I have been mulling over what to say about yoga with a Christmas theme. I had ideas of talking about coping with the stress of Christmas with yoga, or coping with the Christmas heat wave with yoga, or hot tips for yoga gifts, or even what to do if we eat too much! But ended up deciding on the very important topic of how yoga can help us with the open hearted Christmas spirit of peace and goodwill.
Throughout history mankind has suffered from narrow minded bigotry and prejudice and the present time is no exception. People are side lined because of their religious beliefs, their physical appearance, their political affiliation, their material possessions or lack of them… so many ways we look down on others even hate and kill others on these grounds. It is said that anger and hatred does the most damage to the person that feels it. A closed-up twisted heart and mind is hard to penetrate but at the very least what we can do is prevent ourselves from going down that track.
By encouraging good qualities our negative propensities will fade away. What better time to encourage these good qualities than during our asana practice. Many yoga poses will help us to remember all the qualities we are hopefully striving to have. One of the best ways to live peacefully with others is through tolerance and compassion.
In the yoga teachings a tree is given as the perfect example of tolerance. A tree silently bears the scorching sun, the torrential rain and the gale force winds. The tree like a compassionate person gives shelter to all sorts of creatures big and small, provides wind protection for houses, shade for picnickers, and cleans the air of pollution to help us breathe. When we assume the tree pose we can reflect on these good qualities and calm our restless minds.
Jnana mudra is the hand gesture of wisdom. To do this we turn the palms up and bring the tip of the first finger and thumb together. We can combine jnana mudra with many of our poses and reflect on the quality of wisdom. Around Christmas we can reflect on the wisdom taught by Lord Jesus Christ. He teaches the ultimate wisdom – when we give our hearts and minds in love to the Supreme Person then this love overflows to all other creatures. Try Tree Pose with Jnana mudra and reflect on the Christmas spirit.