.

This sutra’s easy to understand. You know when you’re thinking about things that are great vs. suck.
How do your piles stack up?

Yoga Sutra 1.6 – The rays manifest as knowledge, misunderstanding, imagination, deep sleep and memory.

The rays are how our consciousness gets divided up.
Knowledge is those things we are truly wise about.
Misunderstanding is practically everything.
Imagination is all that time your consciousness spends wandering around.
Deep sleep is so nice, and we should all spend more time there.
Memory is what our consciousness tells us about the past.

Yoga sutra 1.7 – Knowledge embraces personal experience, inference and insights from the wise.

lily pad illustrating yoga sutra 1.7 for yoga advent

Knowledge is hard-won. Personal experience means time and failure has gone in. Inference is tricky. 2 + 2 always equals 4 but people aren’t math equations and the wise aren’t always around when you need them

I like the word embrace in this sutra. Embrace that you’re doing the best you can with the knowledge you have at this moment. Embrace that this is true for others as well. We are all grounded in the mud of our ignorance, trying to rise up and be beautiful flowers.

Having an attitude that embraces grace for yourself and others will make this holiday and all the ones to come easier.

Yoga advent day 8 with Yoga sutra 1.8 – Misunderstanding comes when perception is unclear or tinted.

So basically, misunderstanding happens all the time. We barely understand our own perceptions and perspective and then have to interact with others who’s thought processes are a mystery.

If we want to try for any clarity, we have to learn to get curious. Curious about own thoughts and actions, and about those of others. We need to ask good questions of ourselves and others. Clarity comes from the answers to those questions.

Before your imagination runs wild (tomorrow’s sutra) apply yesterday’s sutra, and interact.

Yoga sutra 1.9 – Imagination is kindled by hearing words, seeing images or experiencing feelings.

Basically, if you’re alive you have an imagination. It serves you well by allowing you to create beautiful things. It also hijacks you when it makes up negative stuff.

Your imagination is what you use to create stories about everything that happens to you, and what you engage with around you. Your imaginary conversations when you overhear snippets in the grocery store. Your dream tropical vacations when you see those travel ads or the rabbit hole of what if’s when things don’t go your way.

The best thing about your imagination is it’s your imagination. You get to decide what you want to imagine and what you don’t. You’re the captain of the ship after all. This holiday season how can you make your imaginary stories serve you?

Yoga sutra 1.10 – Deep sleep allows us to withdraw from conscious awareness.

This isn’t just about yoga. Who doesn’t want a good night’s sleep? It gets harder during the holidays with the social engagements, drinking, big meals and general sense of overwhelm. What’s one thing you can do tonight to get a good night’s sleep?
Ideas to get you started:
– Unplug from the device early
– Drink a warm beverage
– Go to a restorative yoga class
– Change your sheets, fluff all your pillows, put a little mint on your pillow to savor your space

Yoga sutra 1.11 – Memory is when a previous experience returns to conscious awareness.

Turning any memory into a yoga memory is connecting with your felt sense of self. Take a moment and think of your favorite holiday memory. Go beyond remembering the conversation, remember how it felt to be in that moment. What were the smells and sounds around you?
What did it feel like in your body at that moment?
Can you recreate the beauty of how it felt to be in that moment, at this moment?

Last day of yoga advent – putting all these ideas together


More Yoga Ideas for the Holidays


If you liked this dive into yoga philosophy and want resources you can use all year, buy my book on applying these principles to your aqua yoga practice.


palm tree wrapped in Christmas lights illustrating yoga advent

christa

I'm a yoga teacher who specializes in making yoga accessible in the pool and on land. I also train and coach other yoga and aquatics professionals in aqua yoga. My teaching style is engaging, responsive, and fun. 

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