by: Alia Sebben
As a yoga teacher, practitioner & owner and operator of Amana Yoga in Boulder Colorado, my passion in life is to share ways to take your yoga and mindfulness practice off of the mat and make it applicable in your daily life. This concept could not be more crucial than it is right now as we enter into the busy holiday season!
I love this time of year. From the changing weather, getting to see family members that I wouldn't normally be able to see, to lots of fun parties and activities, this season is filled with joy and excitement. I come from a big, loud, Italian family - and the way we express love and hospitality is by making sure your belly is always full of rich and delicious food, and that you have a drink in your hand (which doesn’t always leave your feeling your absolute best). After college, I moved away from my family and as a natural introvert, I thought that spending my first post-college holidays with just a few close friends would bring about a more peaceful and calm experience. I very soon came to realize that no matter your immediate surroundings, the holidays have a tendency to throw us all a little off balance, regardless of your intentions to attend every Christmas party, or stay in and have a Hallmark movie marathon.
The season can bring up a myriad of issues that can effect your overall well-being - typical ones being digestion issues, weakened immune systems and general drops in energy. Whether you're feeling prone to stress and anxiety, or are managing a busy travel schedule while trying to avoid the extra treats of the season, there’s a strong chance being thrown out of your routine will cause some feelings of unease. Here are 7 tips to help you remain calm, collected and mindful throughout the rest of the holiday season.
Be present with the extra sweets! Enjoy every sip of wine, slowly taste every bite of that holiday cookie, and notice along the way when you've had enough. This can be challenging amongst the additional stimuli of lights, music and excited people, but take a moment to breathe, check in and do what’s right FOR YOU and your body.
This is a great rule of thumb anytime of the year, but aim to drink half of your body weight in ounces per day. Add in an additional 8 ounces for every adult beverage, cup of coffee, or sweaty workout! Being properly hydrated helps us sleep better, feel full faster, and continue to flush unwanted toxins out of our system - all essential to staying well during these crazed months.
Sit quietly with your eyes closed, bringing one hand to your heart and one hand to your low belly. Focus on breathing into the hand on your heart, then into the hand on your belly. Exhale completely, and repeat 10 times. Notice how you feel before and after. Make a point to do this at least once a day for the next few weeks, perhaps adding in a extra practice if you know you’re going to be having a particularly busy day!
While our reaction this time of year is generally to go into hibernation mode, bundle-up, breathe deep and get outside for some fresh (and perhaps slightly cold) air! Notice the change in color and scenery around you - the lights, the smells, feel your feet on the ground. Take a warm beverage with you, like tea or matcha, as to not let the cold settle in!
With all of the additional fun activities, as well as a change in weather- workouts can easily fall by the wayside this time of year. Try to fit in at least 30 minutes of exercise a few times week. Increasing your heart-rate, and feeling embodied can help you to not over-indulge as you’ll feel the effects of your consumption a little quicker. Perhaps check out one of my classes on Yoga Studio App (found on iTunes and Android)!
In the Western world, we are incredible "Do-ers" - and hot, fast yoga styles are all the hype. Winter is about balancing out of that style of yoga with a more quiet, restorative practice - as this is known as the Yin time of year. The focus is on who you are "Being" rather than what you are "Doing." I invite you to spend some time on your mat, rolling out your spine with some cat-cows, maybe under dim lighting or by candlelight. Take gentle seated twists, or simply lie onto your back, close your eyes and just move in any way that feels good.
This one especially applies to those spending time with family! Ram Dass, the spiritual teacher once said: “If you think you are enlightened, go and spend a week with your family.” Before heading into a family outing, create a gratitude guide by remembering all the things you love about the people you're about to see. After your family interaction, create some time for reflection and fill your Gratitude Journal with the joyful encounters and special moments of connection, focusing on the happy bits.
Perfection doesn’t exist, but it's powerful to remember you have the ability to create your experience (especially this time of year). And regardless of any prior negative holiday experiences, focusing on these 7 tips will help you go into the season with a clean slate. Namaste, and Happy Holidays!
Alia Sebben is the Founder of Amana Yoga, Downtown Boulders go-to Yoga Studio rooted in the 8-limbed philosophy for the Modern Day Mindful Practitioner. Alia is a teacher, entrepreneur, coach and content creator for Yoga Studio App.