Stress management

December 2012

As we enter the thick of the holiday season, most of us find ourselves flustered with the details of getting it together for our families and friends before the final finish of the year. As we busy ourselves with multiple list making, decorating, family obligations, cooking, cleaning, way too much shopping and worrying whether there’s still enough cash in the kitty for to cover it all, it’s easy to get overwhelmed and let stress take us over.

Luckily, yoga provides us with tools to pause and better manage the frenzy.

  • Breathe. Take a few long, smooth and deep breaths , gradually working to prolong your exhalations, which can create a physiological relaxation response. It’s always a good time to take a deep breath.
  • Pranayama. If you’re in need of a quick purging, practice lion’s breath. Inhale deeply, open your eyes and mouth wide, stick your tongue out and exhale loudly like a fire breathing dragon. A good time to practice is when you’re in the car, (hopefully when no one’s looking:))
  • Forward bends. Since forward bends calm the nervous system, if you’re in an appropriate place, move into standing forward bend, uttanasana, take a quick break in downward facing dog, adho mukha svanasana, or drop down to a child pose, balasana.
  • Meditate. Even when you don’t think you have time, take a few minutes to sit quietly. At first the mental lists may start to run across your forehead like a ticker tape. Instead of resisting the thoughts, or even more likely stand up and start getting to the list, first welcome those thoughts. Then allow them to continue on their way, having faith that by creating some mental space, those things will get done, more efficiently and with ease.
  • Twist. Squeeze out your holiday overindulgences by practicing twists. Even simple ones, like revolved belly pose, jathara parivartanasana or a seated twist like bharadvajasana, can help purge the toxins and help to expel some of our less than desirable choices during a weak or emotionally stressed moment.
  • Restore. When you’re feeling drained or depleted, integrate a restorative practice into your life. Practice poses like reclined bound angle pose, supta baddha konasana, or legs up the wall, viparita karani.

Finally, remember the original intention of the holidays: to bring us together and to remind us to be grateful for all the things in our lives that really matter but often take for granted… the people who you love and love you back, your friends who support you and give you strength to take on life’s challenges, the air that we breathe, the food we are blessed to eat and the clean water that we are able to drink.

I am thankful for all of you and this truly beautiful yoga community we have built together.

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