The holiday season can be highly stressful. Instead of enjoying this time with loved ones, we sometimes get overwhelmed by our endless to-do lists and social obligations. Fortunately, the practice of yoga teaches us skills to help manage our anxiety so we can enjoy the holidays.
Set your intention.
At the beginning of class, yoga teachers encourage students to determine what they need from their practice and give themselves permission to receive it. When you start your day, take a moment to ask yourself what you truly need. Do you need more self-care? Are you in need of some time alone? Do you need to connect with someone? Set the intention to meet your needs first so you can show up more fully in your relationships with others.
Be aware of your breathing.
Yoga teaches that our breath is a powerful tool we can use to relax the body and calm the mind. Notice if you’re tensing your shoulders or taking shallow breaths. Pause and take a few deep mindful breaths. Feel the sensation of the air flowing in and out plus the movement of your chest and belly as you breathe. Being aware of the breath helps us stay present so we’re not carried away by the endless chatter inside our heads and our fluctuating emotions.
Practice relaxing poses and stretches.
In addition to mindful breathing, conscious movement of the body in yoga can decrease stress and promote relaxation. After just a few minutes of yoga poses and stretches, you will likely be more mentally clear and emotionally balanced. Whenever possible, take time to practice before entering any potentially triggering situation, such as a party with a roomful of strangers or a nerve-wracking dinner with family members.
The benefits of yoga go beyond strength and flexibility of the body. The skills we develop on our mat can help us relieve stress and face challenges with more ease. Most importantly, yoga reminds us to be thankful for the present moment. This sense of gratitude enables us to truly appreciate all our blessings, not only during the holidays, but all year round.