Mindful Meditation & Yoga Tips for a Calm(‘ish) Holiday Season

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We are entering the busiest time of year, where we are running around, preparing family meals, buying gifts, hosting holiday parties and seeing friends and family.  Stress levels reach high levels, but what can you do to stay calm and enjoy this wonderful time of year?

BE PRESENT:  As we are buzzing around with to-do lists, are we present? It’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season. Look around, most people aren’t even breathing in the most beneficial manner, creating more stress in the body. Take a minute. Take a breath in through your nose for about 4 seconds and out through your mouth for 8 seconds. When you double your exhalation, you trick your parasympathetic system (rest and digest, the opposite of fight or flight) into relaxing in half of the time it would normally take. Let your shoulders slide down your back, away from your ears. Inhale as you imagine the crown of your head lengthening your spine and exhale as you soften the eye area, jawline, shoulders and chest. If you take a moment to breathe and soften the muscles of your face, you may actually accomplish more and feel better while doing it! 

SET AN INTENTION: It’s too easy to get caught up in all there is to do. But why are you doing it? Yes, we do it every year, but is there something mindful that you can bring to the table this time? Maybe it’s to connect with your family and loved ones.  A great intention is to be grateful. Take a moment to take an inventory of what you are grateful for in that moment.  Take time to feel what gratitude feels like in your mind, heart and body. Train your thoughts to focus on that feeling rather than what might be missing this year. 

YOGA POSE TO UNWIND: This time of year, we may be VERY tired but sleep may be elusive because of holiday stress.  Bridge is a great posture. It is calming, restorative and a great preparation for sleep. Begin on your back. Bend your knees and have your feet on the ground. Let your fingertips touch the backs of your heels. You may take a yoga block or a pillow and as you lift up your hips, slide your prop behind your backside. Rest your backside on the block or pillow and breathe into the front line of your body.  Create space between your chin and your chest, so that your throat is not constricted or crunched down. Imagine your breath like a wave. The inhale starts at the feet, draw it up to your chest, throat and past your hair line. Pause for a moment. Exhale through your nose or mouth and allow that breath to wash over the front line of your body towards your toes. Pause and repeat 8-15 more times. 

As you’re bustling around buying a hostess gift while simultaneously making a dessert and having every gift wrapped, all before noon, remember to breathe and take a moment or two for yourself to stay grounded, sane and keep the true meaning of the holiday season close to your heart!

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