Winter Practice

By Lynn Felder, RYT

In her wonderful poem, "One Art," the poet Elizabeth Bishop writes:

"The art of losing isn't hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster,

Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn't hard to master."

But a friend, a love, a child, an ability – all the things that we lose with the passage of time – are not door keys, and, surely, their loss is more difficult to accept. But accept we must.

Our yoga teaches us, daily, how to deal with loss. As we practice asanas over decades, we watch our physical powers increase, blossom, and then, alas, begin to wane. With the waning of physical power, however, come other powers, if we can be alert to them, and appreciative. Perhaps we grow in compassion, in understanding, in kindness. Perhaps we simply grow our ability to accept our losses and find the sweetness in the inevitability of loss.

Sometimes, it is our knowledge of the ultimate death of the body that brings us into a more compassionate relationship with that body. "We are but a moment's sunlight, fading on the grass," the old Youngbloods song goes, so we are inspired to make our moment in the sun as sweet and as meaningful as we can.

Although late winter contains the loss of greenness, a little death of the earth, already signs of spring are beginning to show themselves. The days grow a little longer, the light a little brighter, a green shoot or a red bud appears.

January 15 through about March 15 is the season to Rest & Reflect. As the earth takes a last soft sigh in darkness, let us rest our bodies a bit — a Restorative class, perhaps, or a slightly longer-than-usual savasana — and reflect on what we have lost, love it and let it go.

Surely, with spring on the horizon, Nature is simply clearing out her house to make space for the next, equally inevitable, delight.


Copyright by Lynn Felder February 2009. Lynn Felder is an award-winning journalist, a yoga teacher registered with the Yoga Alliance and the author of the DVD “Gentle Yoga for Cancer Patients,” available at

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