With Christmas being anything but normal this year, it’s important that we keep upbeat.
Back in March many of us thought that we would go into lockdown and come out the other side and back to normality. But eight months later this is very clearly not the case.
Whether it’s down to government mishandling or not, this pandemic is still affecting every aspect of our lives.
With this continued uncertainty, and many of us facing a quiet and potentially lonely Christmas, how can yoga help to boost our positivity levels?
Yoga and Positivity
Just because you practice yoga doesn’t mean you’re beaming from ear to ear all day long. In fact, sometimes yoga can make us feel worse.
Bear with me…this is because yoga acts as a mirror that shows us how we’re truly feeling. Sometimes emotions that we’ve been repressing can surface during a yoga session, for example, after a backbend class.
But once we’re aware of how we’re feeling, we can do something about it. “The nature of yoga is to shine the light of awareness into the darkest corners of the body.” says yoga teacher, Jason Crandell.
But the key to attaining yoga’s benefits is practice. And the Christmas holidays can present even more hurdles to practicing than usual. So, how can we access the power of yoga when the whole family is in one house together?
Fitting in a Yoga Practice
In the medieval yoga text, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika, it states:
One who practices hatha-yoga should live alone in a small monastery, situated a bow’s length away from rocks, water, and fire, in a virtuous, well-ruled kingdom, which is prosperous and free of disturbances.
Well, we can rule out the ‘virtuous, well-ruled kingdom’ for starters…
And for most modern-day practitioners of yoga, ‘free of disturbances’ is also virtually impossible. You’re lucky if you can find time to do five minutes of uninterrupted practice next to the bed.
But if we can’t find a free hour to set aside, does this mean that we shouldn’t bother at all?
Definitely not! Instead of thinking that unless we can find our monastery alternative, we shouldn’t bother, let’s think about how to get creative with our practice.
Fitting Yoga Around our Lives
There are lots of ways to fit a yoga practice into our lives. When it comes to the holidays it’s likely the last thing you want to do is set your alarm. So don’t! Enjoy your lie in (small kids/cats/dogs allowing).
There are lots of ways that we can build yoga poses into our daily life, without having to do a set practice.
‘Waiting for the Kettle to Boil’ Practice
This standing sequence is great for stretching out the legs first thing in the morning.
- Start by doing Ardha uttanasana (half forward fold) with your hands shoulder-width apart on the kitchen work surface. Stretch the outer hips back and make sure the trunk is parallel to the floor.
- Then open up the groins in Vrksasana (tree pose), using the hands on the work surface to help you balance.
- Now move to Trikonasana (triangle pose) with the back of the body to the fridge door or cupboard door. Use the support behind you to turn and lift the trunk up.
- Then while your tea is brewing, stretch out the hamstrings with a quick Utthita hasta padangustasana (Extended hand to big toe pose) with your heel up on the work surface, or a chair if that’s too high.
‘Watching a Christmas Movie’ Practice
Get into your seated postures while making your way through a box of tissues in front of a schmaltzy Christmas movie.
- Make sure you’re not going to block anyone’s view, and then sit in Virasana (hero pose) with support under the buttocks if needed. Stretch out the upper back by stretching the arms up in Urdhva baddanguliyasana (interlocked fingers).
- Change to Baddha Konasana (bound angle pose) when your feet start to go numb.
- Then move to Upavista Konasana (Wide-angled seated pose), stretching the legs wider and wider.
- Bend one leg in to Janu Sirsasana (Head to knee pose), and repeat on the other side.
- Now sit in half padmasana (half lotus pose) and change sides.
- If you can move to full padmasana, repeating on the other side.
- If you fancy showing off, throw in a Tolasana (Arm balance in Padmasana), but you might want to pause the movie for full appreciation from your family members.
‘While Getting Ready for (Not) Going Out’ Practice
This may be a depressing topic, but you might get dressed up, even if it’s just for the family photo on Christmas day.
- Bend over into Uttanasana (standing forward fold) while drying your hair – especially good for getting maximum hair volume.
- Practice balancing on one leg, or slowly lifting up into Tadasana 2 (Standing on tiptoes) while brushing your teeth.
- Stretch your shoulders in Gomukhasana (cow face pose) as you apply deodorant (you’d have to do it before gripping the hands behind the back…)
- Open the chest and prepare for zipping your dress up by putting your hands into Paschima namaskarasana (hands behind the back in prayer pose).
‘Jobs Round the House’ Practice
These poses can be done ad hoc as you do your minimal housework to avoid full bombsite mode by the end of the festivities.
- Take a break from dusting to do Ardha Chandrasana (half moon pose) while holding onto the mantelpiece.
- Get up into Sirsasana (headstand) for a bird’s eye view of all the bits of fluff/crumbs that have collected under the sofa.
- Come into Prasarita Padottanasana (wide-legged forward bend) to put the dirty laundry into the washing machine.
Obviously, if you have time to fit in an uninterrupted practice, that’s probably preferable. But being creative with your yoga practice means that we incorporate yoga into the fabric of our lives, and with it, a resilience to whatever 2021 can throw at us!