If the holiday season has you stressed or you’re not feeling very festive, there is good news! By adding a little yoga practice and mindfulness to your day, you will be able to get through this holiday season better than ever!
Below are a few tips I have put together to help get you through this holiday season.
Being mindful means being present, even if it’s the last thing you feel like doing! The purpose is to allow us to feel our emotions and think thoughts, but not to become overwhelmed with them! Instead accept that they are part of the moment and that they will pass. There’s no right or wrong with mindfulness, only observance.
Stress often comes from overthinking about the past or future, rather than remaining in the present. This can lead to anxiety and stress over what’s to come or what may have happened in the past. The holiday season often means one thing after another, but if you can focus on each thing as it occurs that can ease the tension.
Let Go of Expectations
Often, we have ideas about how we want things to be during the holiday season. Let go of expectations during the holiday season and simply let things happen. Not everything is going to turn out perfectly, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it for the way it is.
Be Compassionate for Yourself and Others
This may seem easy, however during the holiday season we often forget to practice kindness to ourselves and others. Spending quiet time with yourself when needed can relieve the pressure by being mindful in the moment. Try to avoid rehashing any past tensions and instead focus on the good moments. Reflect on the good things whether they’re related specifically to the holiday season or just a nice moment in your day.
The holiday season isn’t the time to set aside your yoga practice or let it slide. If anything, you should make more time to practice yoga during the holidays, to help you relieve any stress or tension you might have. There’s always time for a round of Simple Sun Salutations or Yin yoga to help you destress at the end of the day. Practicing yoga in short bursts several times a week when you wake up or prior to bed can work wonders and help you to relax.
Yoga and mindfulness can help to alleviate tension that builds during the holiday season. Even if you enjoy this time of year and you’re having fun, things can get a little overwhelming and put stress on your body. Don’t forget the benefits of practicing yoga and mindfulness can have.
Winter is a time for slowing down and reflection. We naturally have less energy to burn in colder winter months; cancellations and school closings, work, and even our favorite yoga class may leave us feeling more tired and out of balance than usual. The dark, colder days and nights can be unforgiving! Take advantage of these winter days to nourish your body and mind, and give yourself permission to slow down and keep in sync with the earth’s natural cycles.
Here are some tips to practice during the winter (and year round):
Yoga Asana: Get on your mat every day. I know this may seem obvious, but increased movement especially during the winter is a great way to not only increase your energy levels, but it’s also a great way to warm-up your muscles. If a slow paced, Yin, or restorative practice is better for you, then welcome that. Turn on music that is reflective of your mood or energetic state. This creates an opportunity to get fully connected with the body, and move with the music in a very instinctual way without any desired outcome or goal. Often, we may feel pressure to complete a particular series of postures as a yoga practice, turning on some music is a way to let that go.
Just Sit: Literally. Nothing fancy, nothing forced. Just sit and be with what you notice. Thoughts, sounds, body sensations, your breath, the weather outside . . . be with it all. The best thing is there’s no right or wrong way to do this.
Eat and Drink Well: Prepare nourishing, warming foods with fresh, local ingredients. Eat slowly, with awareness. Turn off the computer and put your phone away. Drink a warm cup of tea while reading or watching the snow outside of your window. Focus on each bite or sip of food and all the sensations that accompany the moment. Savor the experience.
Practice Gratitude: Make it a practice to notice and reflect upon the positives, such as having a warm home, food to eat, clean drinking water, the relationships in your life, and the natural beauty of your surroundings. Consider extending the positive effects of this practice outward; show kindness to a stranger by saying “hello” or “good morning”. Let friendliness, compassion, and appreciative joy into your heart and see how it changes your life, as well as the lives of others.
Leave me a comment on how you apply any of these tips.
More and more often today we hear the expression "being mindful" being used in general conversation. For those of us that have meditation and/or yoga practices this term is very much a part of our vocabulary but are we really comfortable with what it means for us in our day to day living. Mindfulness means being in the "moment", a conscious awareness of what is in our minds before we say or do anything. Not only being aware but of then examining those thoughts and deciding if they are negative in any way to ourselves or others.
"Before you speak, think - Is it necessary? Is it true? Is it kind? Will it hurt anyone? Will it improve on the silence". - Sri Sathya Sai Baba
Hurting ourselves or others through our words, actions or inaction's, brings negative energy into the lives of all affected. Even if what we are saying is true we have to ask ourselves what is the probable outcome of telling this truth. By withholding a truth are we saving someone from an unnecessary hurt or will their life be better in the long run? However, we also have to ask ourselves if we have enough real information on which to base our decision and if the answer is "no" or we are in doubt then we should withhold our comment. This is being mindful.
Even if someone has done something you consider careless - let it go. Recognize that everyone makes mistakes. We have no way of knowing what’s going on in a person's life that may have contributed to the perceived infraction. Take a deep breath and let go of any physical tension that has started to take hold of your body. Mindfulness exercises come from thousands of years of traditions and Eastern practices of meditation. By practicing mindfulness exercises, we can learn to focus our awareness/consciousness on the present moment without judging the thoughts that come in our mind. It's about letting the present become a reality in total consciousness and total awareness.
In yoga practice we learn to distinguish between when our bodies and our minds are in a state of tension/anxiety and when they are relaxed and we feel in control. Being mindful of what is happening to us and how we feel, allows us to lead a more organized and fulfilling life as we can direct our energies, both physical and mental towards being positive and productive.
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