Holiday Yoga: 5 Tips for Healthy Holidays

A holiday yoga celebration of a group of happy friends having Christmas dinner together

Article At A Glance

The holidays are a special time to celebrate with family and friends, but it’s important to leave time for yourself, too! Read on to discover 5 tips for a balanced, yoga-filled holiday season.

I’ll start out with the assumption that all good yoga practitioners will practice moderation during the holidays. But then I’ll add a dose of reality. It’s easy to slip, and honestly, it’s probably okay once in a while.

My yoga and meditation teacher, Pujari Keays, used to teach that it’s good to give yourself a “goop day” once in a while. This means that it’s okay to slip off your usual healthy regimen sometimes. It’s not what you do once in a while, he says, it’s what you do most of the time that determines your overall health. Plus, stressing out over your food is probably not healthy for digestion, or for your mental health.

That said, the holidays are a time when it’s easy for a goop day to turn into a goop week, or even longer. Feeling guilty about this is not helpful. It’s really okay once in a while. But the sugar highs and crashes, and overeating, in general, may start to sap your energy. If you normally eat healthily, you may even feel the aftereffects more acutely than someone who’s used to eating lots of rich, sweet foods.

5 Tips for Healthy Yoga-Filled Holidays

Celebrate with friends and family, but do take some time out to take care of yourself too. Here are some ideas:

1. Practice Yoga Over the Holidays

A woman practicing holiday yoga next to a child, the woman sits in Easy Pose with her eyes closed and smiling

Especially if you’re traveling, this can be a challenge. But see if you can carve out a time for some practice, or take a class. Even 15 minutes can revitalize you.

2. Drink Water

Especially if you’re drinking more alcohol than usual, it’s important to keep yourself hydrated. It’s easy to forget to drink water when the weather is cold, but it’s important to keep up your hydration habits in the winter, especially if you’re indulging in more food and drink than usual. Drinking lots of water is the most efficient way to detoxify your body.

3. Eat Well the Rest of the Day

Yoga friends toasting and sharing a meal at a holiday yoga party

If you know you’re going to be attending a party where there’s likely to be heavy sugar or rich foods, make sure you fill up on healthy stuff for your other meals. Eat lots of veggies and if you can, make yourself a protein drink with some phytonutrient-rich berries. If you normally take supplements, make sure you continue these during the holidays.

4. Don’t Stress Out Over Your Lapses

Eating too many Christmas cookies may indeed make you feel less than optimal, but it does no good to beat yourself up for it. Chastising yourself is not helpful. Do notice how overindulgence makes your body feel. That’s good information that might help you adjust your choices later on.

5. Practice Supta Baddhakonasana In Your Holiday Yoga Sequence

Young woman practicing yoga, lying in Reclined Butterfly, supta baddha konasana pose during relaxed holiday yoga session

There’s nothing like a reclining restorative pose to help regenerate your energies. Bound Supta Baddhakonasana (Supine Bound Angle) can also help unwind abdominal cramping and soothe a sour stomach.

  1. Sit in Baddha Konasana on a soft surface. You can spread out a yoga mat or a blanket.
  2. Take a yoga strap and wrap it around the back of your pelvis, just below your waist.
  3. Feed your strap over your thighs and ankles and under your feet.
  4. Buckle your strap and pull it tight—but not too tight. You should feel some support from the strap to sit up straight, but make sure it’s not so tight as to be uncomfortable. Take care to position the buckle so that it’s not digging into your ankle or thigh.
  5. Lean back onto your hands and point your tailbone toward your heels. Take a few breaths here.
  6. Relax down onto your elbows. Take a breath or two before lying all the way back.
  7. You can also lie on a yoga bolster or pillow if you like.
  8. If your knees or inner thighs are uncomfortable, you can place yoga blocks under your knees. If you’re traveling and don’t have blocks, roll up some blankets or towels and wedge them under your thighs.
  9. Breathe deeply into your abdomen, allowing it to expand as you inhale and to relax as you exhale.
  10. Stay in Supta Baddhakonasana for 3-5 minutes or longer. When you’re ready to come out of it, if your buckle is accessible, loosen your strap. Then lift your knees and place the soles of your feet on the floor. If your buckle isn’t accessible, draw your legs in toward you, remove the strap from around your ankles and feet, and then place the soles of your feet on the floor.

Reprinted with permission from the Hugger Mugger Yoga blog.

Charlotte Bell.2Charlotte Bell began practicing yoga in 1982 and began teaching in 1986. She was certified by B.K.S. Iyengar in 1989 following a trip to Pune. In 1986, she began practicing Insight Meditation with her mentors Pujari and Abhilasha Keays. Her asana classes blend mindfulness with physical movement. Charlotte writes a column for Catalyst Magazine and serves as editor for Yoga U Online. She is the author of two books: Mindful Yoga, Mindful Life and Yoga for Meditators, both published by Rodmell Press. She also edits Hugger Mugger Yoga Products¹ blog and is a founding board member for GreenTREE Yoga, a non-profit that brings yoga to underserved populations. A lifelong musician, she plays oboe and English horn in the Salt Lake Symphony and the folk sextet Red Rock Rondo whose 2010 PBS music special won two Emmys.

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