Today I’m here to talk about how to use your yogic tools to, not just survive, but THRIVE this holiday season.
As a yoga teacher I interact with tons of people all year round. One thing I’ve noticed is that, particularly around the holidays, so many people are stressed and unhappy. I am the opposite of that – I get really excited and dance around with my hat and my jingle bells like Will Ferrell in the movie Elf.
Today I want to share how you can use your yogic tools to connect with the holidays in a way that’s right for you, draw some boundaries, and choose to finish this year better than how you started.
Know your intention for this season
What is your intention for this month? What is your goal for this month?
My intention for the month of December is always to feel like a kid again, to feel full of joy. I am going to be hosting Christmas Eve for my extended family, which brings me so much of the joy I’m looking for. I cook everything myself, which is fun for me. I know, therefore, in order to be at my best and to really be happy, I need to be doing my practice. I need to be doing my meditation everyday.
Say no where you need to
When you know what your intention is, when you know what you need, you become aware of what you don’t need and you become aware of the things that you can say no to.
For someone like me, who needs my early mornings for myself and my students, and who needs a good amount of sleep to feel good, I say no to a lot of night time engagements. I say no to eating a lot of heavy food that doesn’t make me feel good, because I learned many, many years ago that it’s not worth waking up the next morning cranky and ineffective. I would rather wake up and be my best self.
For me, saying no and knowing where those boundaries are is a crucial element to being happy and saying yes to the things that are important to me.
It doesn’t matter what your your intention is. Maybe it’s just to be healthier this holiday season than you’ve been in the past. Maybe it is to strengthen your relationships. Maybe it is to not have a case of FOMO or keeping up with the Joneses but to just feel connected to what you need.
Once you get clear on what your intention is you can draw those lines in the sand. Your yoga and spiritual practices are what will help you get that all-important clarity.
For me, with wanting to feel like a kid again, I want to feel joyful. I want family time. I want the decorations. I want the cooking. I want all of that. Not only am I saying no to a lot of extra social engagements that I don’t need to have, I’m saying no to buying things that don’t really have a purpose in my life. I end up saying no to all the excess, really, so I can focus on what I do need. I also say no to all the extra work which isn’t crucial to be doing, so I can focus on what I love instead.
Don’t think of saying no as depriving yourself, please reframe it and recognize you’re really saying yes to something more. An enlightened no isn’t about what you’re turning away. It isn’t about what you are neglecting. It’s about what you’re nurturing. By saying no to things which don’t serve you, you’re saying yes to things which do.
Remember you don’t have to do what you’ve always done
In all my Christmas-y nerdiness, I love giving and receiving cards. I always do it.
This year, I started feeling a niggle that my time and my energy and my money could be better used – not because I don’t love the giving and receiving of cards, but there are just so many people on the planet who are suffering right now that it just didn’t have the same meaning to me.
I had to really check in. Are people going to be disappointed if I don’t send cards? Is this breaking the rules of tradition?
I ultimately decided they didn’t care, so I’ve chosen to send digital cards with a link to a charitable cause I’ve donated to instead (and an invitation to do the same). I want every action that I take, every bit of energy I expend this season to make a difference in the world as much as it can.
In saying no to something that I always did, I’m saying yes to something new. Maybe it will become a new tradition and maybe it won’t, but I’ve given myself permission to show up in a way that I feel is more effective and more supportive of walking the walk and talking the talk in the way that I want to.
Check in with yourself
It seems like such a small thing, to set these intentions and these boundaries, but it has such an impact.
I urge you to get your journal out, or even just a scrap piece of paper and write down what you want this month to be like. What do want this holiday season to be like? It’s not about how you start next year, it’s how you finish this one. How do you want to show up this last half of the year? Do you want to start 2018 feeling haggard and like you need a do-over? Do you want to start feeling like you’re in your A game and that you can bring a new level of you into the next phase of your life?
It’s not about doing the most. It’s not about saying yes to everything. It’s about saying yes to the things that have real meaning to you.
I have to give a shout out to fellow Ashtangi Peg Mulqueen from Ashtanga Dispatch – I recently saw her post a great reminder: the best gift you can give anyone is you, a fully present you, a fully engaged you. I thought that was so well put and articulate. That’s essentially what using your tools this holiday season allow you to do.
I would really like to encourage you to practice Satya, truthfulness. Check in with yourself constantly this month.
Are you being true to yourself or are you just being true to old habits or old holiday traditions that don’t serve you anymore? Are you just concerned with what other people might think or other’s belief systems?
This is the real work. You can’t check in with yourself and be truthful if your mind is unclear.
Get on your mat. Get on your meditation cushion this season. I always find it much easier to get through busy times knowing I have self-care booked in after the busy times. I’ve just opened up registration for my April 2018 retreat to Peru Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu, which is the most mind blowing, energizing, rejuvenating place. I can’t think of a better way to gift yourself something special this holiday season, knowing that it’s going to give back to you tenfold. If you would like to join me there, drop me a line.
Please just remember that you don’t have to shortchange what’s important to you. You don’t have to let your good habits fall by the wayside. You can stay true to your practice.