I have to believe that Old Man Winter was a yogi at one time. There are so many things a good, hearty winter (not to mention polar vortex) teaches us about mindfulness, awareness, and peace. Here are just a few:
Be Resilient: Once a winter we get a heavy, wet snow in Minnesota, the kind that drifts into you with its beauty and makes you pause at the window. These snowfalls are lovely but hard on the birch outside my bedroom window. Its snow-laden branches bow and bend, and every year I worry that the birch’s arms will smash through the window and clasp me in its icy fingers. It hasn’t happened yet. So I look at the birch in its frosty Downward Facing Dog and remember that being stiff and inflexible seldom helps us in times of adversity.
Slow down: There is no way I can speed walk in my snow shoes. I trudge and waddle and try not to look like a clown.
Be patient: Anyone who has tried to navigate ice in winter knows impatience will only be your downfall. Winter’s walk is a shuffle, sliding the foot forward, staying in contact with the earth, being truly grounded.
Open your heart: In Minnesota, we help our neighbors. I don’t know if this is where the term “Minnesota Nice” came from, but there is an unwritten code here that we help each other. After all, who knows? We may be the next one stuck in a ditch.
Enjoy solitude: Solitude is good for us. Being snowed in with only the sounds of the snowplows to keep you company is a time to come to peace with the quiet in you. And we all have that quiet inside us. Sitting with all the technology silent is like being swaddled in snow (without that whole frostbite problem).
Remember that love is all around us: In winter, I like to watch the Eaglecam in St. Paul, where an eagle couple is stubbornly sitting on their eggs, no matter the cold, wind, and coating of snowflakes on their nest and feathers. Some years, the eggs freeze. Some years, they survive. Each year, though, Mr. and Mrs. Eagle are determined to keep the eggs warm, to bring new life into the world. Parents come in all shapes and sizes and species, and when you see this kind of love, you realize how much we share.
When Old Man Winter steps onto his yoga mat, stay open to to what is being taught. And be careful where you step.
For some warm experiences on the mat and chilly ones off it, cozy up with a copy of Down Dog Diary.