Christmas – that wonderful season when even the most dedicated yogi struggles to get quality time on their mat. But what can be done when events conspire to disturb a yogi’s path to inner peace? Maybe it is time to take practice off the mat and into the glorious chaos that is the festive season. And here’s how…
Obviously, meditation and śavāsana spring to mind here but let’s be a bit more adventurous. Bālāsana (child’s pose) and any poses wherein you lie on your back are perfect for Bed Yoga. Push away those pillows and try pavanmuktāsana (wind relieving pose) with one or both knees to the chest. In supta badha konasana (reclined bound angle pose) you can explore different ranges of knee flexion that move your feet closer to or away from your groin. Look for the positions that give that a sweet stretch that eases as you relax into the pose.
Then there are all the versions of supine twists (knee rolling) to explore. Try stacking your feet or keeping both on the floor. Alternatively, place one ankle on the other knee in sleeping pigeon as you roll your legs side to side – this gives such a lovely stretch to your hips and lower back. Remember to keep the raised knee pushing away from your body as you move to get the most from this version. You also have the option of rolling your knees with the breath – perfect to wake up the body first thing – or holding a sustained position for a few breaths. For the sustained stretch – try moving the pelvis a little to one side before you roll your knees the other way. Notice how this changes the stretch.
And Bed Yoga is not just for bedtime…try a few minutes before you get up. Or to wake you up before you go out. Or maybe after a long journey. Just when you need it, really!
Many of us will eat more during the festive season. When we eat with others, the conversation flows and it is too easy to shovel food in! Eating becomes un-mindful. Try taking a few moments to focus on your food before you tuck in. Notice the smells and colours of the food, the textures and tastes. Notice whether you are hungry or not. This alone may mean that you eat only what your body needs rather than overeating. Simply complimenting the cook on the meal helps keep eating mindful.
No time for pranayama practice? How about a few deep breaths as your espresso brews or your cappuccino cools? Some
belly breaths as the tea steeps or the kettle boils? The possibilities are endless! Even staying in the loo for a few extra minutes to breathe will reap rewards. Did you know that simply deepening and slowing our breathing stimulates the calming side of the nervous system and may be just what you need? These little breaths will help manage seasonal stresses.
Balance while the Brussels Boil
Spending time in the kitchen? Then you have the perfect time to practice balances. Try standing in vrksāsana (tree) as you wash up or check the brussel sprouts. Play with stretching one leg back behind you as you reach into the cupboards – and before you know it, you are in virabhadrāsana 3! Maybe channel your inner natarājāsana (dancer) as you reach to decorate the tree. Practice, then decorate, then repeat!
Yoga on the Go
This is yoga for places where there is no room to swing a cat! A standing sun salute variation is perfect for small rooms, car parks, airports. Literally anywhere! Here’s how:
- Start in Tadasana (mountain pose) and take a few moments to become present and centered
- Inhale to raise arms overhead into ūrdhva hasāsana then exhale into uttāsana (forward fold)
- Inhale to lift chest and slide finger tips up shins to knee level then exhale and slide hands down the calves into uttanāsana again
- Inhale back to ūrdhva hasāsana, then exhale back to tadāsana.
- Repeat as many times as feels good!
During this holiday season, practice being kind to yourself. Remember that even a few minutes is still valuable practice. You are still a good yogi if you can’t get to your mat for a few days. Enjoy the season yogi 🙂