I’ve kept a journal for as long as I can remember. Over the years, my journalsÂ have held many ridiculous imaginings, fuelled some wild daydreams, and served as a place to sort throughÂ my problems (big and small). My journal is the place where I cannot hide from my thoughts or feelings. It is whereÂ my deepest truths fall out, even the ones that I’mÂ most afraid of facing. The act of writing gives me perspective, and allows me a space to explore both the most mundane and the most intense experiences.
But I have another journal of a different kind: my yoga mat. Each time I step onto the mat, my body tells a story. I become awareÂ of sensations in my muscles and joints that I may not notice (or choose to ignore!)Â during the rhythm of a typical day. It’s easy to travelÂ through our dailyÂ schedules without paying attention toÂ the effect each movement has onÂ theÂ physical body, not to mention the emotions we hold within. I can ignore a slight pain in the hip, some stiffness in the neck, or a nagging tug at the hamstrings as I go from one activity to another. But on the mat, as I begin to focusÂ on my breath, and the framework of the postures, I can’t avoid feeling imbalances or tensions that have arisen in my body.Â And as I move through my yoga practice, I can consciously work towards bringing my physical (and mental) self back into, or closer to, alignment.
The days when I least feel like rolling out my mat are often the days when I need my yoga practice the most. Just as my journal provides a place where I can sift through my thoughtsÂ and let the page hold them in plain view,Â my yoga matÂ is the space where IÂ can sort through what my body needs at any given time.
Do you use your yoga mat as your physical journal? What story does your body tell?
Iâ€™m a fan of any celebration of love, so Iâ€™m a natural lover of Valentineâ€™s Day. Sure, I adore flowers and always welcome romantic dinners, but there are many ways to celebrate love that donâ€™t involve chocolates, overpriced meals or more â€śstuffâ€ť to fill the house with. My favourite moments cost very little and are ultimately more meaningful in the long-term.Â Instead of going the typical consumer route, why not try out one (or all) of these simple and free gifts this year for your partner and/or your kids.
1. Be Present
Guaranteed to be the best free gift you can give to your partner (and/or kids.) Put your smartphone/computer/tablets away for a solid chunk of time and let themÂ have your full and undivided attention. Spend less time talking and more time truly listening.
2. Write a love letter
There are many things we appreciate and love about our partners and our kids that they might not hear us say on a daily basis. Sitting down to physically write our expressions of love for someone benefits not only the one receiving the letter, but makes the person writing it feel good also.
3. Get Outside and Be Active Together
Plan a family activity (or couples activity) outdoors. Being active as a family or with your partner is a wonderful way to spend time together away from the usual stressors of household chores/to-do lists. Time in nature is also a proven mood-booster.
4. Make Your Favourite Meal Together
Whether youâ€™re planning a candlelit dinner with your partner after the kids are in bed, or a family celebration, conversation over tasty food is always a good way to connect with each other. Pick your favourite dishes and chef up a yummy meal that you can savour together. (And leave the dishes for later.)
5. Extra Hugs and cuddles
Whether weâ€™re five or fifty-five, the importance of touch and physical intimacy is undeniable. Some of us are natural huggers and others have to make a concerted effort to increase our physical contact. Regardless of your nature, by ensuring lots of hugs and cuddles this Valentines Day, youâ€™re bound to spread a whole lot of extra love. And who can deny that love is a good thing?