Monthly Archives: February 2018

Moving Mountains in the Year of the Earth Dog

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Happy New Year! Yes, yes, it’s all a distant memory for those of us who organise our lives according to the Gregorian calendar. But in countries where the traditional ‘lunisolar’ Chinese calendar is used, millions of people in red attire are celebrating the start of the Year of the Earth Dog. And the rest of us can benefit from doing the same, because – like the science of yoga – the Chinese New Year gives us tools for becoming masterly in our lives.

The look of luck!

Chinese New Year (also known as the “Spring Festival” in mainland China) always begins with a new moon, somewhere between the 21st of January and the 20th of February. This year (2018), it starts on Friday 16th February, when we move into the Year of the Earth Dog – and celebrations will continue for the following fortnight, ending with a ‘lantern festival’ on Friday 2nd March.

Chinese New Year and the Zodiac

The Chinese associate each new year with one of twelve animals and one of the five elements of Chinese astrology, namely: Wood, Fire, Earth, Metal, and Water (which are then further divided into Yin and Yang categories). This means that the years run in 60-year cycles; the last time we were in a Yang Earth Dog year, for example, was 1958, and before that, in 1898.

According to tradition, this information can help us both anticipate the events of the coming year and understand the personalities, relationships and destinies of the people born during each year.

Who let the (earth) dogs out?!

We’re just emerging from a Fire Rooster year – a period of focus and application, of getting the ‘farmyard’ in order, and of investing time and effort without expecting immediate gratification, according to Chinese astrology. This Mystic Mamma blog urged us to “see beyond the current situation and keep your eye on whatever it is that you value in the long run; just keep chipping away without wavering. Apply yourself.” Anyone involved with the current swell of support for Women’s Rights will no doubt find those words very poignant.

With the arrival of the Earth Dog, it looks like we’re now ready for some action – whether that’s in the realm of global politics, or in the realm of our own homes. According to one Chinese horoscope, “Planning, postponing and negligence are words you will need to remove from your vocabulary during this year… The Dog will accelerate the initiation of all things, but this will bring, in the same time, pressure and stress in the everyday life.”

But even with this momentum carrying us forward, we should still expect to face challenges. The Yang Earth Dog is represented by an image of two mountains, which apparently means, “something is blocking our view or our path. So we need to find a flat road around the mountains to find our way… We need to use our wisdom to find the better way to conquer the mountains.”

What’s your Chinese horoscope sign?

It’s both fun and useful to know your own Chinese zodiac sign. Whether or not you believe in the Chinese system of astrology – or indeed, any kind of astrology – doesn’t matter. Such things offer us a colourful way of contemplating our own lives, and they spark the imagination. We’re naturally interested in stories – watching the telly is just a modern version of sitting around a fire telling stories. With knowledge of where our birthdays fall, according to Chinese astrology, we can look at our lives and our behaviour from a fresh perspective.

Find out your Chinese zodiac sign

In our classes this week…

Chinese New Year celebrations

Get your dragon flow on!

Wear red! As good old Wikipedia explains on its page about the Chinese New Year, “Clothing mainly featuring the color red or bright colors is commonly worn throughout the Chinese New Year because it was once believed that red could scare away evil spirits and bad fortune… Red is a color of good luck.”

As well as wearing red for protection from negative energies, the Chinese perform dragon and lion dances throughout their New Year celebrations, which have as their soundtrack loud drum beats and ear-shattering clashes of cymbals. Although we’ll be leaving the noisier elements of the Chinese New Year out of our classes, be prepared to get your dragon flow on!

If you dream it…

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It’s all over. The celebrations, the January sales, the resolutions. We’re into the second month of a brand new year and, even with a Wintry bite still in the air, there’s a distinct sense that Spring is on its way. So what about all those good intentions you had for 2018? If you feel like you’re on the back foot, here’s the good news; you haven’t missed the deadline! In fact, there’s still plenty of time. Right now, the best thing you can do is hunker down with a pen and paper, and create your ‘dream list’…

Making your dream list

Dreamy beach in Sri Lanka

Make your list, open some doors…

Although there’s no harm in setting goals or making resolutions at the start of the year, there’s no need to rush ahead and attempt to make good on them immediately (find out why, here). Instead, we recommend using nature’s ‘down time’ to make a dream list. Think about what you’d like to experience this coming year – the places you’d like to go, the artwork you’d like to see, the languages you’d like to speak, the new tricks you’d like to learn. Share your dreams, and listen to other people’s.

Creating the right setting for making your dream list

It might sound simple enough, jotting a few ideas down on a piece of paper, but there’s more to making a list than that – it requires a little bit of planning:

  • Identify the people you’d like to do this with, unless you’d prefer to do it alone.
  • Schedule some time – set a reminder on your phone, put it on the family calendar, write it in your diary. However you do it, be sure to allocate yourself this time.
  • When that time comes, switch off your computer and your phone – filter out the distractions, and give your mind the freedom to explore the topic in hand.
  • Arm yourself with a pen and a notebook (good excuse to treat yourself to a lovely new journal!).

What to put on your dream list

Think big and think small, but think always about YOU. So often, we have lists that are mostly to do with nurturing and supporting those around us – as is evident in the responses given to the artist, Alice Instone, who gathered “prominent and inspiring women’s to-do lists and made a number of art works from her own lists”, for an exhibition, entitled The Pram in the Hall. But this is a time to top yourself up with what you need. Besides, the better you feel, the better you’ll be able to continue to serve those around you.

We need to do a better job of putting ourselves higher on our own ‘to do’ list ~ Michelle Obama


These are some of the things on my list for 2018:

Daydreaming by the fire

PJs, a fire, time to dream…

As you may be aware, we’ve got our hands full at the Harvey household, with a new family member to nurture, a long list of fiddly jobs to finish in our recently renovated house, a yoga school to run, and all the other demands of daily life! But these aren’t reasons to NOT have a dream list; quite the opposite – these are reasons to HAVE one! This is what I’ve got on mine:

      1. Print and frame 10 family photos and put them on the wall
      2. Connect with three old friends
      3. Log 50 hours of Tai Chi lectures and practice
      4. Schedule monthly morning / breakfast dates with Daniel

Put some dates on your dream list

Visualise the year ahead, see its nature – the growth of Spring, the colour of Summer, the harvest of Autumn, and the deep rest of Winter. Some of the things on your list will naturally fall into these categories – for example, you might paint your allotment shed in Spring, go to
a lively festival in the Summer, make a photo album of your holiday snaps in Autumn, and book a Yin Yoga retreat for Winter.

Other things will be suited to any given time of the year. But nature’s rhythms can still help, particularly when it comes to actually identifying what it is that you want to put on your dream list.

      • Illustration of a girl having a dream

        Visualise the year ahead…

        Spring prompts us to ask ourselves what we want to grow

      • Summer invites us visualise how it will look when it’s flourishing
      • Autumn asks us what we will gain from it, what we will reap
      • And Winter wants to know if it’ll let us settle

Hold on to your dreams

Whether you transfer your list to your mobile phone notes, keep it on a scrap of paper in your purse, or learn it by heart, keep your dream list close. Check in with it whenever you get a moment. Seek out and create those moments. Then stop and really feel the joy of manifesting
your own dreams, however ‘big’ or ‘small’ they may be.

“Dreams come true. Without that possibility, nature would not incite us to have them.” ~ John Updike