Awake to the power within

19th December 2003 at 00:00
Roxanne Clark offers more energising advice to help you enjoy the festive season

Are you feeling festive, or more bah humbug? It can be difficult to be celebratory when the term's just crawled to a finish, you're feeling flat and exhausted and you still have Christmas shopping, crowds and the cold weather to cope with.

Winter is traditionally a time for turning within and being reflective. The desire to hibernate is not just part of the winter blues, but a biological urge designed to slow down and rejuvenate inner resources. Use the traditional rituals of the season to your advantage and do more than simply survive the two weeks of manic celebration. With a little planning, you can make it a time of meaning and feel refreshed rather than flattened.

As Christmas approaches, so does the winter solstice, a time of reflection followed by regeneration and renewal in the northern hemisphere. Historical rituals around the shortest day of the year, December 22, include the strengthening of bonds with family and friends, gift-giving and feasting.

To be able to give, you have to have the resources - and I don't mean money, but rather the deep inner resources that educators constantly find within themselves. But forget to recharge, and you'll burn out. Here's a seasonal exercise to help you pause, reflect and rejuvenate, and bring the spirit of celebration back into Christmas.

It takes about 10 to 15 minutes a day and will leave you feeling refreshed, energised, and better able to cope with and enjoy the festivities.

Find a quiet room. Light a candle and turn off the light. Lie down on the floor or bed, placing a pillow under your knees and making sure you are warm.

Focus on the glowing light of the candle and your breathing for a few minutes, then close your eyes. Inhale deeply through your nose, as if your head is a balloon inflating and exhale through your mouth, as if you are deflating, letting go completely. Do this twice.

Hold your next breath tensing and clenching all the muscles in your body from head to toe. Exhale and relax, letting go of any tension. Once again, do this twice. Keep your eyes closed and bring your breath back to normal.

Inhaling, imagine the colour red flowing into your body, filling you with strength and vitality. As you exhale feel these qualities flow throughout you.

Next, focus on green and the qualities of balance, harmony and sympathy flowing through you as you inhale and exhale.

Finally, inhale pure white light, clarity, wellbeing and joy into yourself, feeling it flow through you as you exhale. Do the exercise for each colour twice.

Slowly open your eyes and notice the quality of light in the room. Enjoy the seasonal colours and qualities flowing through all your festive celebrations.

Roxanne Clark teaches Pilates, yoga and holistic stress management in business, adult education and schools. Contact: yogawithatwist@yahoo.co.uk

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