As we move into the holiday season, we can easily be swept up by the many obligations of the season.
We find ourselves shopping for gifts, visiting family and friends, indulging in holiday festivities and tending to long lists of chores. So in the midst of all this fury, challenge yourself to find equilibrium, to take care of yourself and to find the space and time to nurture yourself.
This year, choose any of the following seven practices to help yourself tune in to your mind and body!
Long line at the store?
Stop and Breathe. Mindful breathing elicits “the relaxation response,” which invokes the restorative functions of your body. As you breathe, visualize the path of your breath. Notice how it feels to inhale and exhale, notice where your body expands and contracts, and even notice that tiny pause between the inhales and exhales. Savor the ease that arises.
Sitting in holiday traffic?
Slow down and listen to your mind. Ask yourself: What is the posture of your mind, right now? Is it a position worthwhile maintaining, a stance you wish to stand by? Discover the sweetness inside when you slow down and listen. If you want to attract more abundance, ease and manifest your reality as a positive, then transform every ‘no’ into a ‘yes’ and live the difference. “Our life is shaped by our mind; we become what we think.” ~Buddha
Tensing up while scrolling through your newsfeed?
Choose to turn off the chatter. Turn your attention to the sensations you are feeling in your body. Just bring your awareness there and breathe until the ease of body and mind returns. Try to treat yourself to silence. “When you spend time in silence, you start to learn that you don’t need to react to all the waves of things arising and passing but just to allow space for the unfolding of life. Most people tap into a deep well of ease and peace.” Pema Chodron
Overwhelmed by your to-do list?
Practice mindful movements. Something as simple as standing evenly on your two feet while washing the dishes can help you reconnect with yourself. Pay attention to the way the water flows and the soap bubbles grow, to the sensations on your skin. Through mindful practices, you gain an ability to see the wonder of life more easily, more often, no matter what it is and even regardless if you like it or not. “The only moment that never ends is now. The most important activity you are doing is the one you are doing now. The most important people are the ones you are with now. The most important way to create the future is to be present now.” ~Deepak Chopra
Feeling stiff from the cold, or bloated from holiday meals?
Practice asana. Even if you only have 15 minutes, doing yoga poses can sharpen your senses, draw your mind back into the body and anchor your awareness in the ever-calm, ever-clear inner witness. Practicing yoga also helps to reduce muscle tension and deactivate the stress response. Yoga is the means of yoking your awareness to the deep rhythms that heal and integrate your inner world with the outer world. “If you practice yoga every day with perseverance you will be able to face the turmoil of life with steadiness and maturity.” B.K.S. Iyngar
Annoyed by holiday guests?
Honor the light within all beings. This is not always easy when you are listening to views that don’t jive with your own. I like to remember one of my favorite Sufi poems. “This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor…Welcome and entertain them all. Treat each guest honorably. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond.” ― Rumi
Just feeling like the Scrooge?
Gratitude is a way of deeply appreciating the full spectrum of life-the good and the bad, the joy and the suffering. Yoga is a practice that opens the gateway into the wellspring of gratitude that resides with you. Connect with yourself, with nature and with those around you. Anything that gives you time and space to appreciate the beauty around you will fill you with inspiration, energy and light.
May the holiday season challenge you to chose those thoughts and actions that serve you best.
May all the changes you experience at this time be benevolent and filled with grace.
May you usher in good health and well-being, supportive communities, and loving kindness for all.
Marga Cava, PhD, E-RYT 200, started practicing yoga in high school, and it quickly became an integral part of her life. While studying Romance languages and living abroad, she studied with Iyengar masters and Buddhist and Tantric philosophers. After returning to the U.S., Marga began studying Anusara yoga with John Friend, Emily Huresky, Regina Grassia, and others. Her gurus and their method inspired her to begin teaching in 1999. More recently, Marga completed Wisdom Warrior Teacher Training with Desirée Rumbaugh and Karen Church. Marga bows in gratitude to all her teachers (family and friends) that have guided her on her journey. As a Registered Yoga Alliance and Anusara-inspired teacher, Marga strives to facilitate a deeper understanding of bio-mechanical alignment and help her students tap into their inner wisdom and true light. Now, as co-founder of Align Amar Yoga, yoga instructor and high school teacher, she hopes to enrich her community by offering all the practice of yoga, meditation, and mindful living.[/box]
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