'Tis the season...to freak out! So much to do, and so few days left to do it all. Holiday parties to attend, work to wrap up, shopping to do (and the crowds there—my dad calls shopping malls little outposts of hell, especially during the holiday season). Not only that, but the possibility of travelling, and seeing your mother, or (ACK!) the out-laws (or fill in the blank with your horrible relative here) can make it nearly unbearable. On top of all that, regular eating, sleeping and exercise habits are about to be replaced by too much sugar, too much food in general, alcohol, late nights and sitting around.
There aren't enough hours in the day to keep up with your yoga practice. But this is exactly the time you need it. Yoga can help in so many ways during this most wonderful time of the year.
Yoga can help you de-stress and unwind. Bring your attention to your breath (oh yeah!) after holding your breath and biting your tongue as your sister pushes those buttons and makes you wonder, "How old are we?" Come back to the present moment and leave 1982 and those old patterns of interacting behind you for a bit. Let go of the past and stop fretting about the future—when we do this we are able to focus on things like gratitude, and are able to deal with the pressures we are under with much more grace and peace. Sounds good, doesn't it?
Yoga is moving meditation. This directed attention to a single task happening in the present can help shed tensions and irritations that have built up, resulting in energy and optimism, so you can remain calm and clear for what's up next. Take the time to de-stress and you'll be more effective, more efficient, and more calm while finishing off that to-do list, or while listening to your mother-in-law criticize your cooking and parenting.
Replace the sugar high (followed by the drop) with some all-natural endorphins. After sitting on the couch visiting, moving your body will help elevate your mood and keep it up for 12 hours. Not only will you feel better for those next 12 hours, but you'll be burning off some of those extra calories you consumed, and you'll be bringing up your metabolism to help deal with the food you're going to eat later. You'll thank yourself at the end of the holidays when you have to take off the yoga pants and get back into your suit.
Stretching your body in all the different ways we do in yoga can help get rid of the "cobwebs" (technically called "fuzz") of fascia that build between up your muscles and other internal bits when you are not moving. After working on that Christmas puzzle with the kids, a yoga class can be just the thing to make you feel alive in your body again.
No matter where you are, or what you're doing this holiday season, take the time to care for yourself. There is so much to do, and so many stressful things going on, this is the time you need your yoga practice. Bring your attention to your breath, and be present. Let go of the stress, embrace peace, and have a very merry holiday.
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