Winter Self-Care: Tips From a Yogi
We are thrilled to introduce you to our newest partner Bree Dillon, of Bree Dillon Yoga. She will be our yoga instructor for our retreats and clinics, as well as a collaborator here. As winter draws near, she talks about how yoga can play a part in your overall routine. She took some time out of her busy life to help us get to know her better. You can find Bree at her studio in Fremont where she does private and small group yoga instruction, or on the web at breedillon.com.
I'm always interested in how people get into the activities they love; how did you come to yoga?
I was a three-sport athlete in high school and recruited to go to college on an athletic scholarship. After I declined, I fell off the wagon. For so long my identity had been wrapped up in sports that I didn’t know what to do without a team. I found yoga while searching for a new sense of self and it proved to be just that: my “team” became my body and mind working together. It was really the only place I’d been encouraged to use the two in collaboration. In fact, I’d become quite skilled at learning to ignore my pain and push harder to force my way toward goals, which took a toll on my body and mentally stressed me out. I became an “over-competer” – the kind of person that competes even when completely unnecessary—but as I continued to practice yoga I noticed these things shift. My ability to perform as an athlete vastly improved as I learned to listen to what my body was signaling and I became so much less tense from all the stress I’d created with my need to win. Rather than strong-arming my way towards an objective I eased my way there with discernment about how to stay balanced while building strength and skill.
That sounds really powerful. Has your yoga practice changed over the years?
After I discovered yoga 14 years ago, my relationship with it has ebbed and flowed. There have been times my commitment to yoga may have appeared non-existent but the practice of yoga is more than what we do on our mats. Underneath all the down dogs there’s a discipline of mindfulness that can be applied to anything we do and that's what has remained consistent for me.
That sounds so similar to how running has evolved for me--as more a practice than a goal, which I think can be really freeing for people in our goal-driven society. As an athlete yourself and someone who works with athletes, what is the most helpful aspect of yoga?
I find the most powerful benefit of yoga is that it trains us to listen. When we listen to what our bodies are signaling and what they need, we find that health and high performance are more readily available to us. When we listen to the constant stream of thoughts playing in our heads we can sift helpful from harmful and gain clarity and focus. When we listen, we discover that we are constantly evolving and what may have worked for us at one point isn’t relevant anymore and we can adjust to make the very best use of our faculties for our goals today!
I love that. I’ve been working on that myself and it can be unsettling to re-frame our routines and try to figure out what is relevant. Taking time to listen is a great way to think of it, especially this time of year that spurs reflection and setting intentions for the coming year. As we get into the colder months, how can yoga help?
If you’re like me and you spend a lot of time outdoors, you take your cues from nature. In the winter, things slow down and our kinetic energy follows suit. Rather than fighting against this pattern yoga can help us through this season with a practice that compliments this cycle. Two things I do during this time of year: challenge myself to deliberately move slower and hold poses longer; (I am always amazed at how potent my practice becomes when I do!); and discipline myself to meditate regularly. Did you know that meditation has been proven to:
reduce pain and inflammation
improve focus and memory
decrease heart rate and blood pressure.
stimulate immune system function.
instill a sense of peaceful calm.
lower stress hormones.
lessen depression and anxiety.
support the feeling of connectedness.
Who doesn’t need ALL of that in the winter months!?!
Those are great reasons to take advantage of the shorter days and cozy up next to a fire and sit! Speaking of meditation, you have a free meditation class, correct?
Yes! Every Wednesday from 7:30-8am I offer a free guided meditation in my Fremont studio. Details are on my website!
Thanks, Bree, for taking some time out of your day to reflect.
Bree is a yogi, athlete, anatomy geek and an unapologetic problem-solver motivated by creating a world full healthy, mindful people. After 14 years of combined practice and teaching Bree Dillon Yoga LLC became a brick and mortar business with her private Seattle-based studio in 2016. BDYoga focuses on providing accessible and targeted yoga to people of all levels. Outside of her studio Bree runs local and international yoga-based programs that integrate education and recreation.