Do you ever have those moments where you look around and think, “How is it already December?” If you maintain a busy schedule, managing a career, a family, relationships, etc. you might not notice the holiday season sneak up on you until it’s too late.
In fact, if you haven’t noticed, you are here, December, full blown holiday season. The holidays are meant for taking time off, relaxing and connecting with family and friends, but if you are still swamped with work deadlines, last minute holiday shopping, or even coordinating holiday parties, it can be challenging to allow yourself the time to relax. Or maybe you even have some family members who you struggle to connect with and you have to try a little harder to find ease during your holiday festivities.
This is why you need yoga during the holidays.
When the holiday hustle picks up, it can be easy to taper off in your yoga practice. Prioritizing tying up loose ends at work before you take time off, cleaning, decorating, hosting friends and family, planning and preparing meals can leave very little time for your usual 8:30 AM Vinyasa practice or your Friday night Restorative class. It is the season of giving, right? So maybe you need to give a little less to yourself in order to give those around you an ugly Christmas sweater party they’ll remember for years.
This is even more reason why you need yoga during the holidays.
First, yoga teaches you to connect with the present moment. If you’ve been steady with your practice before the holiday season, you may have seen them coming back in October and allowed yourself the time to prepare. However, if you are just now waking up to the fact that it is the first week of December and you have done little, if anything, to prepare for the holidays, it is not too late. Learning to connect to the present moment through a yoga practice can keep you grounded while you make your last-minute preparations, preventing you from spinning off into a panic-driven holiday whirlwind.
Second, yoga, specifically pranayama, or breathing exercises, train you to find grounding presence through your breath and soothe your nervous system. There are certain breathing exercises meant for stimulating the parasympathetic division of your nervous system, the part of your nervous system that helps you to relax. If you are feeling frazzled, caught up in the fight or flight response of the sympathetic division of your nervous system, because you nearly burnt your holiday meal and that one family member that knows how to push your buttons wants to make sure you know you almost burnt the holiday meal, it may be challenging to regain your composure before dinner is served so you can truly be present with your friends and family. With a regular yoga practice and familiarity with different pranayamas, you can take a few moments to breathe, perhaps using the Samavritti Pranayama (Samavritti meaning “Equal Movement” – Inhale to the count of four, hold the inhale to the count of four, exhale to the count of four, hold the exhale to the count of four, and repeat) and mellow out before taking your place at the table.
Third, yes this is the season for giving, giving time, giving presence, giving love, but that doesn’t mean you should stop giving to yourself. In order give more, we have to receive more. You are more deserving of your own love and presence than anyone else. This may sound selfish, but when we focus so much on giving to those around us, neglecting ourselves, we drain our well of loving energy dry before our family even gathers around the table. When prioritizing your holiday to-do list, or even doing your last minute gift shopping, don’t leave yourself out of the mix. Give yourself the gift of your own loving presence, take time out to move and breathe on your mat, and fill your own cup with your love before serving others.
So if you find yourself getting more and more tense as the holidays draw nearer, whether it is because of your endless shopping and to-do lists or even the influx of travelers and consumers giving rise to traffic, remember to be generous with yourself this season and truly take the time to relax. Gift yourself with the gift of yoga, whether it is inside or outside of the studio, and give yourself some space to breathe.
Presented by Marcy Hullander