It’s that time again: Holidays bring their own mix of “yay!” and “yikes!” How do you care for yourself and hold energy for what matters? Make a plan, and set your intention for practice during this season. Yoga and mindfulness can help, and here are five ideas for staying jolly and bright:
1. Write a joy list. This is the seed of your self-care plan. Take one minute right now, to brainstorm a list of what you enjoy. Simple or very involved; exuberant or quiet. What keeps you sane, healthy, and helps you relax? Free-write this list, and then go back and choose two things that you’ll remember to do for yourself in the next couple of weeks. (Here are some ideas, many from my students, to get you started: lie down, take a bath, walk, meditate, foot rub, sing, yoga, make soup, share a meal, do less, laugh, bike, read, music, cook, get enough sleep, hang out with the dog.) Remember, no need to do everything! It’s not another “to do” list, but rather a do-nothing list! Consider what will nourish you.
2. Practice mindfulness, by being attentive with the body. Pause, wherever you are, and breathe. Standing in line (at the store, the airport, wherever you are…) is a great time to practice feeling your feet, your posture and to pay attention to your breathing. Let the corners of the mouth turn up slightly, and add a smile. Eating mindfully, by purposely bringing all the senses and gratitude to each bite, can add joy to a meal. Slow it down to enjoy the food and company. Pause, and feel the breath, sensing into the body.
3. For frazzle and stress, emphasize yoga practices to rest and digest. Twists, forward bends, and restorative poses (including restorative inversions) will make space for healthy digestion and immunity, and a calm head. If you’re feeling more holiday blues than frazzle, allow your feelings some room. At the same time, dullness or lethargy may call you towards building energy with standing poses, slow salutations, back bending, or energizing pranayama. Make a list of your 3 favorite poses, and then add to the list a long savasana (final resting pose).
4. When traveling, get creative. Desperate hours in an airport call for creative measures. Sitting for long hours as a passenger in a plane, car, or train, is a good time to engage movements of the spine. Arch and curl, front to back (watch out for that tray table!). Twist right, twist left. Side bend right, side bend left (watch out for the person in the seat next to you!). Take a walk up and down the aisles or around the terminal, every 15-20 minutes. Listen to a dharma talk. Hotel room chairs = yoga props! Visualize where, when & how you can allow relaxation and practice. We can be yoga, everywhere.
5. Be generous, to yourself. Consider yourself among the beneficiaries of your service, gifts, and other giving this season. What actions or thoughts feel generous to you? How can you give in a way that feels reasonable and also allows you to receive? How does giving at this time reflect your purpose in service, donations, or gift-giving throughout the year? Generosity toward ourselves and others may release stress, opening up into possibility and connection.
Happy holidays to you.