I love the holidays – the decorations, the parties, ugly Christmas sweaters, all of it. What I DON’T like is the insanity that comes along with the festivities. My life is busy enough the other 11 months of the year, and sometimes December can make me feel like a hamster on an out-of-control wheel, holding on for dear life.
I know I’m not alone. Class attendance is always lower this time of year, and I often see my students racing around, apologizing that they don’t have time for yoga right now, but they’ll be back after the holidays. I reassure them that they can always come back, but if I have a little more time I explain why yoga is more important now than ever.
Yoga Aids Digestion And Releases Toxins
Along with parties, decorations and sweaters, the holiday season brings excessive eating and drinking. Both forward and backward bends and twists stimulate the circulatory system and digestive organs, especially when accompanied by deep breathing (pranayama). The twists first compress the organs, “wringing out” the blood filled with toxins. When the twist is released, freshly oxygenated blood flows through the organs.
No matter what type of yoga you practice, stress relief will be a benefit. From vinyasa flow or power yoga, which get your heart pumping and endorphins rushing; to yin or restorative yoga, with quiet, inward focus on calm, you can’t help but leave the studio at least a little (hopefully much) more relaxed than when you started.
Brings You Into The Present
In the words of Lao Tzu, “If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.” Especially at this time of year, we can get dragged down by the weight of our past and our worries about the future – so much so that we lose the present. During savasana, I encourage my students to close their eyes and listen to the breath moving inside their bodies, saying silently “breathing in” and “breathing out”. How often do you spend hours (or days?) anticipating an event, only for it to fly by so fast that you barely remember anything? Learn to feel, appreciate and live in all of your moments.
Whether or not you celebrate a religious holiday at this time of year, everyone gets caught up in the frenzy of the season. But that doesn’t – and shouldn’t – mean that your yoga practice (or any other healthy practice) should get tossed out the window until January! Make it a priority, put it on your calendar, plan a “yoga date” with someone, or any other way to hold yourself accountable. Not only will you feel better and healthier, you will enjoy yourself and all of the activities even more. Not to mention you'll ROCK that hot Christmas sweater.