Maintaining a practice throughout the season can keep stress levels low – and the spirit of giving high.
Keep a repertoire of calming poses to go to when holiday madness strikes.
IF YOU THINK YOU’RE enlightened, spend time with your family for the holidays. Sure, your family knows you best, which means they know how to make you happy. But they also undoubtedly know exactly how to push your buttons and get under your skin. This year, avoid a merry meltdown with yoga.
Develop a Routine
When you feel yourself being derailed by the holiday madness, take five to 10 minutes to practice yoga – it will help keep you grounded in the fire of stress. Keep a series of calming poses – such as down dog or standing forward fold – in your arsenal of wellness weapons for this season. Have a spot mapped out where you are alone and can decompress. The familiarity of your practice will make you feel more at home within yourself both physically and mentally. Try to complete your home practice when you wake up, and resort to it as you notice yourself becoming run-down.
Take Deep Breaths
In yoga, you bring your attention to the quality of your breath. If you notice that you are short of breath, or that you are struggling to catch your breath, it’s no longer considered yoga. That response is a sure sign that you have pushed yourself beyond your limits and could potentially get hurt.
The same principal applies to real-life scenarios. If you're stuck in holiday traffic or a conversation gets heated, pause and deepen your breath. Use the yoga-breathing technique of inhaling and exhaling deeply through your nose and deliberately deepening your breath. This exercise trains your mind to respond rather than to panic or react negatively. When you pause in any situation, it gives you the chance to process everything more completely. Bite your tongue before you bite someone else’s.
Practice Self-Care and Self-Awareness
Take care of yourself before you extend yourself to others. Self-care techniques could be as simple as taking the time to practice yoga, enjoy a couple minutes of stillness or drink a warm glass of lemon water in the morning. In yoga, you are always aware of how you feel and how you stand both physically and internally before you advance. With this clarity, you can navigate the different waves of emotions and challenges that get rapidly thrown your way this time of year.
Through a yoga practice, you cultivate your gifts and offer them to those around you. You take your talents off your mat and into the world to serve others. This holiday, give meaningful gifts to the people you appreciate most in your life. Those who truly care about you value your presence the most. Make someone you love happy – it’s the most effective way to find happiness for yourself. So, shut off your phone and step away from the computer – if just for a meal and an hour – and share your undivided attention with a loved one.
When you practice yoga, you start to feel subtleties in your body pinpointing exactly where you're stretching and strengthening your muscles. You also become more in tune with the world around you, and you feel things more deeply. It becomes increasingly difficult to live complacently because your intuition affects you more immediately and profoundly. You are equipped to convey your feelings honestly. So when that annual Christmas conflict or conversation comes up, stop the hurtful comments and say how you really feel before it escalates.
‘Tis the season for indulgences. When you have a regular yoga routine, you can enjoy yourself without diminishing your physical health. Your regimen can be challenging enough to keep you moving, sweating and feeling light through the holidays. With a stronger sense of your optimal weight and overall wellness, you feel more responsible and committed to yourself and all the progress you're making. With that awareness, you become more conscious about what you are eating. In this way, yoga helps to maintain your diet and your physical fitness. This self-control will permeate all facets of your life.
Focus On The Good First
Most important, yoga teaches you to be positive first. It’s easy to get caught up in all the different tasks and stresses that come with the holiday season. When it gets challenging, remember that the holidays allow you to truly savor life and the people you love. In yoga, you are trained to see the silver lining, especially in more difficult moments.
Try to start conversations positively, even when responding to something negative. Rather than talking about gossip, shift the conversation to things and people you care about. When you talk about yourself, don’t take yourself too seriously. It will help you keep an open mind to any unexpected reactions.