When the Holidays Aren’t Happy

A personal note….
Hello Friends & Students & 
Colleagues,
 Today is a surprisingly quite day in NYC. I got through most my shopping, did some baking, got in a class, and still have some indulgent hours to sit, reflect and connect with you.

First of all, thank you for another phenomenal year of learning.  We taught 92 students in PYI’s advanced yoga trainings, and I got to sit with hundreds more in trainings at Yoga Vida, Pure Yoga, and Ohra Yoga.  We had another retreat to Africa, with a potential Bali retreat on the way (Curious? Please email me here.) plus a full roster of classes every week.

Not only did our team apply for accreditation our school’s yoga therapy program, but I’ve experienced a dream that has been loooooooong in the making for me. It seemed like a simple thing to ask from life, and yet I have found it to be elusive, challenging, mysterious and nearly complete out of my control:  I met someone kind, and I fell in love.

So I have a great deal to be thankful for.  But instead of yet another “Happy Holidays” card crowding in your inbox, I felt compelled to speak about what the holidays are often like for me, and so many others.

The holidays – and particularly the new year – have meant depression for me for many years.  They would lead me to measure my life – to consider my choices and my goals – and in doing so, I always felt like I came up short. As a single person with no kids, I so often felt like the odd man out at the party – what could be wrong with me, when everyone else seems to have a family unit? Never mind that my friends & family love me, or that most families and couples are not as happy as they seem – none of that could completely take me off the holiday cocktail of self-judgment and loneliness.

Today my partner and I were talking about depression – considering our friends and family members who have battled it – and I admitted that I am one of them.  The saying goes that you “battle” depression – but I always think of it as a well.  I would feel myself sinking down into a well of darkness, and when that time came, I would have to claw my hands into the mucky earth of the sides of the well and climb myself out of it – one good action after another.

“What got you out of it, do you think?” my partner asked. The first word that came to my mind was: Yoga.

Frankly, this is an oversimplification.  I went to therapy for years to identify my predisposition for mixed anxiety and depression, and went through years of very slow work in choosing better behaviors, better self talk, better friends, better habits – even a better career to manage my emotions.  

I needed that professional care to be where I am today.  But my practice is where and how I get to participate in my own healing. I learned extremely effective tools for getting out of that well. And with time and discipline, I’ve learned to stay clear of it whenever possible.  I still check in with a pro from time to time, but nothing can replace the empowering ability to be a part of your healing process.  

If you’re on this list, chances are that you’ve felt this ability to improve your mood in yoga.  My gift this year is a video of perhaps one of the best tools for managing a host of emotional challenges:  Alternate Nostril Breathing.  Even if you’ve tried it before, please give it a look again.  It’s one thing to get a toolbox as a gift under tree. It’s an entirely other matter to learn how to use those tools, and to put then to use when you need them the most.

You’re not alone.  
You are loved.  
You are perfect – just the way you are – and you have the tools you need to be healthy.  

These are the main lessons from my practice.  And I’m still here – happy to learn them with you again and again. 

To your health, Dana Functional Anatomy Online starts January 9th – Sign up today.
Care to learn more about PYI? The Yoga Therapy Certification is now 850 hours – including Practicum – and our faculty is expanding, too.