These days, holidays can be a real handful to manage. On top of all the usual demands of busy modern life, the holidays add in shopping for gifts, decorating the home, preparing for parties, organizing upcoming trips, and visiting our families. For most folks, the winter weather isn’t much help either, but even our California sunshine can’t prevent the holiday season from being a hectic and often stressful time. In fact, for many people the holidays are the time that their cortisol (i.e., stress hormone) levels peak. With all the additional tasks and events, it can be hard even to eat healthy meals or get enough rest.
One of the best things we can do to release that excess stress is to exercise. Although any form of physical activity is helpful, practicing yoga is an especially effective way to relieve your holiday stress.
Yoga is an ideal form of stress relief because it is more than just exercise. Indeed, yoga is uniquely suited to help us ground ourselves when we need stability the most. Yoga helps us unite and calm our mind, body, and spirit. When we practice yoga, we rejuvenate our bodies and unlock the energy we need in trying times. The benefits of yoga go beyond the purely physical. Practicing yoga also helps us cleanse ourselves of the negative emotions that inevitably accumulate at holiday time. It is easy to get caught up in the many stresses of the season. It is also easy to forget that it is impossible to offer our best to loved ones if we allow ourselves to become frustrated, angry, or depressed. The calmer and happier we feel, the better we can share and communicate with compassion. By practicing yoga, we can center ourselves and be more present to enjoy the blessings of friends and family. Practicing yoga is a great way to cultivate your inner peace and share it with the people who matter most to you.
It is easy to allow increased responsibilities to disrupt our normal routines during the holidays. The reality, however, is that those are the times when it is the most important to continue our essential self care. While the holidays are always a time-management challenge, making the time to continue your yoga practice will help you find strength and serenity that can be in short supply over the holidays. It is also important to be able to achieve balance in life. While we all must juggle many responsibilities and obligations, we sometimes forget that we need to include time for ourselves in that mix. An hour of yoga won’t decorate the holiday cookies or pick up your in-laws at the airport but making the time to practice is an investment in your happiness — and maybe sanity!
We all have our own preferences for the types of yoga that we practice. If you feel your best after strenuous, high-intensity classes, keep going to them this season. That said, some yoga styles can be especially well suited for the holidays. Classes such as restorative, Iyengar, kundalini, and hatha yoga can help you nurture your inner self as much as your outer. Yoga can be excellent for improving flexibility, but during the holidays the mental and spiritual flexibility yoga offers is just as important as the physical. Relaxation can be the best medicine, and sometimes a practice with a more interior focus can be just the ticket to releasing the stress and anxiety that can pile up during busy times.
Another reason to stay consistent with our yoga practices during the holidays is that doing so helps us carry our practice through into the new year. With all the demands on our time and attention, it is tempting to skip a class here or there. While that’s certainly understandable, missing a day or two can turn all too easily into missing a week or two. Missing a week or two can turn into missing a month or two. Missing a month or two…well, let’s not go there! The point is that it is so much easier to sustain your practice than to re-establish it after you take a break. Maintaining the continuity of your practice over the holidays also helps you to keep yourself centered on an even emotional keel as you transition from wrapping up one year to jumping into the next. Keeping up your familiar and supportive yoga practice can be a true blessing in a time when so much else is chaotic and in flux.
The holiday season is an especially important time to practice yoga. For many people, there is no time in which we need yoga more. Fortunately, it is also a time when we can get the most from doing our yoga practice. By increasing your energy, improving your mood, and balancing your spirit while reducing your stress and flushing negativity, practicing your yoga during the holidays can be the key to enjoying the season to its fullest. Remember, holiday yoga means happy holidays!
Join Radka and Lisa on December 7th at 2pm for their Remedies for Holiday Stress Relief.
This post was written by Radka Holisova