The holidays have officially begun! For many of us, this time means a flurry of not only snow, but also activity. Though the days are shorter, the holiday season asks us to do more, not less. If you find it challenging to meet the season’s demands without abandoning your yoga practice, worry not. With some mindful steps, you can make sure to stay in touch with your practice, and thus your sanity, during this time.
Here are ways that you can maintain your practice during the holiday season:
1. Modify your meditations. It is common to place the focus on the third eye center when meditating, a technique used to improve mental clarity. However, during the holiday season, we spend a lot of time in our heads pondering to-do lists, gift ideas, and travel plans. So this month, try a body-focused meditation to drop into your physical body, something often neglected when there is so much thinking to do. Try this: Place your your hands on your belly while practicing deep belly breathing, and notice the way your hands move with your inhales and exhales. Feel your breath flowing down into the hips and pelvis. Observe the diaphragm as it flattens during inhales, gently squeezing the belly’s organs. Follow each inhale with a slow, full exhalation. Using the breath as your anchor, stay present to the sensations in the body when the mind is tempted to go over that oh-so-crucial shopping list one more time.
2. “Time management yoga.” A common excuse for not practicing yoga is the age-old “I don’t have time” mantra. I am guilty of it myself, especially when life gets busy. So if you catch yourself saying this, try this trick: Start or end your holiday shopping trips with a class at your favorite local studio. Work it in as it if it’s another item on your to-do list that must get accomplished. If you practice at home, use a timer like the free Insight Timer app to motivate yourself to practice and to keep track of time. Do some gentle asana or sun salutations, or try a seated meditation, but take this short break to stay in the present moment, reminding yourself that when the timer goes off, you have full permission to return to your busy life. Let this time be the gift you give yourself this holiday season. The best part? During a time of increased spending, this gift doesn’t cost a penny.
3. Set strong intentions. It is important to remember what the season is all about, and thankfully, yoga practice is a wonderful space in which to explore the reason for the season! Of course different traditions hold different beliefs about why we celebrate this time of year, but some themes remain constant: peace, love and extending kindness to others. Consider your continued commitment to your practice as a way to honor these virtues, knowing that by stepping onto your mat, you’re fueling yourself with the ability to fully embody these qualities when you step out into the world. During the chilly month of December, set the intention of filling your spirit with warmth so you may remember your incredible abundance during this time of year.
When in doubt, remember that your yoga practice is always available to you. Whether you’re at a family gathering or a shopping mall, you can always pause a take a breath, or step outside and enjoy the crisp winter air. What are some other ways you stay connected with your yoga practice during the holiday season?