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Yoga During the Holiday Season

 written by Mike Manning

holiday-yoga-320Ideally, the holidays are a time of festive parties and spending quality time with loved ones. However, the flurry of activities and the pressure to get so much done by certain dates can cause a lot of stress, even for people who look forward to the season. This is why it is so important to take time each day to renew yourself. Practicing yoga is one of the best ways to replenish your mind, body and spirit. Here are steps to take each day in order to remain calmer and happier despite the hustle and bustle around you.

1. Begin Each Day the Right Way

In the morning, we can set the tone for the entire day. Set aside time before or after breakfast for quiet contemplation. Follow this with healthful yoga poses to get your circulation moving and to allow a healthy, empowering flow of vital energy. If you start your day with a lot of stretching and breathing right, you’ll carry that positive feeling with you all day. Start with poses like down dog, cat-cow and even simple forward folds to work out all of the kinks from the day and night before.

2. Remember the Deeper Purpose Behind the Holidays

No matter what new gadgets or toys retailers tell us we should buy for others, the most important gifts are of the heart. These gifts don’t even have to be tangible objects. Spending time with loved ones by having a meal together or just being together is a great gift itself. Establish your own special traditions for the holiday time instead of letting retailers dictate.  

3. Create More Warmth in the Home

The holiday season is a perfect time to transform your home into a retreat where all who enter feel welcome to relax. Add extra pillows on the sofas, light some candles, simmer soothing fragrant things on the stove, such as cinnamon and cloves. Gentle meditation music playing in the background immediately sets the stage for calm at any time, whether you are doing yoga or sitting quietly with close friends. Besides the regular holidays, my wife and I also celebrate our anniversary. We like to keep our celebration simple and gift thoughtful things that add to the warmth and love in our home.

4. Pay Extra Attention to Nutrition

Holiday parties often mean large tables topped with decadent, tempting foods. There is no need to deprive yourself totally, but be mindful of what you consume. Foods high in sugar and fat may taste lovely and offer a temporary, warm glow. Soon after, however, you might notice energy loss and weight gain. It’s never a bad thing to treat yourself, but eating healthy and clean foods will give you the same warm and full feeling without leaving you feeling poorly later. You can still keep all of your traditional dishes, but reconsider the ways you prepare and cook them.  

As the season coincides with flu season, it is doubly important to maintain good nutrition. Keeping up with your yoga poses each day will benefit your overall health, but can only do so much to stave off the effects of poor nutrition.

5. Set Aside a Few Hours Just For You

The better you feel, the easier it will be to communicate compassionately with others. Daily yoga practice by yourself will help, but add extra pampering touches during your special hours or your special day. This could mean taking a long soak in a bath, going to a spa, or settling in with a good book.

It is easy to be caught up in the dialed-up energy of the holidays. It is also easy to forget that it is impossible to offer our best to loved ones if we allow ourselves to become depleted. Every day, look for ways to cultivate your inner peace.