How Yoga & Mindfulness Can Get You Through the Holidays
Thanksgiving is around the corner and Christmas decorations are already starting to take over stores… can you feel the holiday stress coming already?! What should be a relaxing and reflective time with family is often marred by the worry of getting everything done and making sure everyone is having a good time, yourself included.
But what if the holiday season didn’t have to stress you out? What if you could find a way to feel festive without the pressure? The good news is, you can! By adding a little yoga practice and mindfulness to the mix, you could find yourself managing this holiday season better than ever before.
We’ve pulled together some top tips to get you through this holiday season intact!
Being mindful means being present, even if it’s the last thing you feel like being! The purpose is to allow ourselves to feel emotions and think thoughts, but not be overwhelmed with them and instead accept that they are part of the moment, but will change. There’s no right or wrong with mindfulness, there is just observance.
Before you attend any functions, check in with yourself to see how your feeling. Take a few moments to breathe deeply and assess your feelings and thoughts. Don’t consider any to be good or bad, just notice them. Take a few big breaths, expanding your abdomen each time, and think about the following.
Stress often comes from thinking about the past or future, rather than planning ourselves in the present. This can lead to anxiety and stress over what’s to come or what may have happened in the past, and by working to be present instead we can relieve much of that stress. The holiday season often means one thing after another, but if you can find a way to concentrate only on each thing as it occurs then that should ease some of the tension. Of course, you’ll need to do some forward planning, but set aside time to do this and don’t get caught in a cycle of constantly thinking about what’s next!
Let go of expectations
We often have ideas about how we want things to be or turn out, and during the holiday season especially. let go of your expectations for the holidays 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. By not setting high expectations for the holidays you can roll with the punches more easily.
Be compassionate to yourself and others
Practice kindness to yourself and to your family. Don’t push yourself too hard during the holiday season and you’ll actually enjoy it more. Spend some quiet time with yourself if you need to, and relieve the pressure by being mindful in the moment. Realise that everyone is usually doing the best they can, even if it doesn’t seem like it. Try to avoid rehashing any past tensions and instead savor the good moments. Reflect on the good things often, whether they’re related specifically to the holiday season or were 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 do yoga during the holidays, to help you relieve any stress or tension you might have. There’s always time for a quick round of sun salutations or exercises that will help you to destress at the end of the day.
Concentrate on your breathing
Finding somewhere quiet to meditate or practice some yogic mantra can really make a difference during the holiday season. It will help you to calm your mind and focus on something other than all the thoughts racing through your head.
Practice restorative asanas
Relaxing in child’s pose, balancing in tree pose or completing some other restorative asanas is time well spent, even if you feel like it’s taking you away from things you have to do. You’ll then face all the tasks you need to complete with a clearer mind and feeling more relaxed. Check out this stress-releasing holiday yoga sequence for some ideas.
Yoga when you can
Suddenly feel like you have no time for class anymore? Fit yoga in where you can! Practice in short bursts several times a day. A few minutes when you wake up and before bed, while you’re waiting for someone to be ready, when the dinner is in the oven, etc. Concentrate on what’s important to you. If it’s retaining the flexibility that you’ve worked for then complete exercises to help that, or if you find yourself carrying tension in your back and neck then make that your focus. It’s amazing how much a few stretches can relax you!
Yoga and mindfulness can really help to remove tension that builds during the holiday season. Even if you enjoy this time of year and you’re having fun, all the activities and things to do can get a little overwhelming and put stress on your body. Don’t forget the power that yoga and practicing mindfulness can have in helping you through!
And if you need some tips for gifts for your fellow yogi’s then check out our Yoga Gift Guide!