There are as many different types of freedom as there are ways to experience freedom. Many can relate to the feeling of freedom a day off work brings, or a long awaited vacation. Some may experience the financial freedom of making that last car or mortgage payment. Others may know the freedom of letting go of a habit, belief or relationship that no longer serves them.

The oxford dictionary defines nourishment as “the food or other substances necessary for growth, health, and good condition.” Have you given much thought as to what aids you to personally grow and be in good health? Truth be told, it is far too easy to live day to day on autopilot, without giving this question much thought.

When it comes to support, everyone experiences it in different ways. You may feel professionally supported by your supervisor or colleagues, personally cared for by loved ones, spiritually backed by your faith community. Energetically, we all contain a base of support via the root chakra, known as Muladhara in Sanskrit.

The topic of many conversations as of late is that of feeling fatigued. Defined by Oxford as “extreme tiredness resulting from mental or physical exertion or illness.” You might identify any number of current stressors contributing to this state. Whether your particular brand of fatigue is related to zoom, e-learning, social distancing, overwork or dealing with physical illness, the outcome is the same. Feeling chronically tired, hopeless, experiencing impaired decision-making, and aching muscles are just a few of the symptoms.

While we may all celebrate different December holidays, what we share in 2020 is that this is the first time we will be celebrating during a pandemic. It is true that during any given year you probably have experienced joy as well as loss in some way or another. What is different this year is that as a society, we are experiencing loss on a grand scale.

This week, as we begin to explore the five koshas, we focus our attention on Annamaya kosha – the physical body. Anna means “food.” Each of the names of the koshas is followed by the word maya, which means, “consisting of.” As mentioned last week, the word kosha is translated as “sheath” or “layer.” Therefore, Annamaya kosha is the layer consisting of food.

One of the many things I enjoy about my work as a health educator is expanding knowledge about self-care. When teaching, I often joke that my students will get angry with me when they learn that I’m not just going to tell them to go to the spa. While many definitions exist, the self-care I advocate for takes a holistic approach, and often involves doing some of the “stickier” work of examining how aligned our daily actions and choices are with our goals, values and ideals.

This week we unearth the last of the niyamas, Ishvara Pranidhana, otherwise known as surrender. The practice of surrender reminds us to let go of what we can’t change, which in turn opens one up to greater possibility.

This week we turn our attention toward the fourth of the five niyamas (personal practices), Svadhyaya, also known as self-study. Svadhyaya is an invitation to look at ourselves honestly and objectively, and then set an intention to release the negative qualities and reinforce the positive. As you reflect, you may ask yourself questions such as: In what situations do I react, and why? How much of my response is automatic? What are my habitual tendencies?

This week we turn our attention toward Tapas, the third of the five niyamas (personal practices). While Tapas literally means “heat”, it is most often translated as self-discipline. Tapas reminds us of the importance our everyday choices and actions play in accomplishing our goals.

As many states ease restrictions, there are new decisions to be made regarding how ready one feels (or not) to go out there and engage with the “new normal.” Here in Illinois, we are on track to move into phase four. Among other things, that will mean restaurants can offer indoor service with limited capacity, and movie theaters and gyms will reopen. There will be guidelines in place for all of these, including continuing to wear face masks and physically distance.