How to bring some hygge into your life

Last weekend I attended a hygge workshop with the amazing Breathing Space Yoga Studio. A lover of all things hygge as well as yoga, I wanted to attend this last year but never managed to find the time. So when this came up again, the stars aligned and I was really happy to be able to make it along for a special couple of hours of yoga practice, mindfulness, relaxation and connection with others and myself.

What is hygge?

Hygge is the Danish practice of being cosy – lighting candles, long walks in nature, spending time with friends around a fire, eating together and snuggling up with a blanket. It’s become more and more popular in the UK over the past few years especially as we get into Autumn and the nights start to draw in.

the power of connection

One of the core values of The Breathing Space is to build a sense of community and connection to each other. Whilst we’ve all been making the most of virtual meet ups, you definitely cannot beat the real thing and it was wonderful to be back at the studio with real face to face connection with other human beings. We set up our mats in a socially distanced space, taking in the candle light as the daylight started to disappear. It was a lovely touch to also find in each space some cosy socks that we had been gifted to take the hygge feeling back home with us.

the 5 koshas

Christine opened the workshop with an explanation of the five layers of our being and the importance of connecting to each to find out what we need. The five layers or koshas are:
  1. Annamaya Kosha: The outer sheath is the body layer—muscles, bones, skin, organs. Anna means food, which is what sustains this level.
  2. Pranamaya Kosha: The next sheath is the life force/energy sheath. It is concerned with the breath and the flow of energy through the body.
  3. Manomaya Kosha: The next sheath is the mind or mental sheath. It has to do with thoughts and emotions. It is maintained through meditation.
  4. Vijnanamaya Kosha: is the knowledge sheath. This kosha is comprised of your wisdom, intuition, and perception. Meditation is also the key to this layer.
  5. Anadamaya Kosha: The innermost sheath is the bliss sheath. It represents unending joy, love, peace, and complete happiness.
When life is out of balance, we must identify the kosha that is troubled and take on practices to help it come back into harmony with the others. Exploring and integrating each layer brings us closer to a state of bliss.

eye to eye

We then worked through a practice in pairs and sat facing each other to maintain eye to eye contact with our partner for three minutes. I knew that this was going to feel uncomfortable but also from my daily breathing practice that three minutes is actually a very short period of time and to keep focusing on my breath to work through any discomfort. We were encouraged to reflect on what we observed during the practice. I noticed three things. Firstly that my partner had the most beautiful eyes and that I could see both kindness and pain within them. I wondered if the pain was actually my own pain being reflected back to me and I felt that this was being received with a deep compassion. I also noticed that I was eager to make sure that my partner felt that the expression on my face was offering her kindness and compassion back in return.

the mindful ritual of preparing tea

A beautiful mindfulness practice involved the ritual of preparing some chai tea for us. Sitting with eyes closed, we listened to the sounds of the tea being prepared. We each held our glass of tea in our hands feeling the warmth of it and took in the beautiful scents of the herbs and spices which you could feel had been lovingly prepared for us. Drinking the tea together deepened the sense of calm connection within the room. It was a real hygge treat to nourish all of our senses.

yoga flow

As always at The Breathing Space, the yoga practice was calming and restorative and my body’s aches, pains and tensions were grateful for the movement and time to stretch. A yin practice also tested our ability to find our edge of comfort reminding us that life is not always easy. At the edge of our comfort, if we practice, we are able to pause, observe and then see how we can find a way through the challenge in front of us. By slowing down and observing what emotions arise, we can then think and feel what our response needs to be, most importantly remembering that whatever response we make, that’s ok.