We are entering the darkest weeks of the year, the time when the sun transitions from its journey to the north and begins to head back to the south again (or at least, that is how it appears to us.)
Transitions often bring with them a set of challenges and opportunities. We know this from our own lives. When we change jobs, homes, relationships, even seasons, we can feel the swirl of both excitement and fear propelling us in various directions. If we don’t have steadiness, if we are not grounded, then the swirl can whip us around into whirlwind, making us feel uncertain and even a little bit freaked out.
Ayurveda recognizes this phenomenon. During the two biggest transitions of the year, the two weeks prior and following the winter and summer solstices, the prevailing wisdom suggests we rest, get still and do A LOT of practice.
For most of us, holiday gatherings and our regular life responsibilities make intensive week-long meditations almost impossible. But a good yoga practices -- one that cultivate steadiness and ease -- can go a long way in creating the stability we need for transitions.
A yoga practice usually cultivates one of three main energies -- Brahmana techniques expand our energy, Samana techniques center our energy, and Langhana techniques ground our energy. Utilizing Langhana techniques will keep us in our center, both through the solstices as well as during any life transition.
Langhana techniques include things like forward folds, longer holds, and a specific kind of breathing pattern, breath retention, and bundha awareness. Used together they leave the practitioner feeling a lot like Quan Yin -- centered, still and compassionate – even as she rides a powerful dragon-- a dragon that dips, dives and swirls (a lot like life, really.)
Cultivating stability and steadiness through practice, we too may end up wearing her graceful and easeful expression. We too may embody her qualities of trust, courage and faith. It may takes practice, but at least we will have the tools to get there.