Teacher Feature – Hilary Wentz

For many of us, including myself, September through December is the busiest time of the year. It is also the time of the year that I tend to fall out of my routine. With the holiday season approaching, it can be difficult to juggle work/professional demands along with family/friend obligations. However, this remains the most important time of the year to practice yoga. It’s typically much more challenging to have a consistent yoga practice during this time. However, while we may miss a yoga class here and there during this time, there are many other ways we can continue to practice yoga. As a reluctant type A, I like to remind myself of a few things during this time. After all, who wants to add more stress to an already stressful time of the year?

1. Regarding our yoga practice, consistency is more important than amount of time. When I’m reminded of this, it often brings about a sigh of relief! Being able to take a yoga class is certainly a luxurious treat and when incorporated, often the best time of the day. However, if we cannot carve out enough time in the day for a class, we can schedule in a little pocket of time (5, 10 or 15 minutes) to practice yoga on our mats at home. When I know my day will be busy and demanding, I often wake up a few minutes early and go straight to my mat. It’s amazing how uttanasana (standing forward fold) can melt away stress and bring about a calm awareness to the body. Also, after practicing headstand, your body will feel energized much like that morning cup of coffee. Never underestimate the power of just a few poses on your mat!

2. Pranayama (breath) is very important! This is often the time of the year that my breath feels a bit shallow. To counter that feeling, I try to check in with myself throughout the day to tune into my breath. Even if it’s just for 5 breaths. Much like in our yoga classes when we’re reminded to reconnect to our breath, we can check in throughout the day to make sure we’re breathing fully and completely. My 2 favorite breaths are dirga pranayama (3 part yogic breath) and nadi sodhana (alternate nostril breathing). Alternate nostril breathing is unique in that it creates a balance between the left and the right sides of our brain. Breathing through the right nostril activates the left side of the brain, and vice versa. I often use this breath when I’m feeling anxious or stressed. Within a few minutes, that feeling is dissolved and the stress seems to magically melt away!

3. Yamas and Niyamas play an active role this time of year. As some of us already know, there are, in fact, eight limbs of yoga. Asana (yoga postures) and Pranayama are just two of them. Yamas and Niyamas are two more limbs, and they are often known as the moral codes of yoga. Bringing awareness to these yamas and niyamas is extremely important in our practice of yoga, and what a fitting time of the year to start practicing them in our daily lives!

Yamas:
a. Ahimsa: non-violence
b. Satya: truthfulness
c. Asteya: non-stealing
d. Bramacharya: moderation
e. Aparigraha: non-possessiveness

Niyamas:
a. Saucha: cleanliness, purity
b. Santosha: contentment
c. Svadhyaya: self-study
d. Tapas: austerity
e. Isvarapranidhana: surrender

I hope that, through our practice of yoga, we can use these tools to carry us through the most magical time of the year!
I wish everyone a joyful and tranquil ending to another year!

Namaste,
Hilary

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