With Christmas bearing down on us like an express train, I’m looking towards the holiday festivities with excitement and trepidation. As sure as the sky is blue, there will be moments over the next two weeks when I feel like I’m going to lose my mind. And since the lessons I learn on the yoga mat are a continual source of inspiration for my life off the mat, I thought I’d turn to my yoga practice for some tips on getting through the holidays with as much joy and peace I can muster.
Here are three elements of my yoga practice that I intend to put to good use:
There are many ways we can “let go” during the holidays. By letting go I’m not talking about drinking that extra rum and egg nog or indulging in that extra slice of fruit cake. I’m talking about letting go of expectations.
I’ve learned from experience that whenever I expect a family event to be a certain way, it’s more than certain that it will go any other way than the way I “expected”. Having young kids means embracing the unexpected. Because when we look at the excitement of the holidays, the upending our regular schedules, and extended time in close quarters with lots of family members, it is a perfect storm of unexpected events.
By repeating the mantra, “let go,” I plan to remind myself to let go of the unimportant stuff, of the stuff beyond my control. I figure, the more I’m able to let go of my expectations over the holidays, the easier it will be on my stress levels.
Have you ever noticed that during a time of year when we’re supposed to be celebrating the spirit of giving, while spreading kindness and good cheer, tensions seem to be at their highest?
Fights over parking spaces at the mall or snarky comments made over Christmas dinner don’t just happen in the movies. I’m sure we’ve all experienced moments of stress or have been in uncomfortable situations at some point in our holiday history.
If I can simply take a few deep breaths, I’m less likely to react emotionally to highly charged situations. Breathing deeply gives us a chance to gain perspective, and sometimes even walk away. It’s really hard to be angry when I’m breathing deeply. By reminding myself to breathe, I’m hoping to remain calm and steady even amidst the chaos.
Practice Gratitude and Compassion
Let’s face it. There will be moments of pure happiness throughout the holidays and there will be moments when our patience and/or tempers are put to the ultimate test.
Through these extremes, a practice of gratitude and compassion allows us to approach all situations with an open and kind heart. Whether we’re dealing with a strained relationship, a ridiculously inappropriate gift or a toddler’s tantrum over Christmas brunch, being conscious of what we have to be thankful for is a great way to stay grounded.
By acknowledging all that I have to be thankful for, and cultivating compassion, I hope to remain conscious of the “bigger picture” and maintain a generous heart.
As I head into the Christmas celebrations, I’m hoping that letting go, breathing and practicing gratitude and compassion will help keep the true spirit of Christmas alive in our household. Or, at the very least, provide me with a little inner peace.
What are your tips for keeping calm throughout the holidays?