10 Yoga Tips For the Holidays

I have a good friend who hates the holidays. From mid-October to mid-January she is a regular Scrooge. Rather than see the holidays as an opportunity to have some fun, she sees them as additional burdens and chores that she is expected to do. This year she is committed to changing her mindset and allowing herself to enjoy some holiday pleasure.

The holidays certainly bring merriment and joy, but they can also bring added stress.  Here are a few ideas to help you stay healthy and happy this holiday season.

  1. RSVP selectively. You aren’t required to attend every party you are invited to. Between work, friends and family your social calendar can quickly become overloaded. When deciding on an invite ask yourself if you genuinely want to be at the event, or are you going out of obligation? Can that obligation be fulfilled in any other way? Perhaps lunch during the week or a coffee on the weekend.

  2. Maintain your normal routine as much as possible. Continue going to bed and waking up at your normal times. Too many late nights will create a sleep deprivation that can’t be fixed by sleeping in on the weekend. Add any new activities into your available time rather than cancelling regularly scheduled appointments. Something as simple as sticking to your normal shopping or laundry schedule will help alleviate the stress of feeling like there’s just not enough time to get everything done during the holiday season.

  3. Stay active. With the holiday foods, drinks and additional responsibilities it’s more important than ever to continue your yoga and exercise routine. Group classes usually see a drop in attendance during the holiday season so take advantage of the smaller classes and use the time to try out a different class or teacher. The holidays are also a fun time to sign up for a unique run/walk event such as a Turkey Trot or an Ugly Christmas Sweater Run. Your home practice is still important as well. Move the boxes and wrapping paper out of the way and roll out your yoga mat. Even a few rounds of sun salutations or a short meditation will help keep you focused and more relaxed during the busy season.

  4. Don’t let the shorter days get you down. Anywhere from 40-75% of people at any given time are deficient in vitamin D. The darker days of winter often make those deficiencies more prominent.  Adults need about 1000 units per day and those over 50 years old need 2000 units per day. Aside from sunlight, excellent sources of Vitamin D include salmon, mushrooms, eggs and cod liver oil. Your doctor can do a quick blood test to check your vitamin D levels before taking over-the-counter supplements.

  5. Speaking of sunlight, create your own with a therapy lamp. Also known as SAD lights for their use in combatting Seasonal Affective Disorder, these lights mimic natural outside light to boost your body’s natural energy. SAD lights come in a variety of price ranges for any budget.

  6. Clear your sinuses with a neti pot. A neti pot is a common tool used in Ayurveda to cleanse the sinuses through nasal irrigation. Another benefit of daily neti pot use is maintaining balance in the Kapha dosha. The Kapha dosha is related to a sluggish feeling often combined with heavy mucous and congestion. Using a neti pot first thing in the morning will help rinse away any excess mucous.The key to successful neti pot use is twofold: 1) tilt your head only slightly so the Eustachian tubes stay clear, and 2) say the letter “K” while you rinse. When you repeatedly say the letter K your throat closes and therefore none of the saline solution can run down the back of your throat causing gagging.

  7. Use essential oils. A few drops of tea tree oil added to a spoonful of honey can help ease cold and flu symptoms. Add peppermint oil to a warm compress to relieve chest congestion and cough. Lemon is excellent as a base oil for a make-your-own home cleaning spray. When purchasing essential oils, be sure to look for therapeutic grade oils only to ensure purity. 

  8. Give the gift of giving. This is the perfect time of year to give back to your community. Volunteering at a soup kitchen or adopting a local needy family will remind you of the blessings you have in your life. If you are a yoga teacher, consider offering free classes to anyone who makes a donation to Toys for Tots or a local charity of your classes choosing.

  9. If you will be traveling during the holidays, plan ahead for delays. The days immediately before and after a holiday are the busiest days to fly so expect long lines, delays and cranky travelers. Bring your ear buds and listen to a recorded meditation or find a spot to practice some gentle yoga stretches. Bring healthy snacks and plenty of water to keep you fueled while traveling as well.

  10. Stop and enjoy your surroundings. Don’t get so busy you forget to enjoy the season! Take a moment to watch the snow if you are lucky enough to live in an area where it snows. When hustling through the mall take a break from shopping and listen to the carolers performing. The sights, sounds and smells offer a great opportunity to stay present during the holiday rush. 

With holidays fast approaching, you might want to check out these tips for mindful eating from our own, Eva Norlyk Smith.

Meaningful resolutions are a great way to add joy to any holiday season; join yoga researcher and writer and long-time YogaU contributor, B Grace Bullock, for this important and transforming YogaU course.

Jennifer Williams Fields

Jennifer Williams-Fields is passionate about writing, yoga, traveling, public speaking and being a fabulous single momma to six super kids. Doing it all at one time, however, is her great struggle. She has been teaching yoga since 2005 and writing since she first picked up a crayon. Although her life is a sort of organized chaos, she loves every minute of the craziness and is grateful for all she’s learned along the way. Her first book “Creating A Joyful Life: The Lessons I Learned From Yoga and My Mom” is now available on Amazon. She has had her essays featured on Yahoo! and Dr. Oz The Good Life. She is a regular writer for Elephant Journal Magazine, Your Tango and YogaUOnline. See more from Jennifer at jenniferwilliamsfields.com

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