Ebeneezer Scrooge learnt the hard way, but now we know that generosity is good for us! Studies show that handing out Christmas treats wrapped in cheerful paper, taking tins to the local food bank, or helping out at charity events makes us feel happier and supports our overall health and wellbeing.
The winter season in general tends to bring about a big burst of generosity, with other activities we might not immediately label as ‘giving’, such as nursing a poorly relative, supporting a friend through a challenging period, or even helping out with a problem at work, often peaking as the Christmas season gets underway.
For many, this means a huge out-pouring of energy and effort all at once. Whilst undoubtedly beneficial to both the giver and receiver on a number of levels, it is important that those on the giving side don’t over-do things and end up depleted. Remembering to apply the ‘yamas’ of kindness (ahimsa) and truthfulness (satya) set out in Pantanjali’s Yoga sutra is especially important this time of year.
But how do we go about this? Jon Kabat-Zin, in his book ‘Wherever you go, there you are’ suggests giving ourselves gifts that will enhance our mental and physical health every single day (not just at Christmas!). Rather than a box of chocolates or a new jumper, he recommends we give ourselves the simple luxury of some quiet time. I know that if you are a carer, or someone with young children, this might seem like very tall ask, but even five minutes will do!
It’s important to use this time to tune in with your body, breath, energy and mental state and ask yourself how you really are, so you can act from a place that honours your own needs as well as those around you. We all know the saying ‘You can’t help others if you don’t help yourself first.’
If this kind of gift sounds appealing to you, then I have two spaces left on the next day retreat on Saturday 26th January. This will take place in a beautiful centre in the historic riverside town of Henley on Thames, just one hour by train from central London. We will enjoy two extended yoga practices to energise, open and deeply rest the body and mind, a warming lunch from an award winning local caterer, homemade cake and a walk around the historical town centre. The day costs £68. Do let me know if you would like one of the two remaining spaces!
If that doesn’t work for you, I will be teaching a number of extra general/slow flow classes at the Life Centre in Islington on Wednesdays and Fridays over the next few months. Do let me know if you’d like more information.
With very best wishes for Christmas and New Year,