A Yoga-Centered Holiday

Mike Manning has been a healthy living and fitness aficionado for ten years , but he started practicing yoga two years ago at his wife’s urging.  He uses yoga as a tool to help approach life and relationships in a healthy, balanced manner.

While we all love the holiday season, this time of year also serves its fair share of stress. With all of the shopping, extra get-togethers, cooking, visiting, and coordinating, there is often little time to relax and enjoy. Even though these holiday festivities and responsibilities are enjoyable activities and are most often associated with positive thoughts and energy, the truth is our bodies cannot differentiate between positive and negative stress. So, whether you are feeling it or not, your body is likely welcoming an additional guest this season, and I don’t mean your favorite aunt.

Whether you are planning your family’s holiday meal or not, you deserve a holiday season that is happy and bright. So, how are you going to avoid the fatigue that is so often the season of merrymaking and enjoying? My best advice is to put yoga on your daily to do list and make it a part of your holiday tradition. Follow these simple steps, and enjoy a happy, yogic holiday.

1. Make time every day. While you may not have an hour to set aside every day, try to set aside 15 to 30 minutes to de-stress and center yourself through meditation. Scheduling this time into your day before it even begins is the best way to ensure that you will get to enjoy this time. Whether you need to complete your practice in the early morning or late evening, do not neglect this time. Spend this time breathing deeply, focusing, and centering yourself. Your practice is important. It is a part of you. I make sure to take some time every morning to meditate and center myself and have found it is a phenomenal start to my day.

2. Create a yoga sanctuary. During this time of year especially, our minds and bodies (let alone our houses) often become cluttered with the hustle and bustle. Make sure you take time to find your “sanctuary” within your home. Find a room in your home where you can separate yourself from noise and clutter. Dim the lights and light a few candles and relax into your practice. Consider writing in a journal reflecting on how you are feeling and listen to soothing playlists.

3. Let your practice overflow into your life. Nurturing yourself enables you to nurture those around you. So, be committed to your practice and let the peace you find there overspill into your holiday season. Showing your gratitude and thankfulness toward your family and friends is one of the most rewarding gifts of the holidays. Making gifts very personal to each person on your list is another great way to reflect on your relationships and to help others experience the peace and joy you have found in your practice. For our 1st anniversary my wife gave me a personalized piece of wall art that had a tree on it with out initials carved in it. She got this from a gift-giving site called RedEnvelope that has very customizable gifts for loving couples. This art still hangs in our yoga room and is a symbol of our bond and relationship. These types of gifts are the best to think about when trying to find something memorable for a loved one.

4. Maintain a healthy diet. While it is easy to overindulge during the holidays, overeating and being glutinous only adds more stress to your body. Be selective of what you indulge in (but do let yourself have a treat). Focus on the time spent together rather than just the food of the holidays.

While the holiday season is very much about giving to others, don’t forget to give back to yourself too. Listen to your body and maintain your practice throughout Thanksgiving and the rest of the holiday season, and see what a difference it makes in your holiday. Let your practice transcend your mat and enter your home and holiday.

Come visit Whole Life Yoga in Seattle, and check out Tracy Weber’s author page for information about the Downward Dog Mysteries series, available January 8, 2014.  MURDER STRIKES A POSE is available for preorder now from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Whole Life Yoga, and other retailers!

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