Updated: Jan 29
Having been fortunate enough to dodge the British winter last year, I sort of forgot how much the seasons of the year (or, more specifically, the winter season) affect my yoga practice. I have always been solar powered - I am a summer solstice baby after all - and I have infinitely more motivation in the summer months. Now that we are in the depths of winter, motivation levels are pretty low, and I have been reminded of the ebbs and flows of practice directed by nature.
I once read a post that said winter is about maintenance, not progression, and it really stuck with me. It was written about ashtanga backbends, but actually it is true for practice in general, and indeed many areas of life. Practice (and life) is non-linear: we can't expect to be constantly pushing and 'progressing'. Winter is typically a time of hibernation, rest, and nourishment. Feeling that we constantly have to be doing and achieving only increases expectations of ourselves, and, more importantly, is just not how nature works. We are not robots: we are sensitive to changes in the seasons, the moon and all sorts of other things going on in our personal lives, and it makes much more sense to lean into these fluctuations rather than resist them.
My practice is definitely in winter maintenance mode, and it usually is at this time of year. I haven't had any breakthroughs for a long time, I'm less motivated to practice (and to share my practice), and I'm feeling less energetic when I do. Accepting this as maintenance mode makes it much easier, as I don't have any pressures on myself to achieve or progress: I simply have to keep ticking over. I have been joining more classes and practising with friends since I'm lacking motivation to practise solo, and actually, without the expectation of any breakthroughs or mad achievements, all practices are enough.
This holds true throughout the year, not just for winter. There are times when you might want to focus on your yoga, whether that is building in a regular practice, reading books, or working on a struggle pose. But there are times when other areas of your life are a priority and require more of your energy and focus. I personally find that my yoga practice is in a constant state of ebb and flow: some weeks it is my priority and I devote myself to it fully; other weeks it fades into maintenance mode while I focus on other areas of life.
If your practice has moved into maintenance mode, or is hibernating altogether, remember that this is how nature works. It is all part of the practice. Accept whatever your practice is for now, maintain it if you can, and know that you can bring it back into full focus when the time is right.
Flowers don't bloom all year round, and neither do we.