5 Yoga Tips for Stress Free Holidays

photo1. Focus on What Matters Most (Dharana)
The holidays always seem to be filled to capacity and it is easy to get overwhelmed. Lovingly say no to excessive activities, and preserve the joy in what you say yes to.  Spend quiet time with your family or friends discussing what is important and meaningful to all of you. What is the simplest, most authentic, most heart centered use of your time and attention? Prioritize that, and let go of the rest.

2. Manage Your Energy (Pranayama)
Our life energy is precious and we are in charge of how we utilize it. If people or activities are draining you, remove yourself temporarily and take a breathing break. If the traffic or shopping lines have you frustrated, take a pause to focus on deep full inhales, and slow releasing exhales. Set good personal boundaries to protect your energy reserves for what matters most.

3. Embrace Simplicity (Saucha)
Cultural influences of consumerism and indulgence are strong around the holidays, so its challenging as modern householder yogis to choose simplicity. But we don’t have to get swept away in the tide of  celebrating through material goods. Try enjoying the basics again, like sitting under the tree, relaxing with the twinkling lights. Offer free hugs wherever you go. Choose to do less, buy less, expect less. By doing so, we step off the treadmill of consumerism and back to the foundation of celebrating the holiness within the holidays.

4. Practice Contentment (Santosha)
Release attachment to how you think things ‘should be’ and go with the flow. Be prepared to cancel plans if obstacles present themselves or the kids are melting down. Be content and fully present with the activity at hand rather than already anticipating what’s next. To be truly grateful for and fully absorbed in one thing at a time, brings our hearts ease, our minds release, and our bodies rest.

5. Remember Devotion (Ishwara Pranidhana)

Take some time to reflect upon what is holy to you this holiday season. However you celebrate the Divine, bring this devotion into all your chosen activities. Choose to offer love to everyone you encounter (even difficult family members).

6. Try Meditation (Dhyana)
Just stop. Sit or stand completely still for five minutes and focus on deep, slow, belly breathing. Allow all thought and feelings to pass by like shoppers in the mall. Tune into your heart and rest. Then make all your choices ones of simple joy and deep devotion and you will experience the peace of truly “holy days.”

Read more in my book True Yoga: Practicing with the Yoga Sutras for Happiness and Spiritual Fulfillment.