The holidays: Everyone’s favorite time to relax and reflect upon the year behind us. Or…maybe not.
The winter holiday season usually means a time of frantic decoration, overeating at parties, endless shopping and exhausting travel. Overactivity, especially during the vata season of the year, causes imbalance that leads to illness, fatigue and the customary New Year’s resolutions to regain health. But just because it is that way for some, it doesn’t have to be the case for you.
What if you could make this time of year about spiritual growth, meditation and whole-being health? It’s possible – all you need is a plan and a toolkit. We’ve got both covered for you here. Using the powerful guidance of Ayurveda and Yoga, you can have a peaceful winter season and avoid the highs and lows that come with holiday stress.
Hale Pule's Thriving through the Holidays Toolkit
1. Breathe in, breathe out. During stressful times, look to your breath as a teacher. Are you holding it? Are your exhales and inhales different lengths? Tune into your breath at least once daily with pranayama followed by a simple meditation. Even a short, daily practice for 10 minutes will bring greater clarity and peace of mind. Throughout the day, use aromatherapy to center your nervous system and calm your breath (try our Peace blend). Place a few drops in a diffuser or rub a bit on your sixth chakra (just above and between the eyebrows). Breathe in peace, breathe out discomfort.
2. Practice letting go. It’s okay to say “no,” even during the holidays. The most important person to take care of in your life is you – don’t let others’ beliefs about which parties you should attend, what food you should eat or how nicely decorated your house should be get in the way of that goal. If you find yourself saying “I should,” you are probably carrying someone else’s energy on that topic. If you find yourself surrounded by unrealistic expectations created by you or those around you, try our Intuitive Energy Practice guided meditation on Relationship with Self and Others to reconnect with your own divine inner wisdom.
3. Remember that food is medicine. It’s no surprise that people tend to get sick around the holiday season. Overeating and/or eating poor combinations of foods leads to digestive distress, the first sign of imbalance. Add to that the constant busyness of this time of year and you’ve got a recipe for illness. If you’ve overeaten at meals or indulged in sugary holiday cookies, give yourself a day of kitchadi, Ayurveda's healing food. We’ve posted several recipe variations for kitchadi that will reset your digestion and bring balance to your body and mind.
4. Keep a daily routine. Dinacharya, or daily routine, is critical to calm vata dosha and stay grounded. Waking before sunrise, practicing abhyanga (we recommend Banyan Botanical’s Ashwagandha Bala oil when you need extra strength and vitality), clearing your sinuses with a neti pot, calming your mind with meditation and eating a warm breakfast at a regular time are all key to maintaining balance throughout the season. Even if you travel during the holidays, commit to maintaining your dinacharya by packing some of the tools you use at home. You never know – the glow you carry throughout the holidays may inspire your friends and family members to become Ayurveda enthusiasts.
5. Schedule yourself for calm. When things get busy, you can choose to stay calm. Set calendar reminders for simple pleasures, such as a cup of warm Vibrance tea or a moment to close your eyes and repeat a soothing mantra or prayer. Sometimes the guidance of repeating a mantra as you rotate through the 108 beads on a mala during a meditation can bring you into a state of peace faster than you might normally be able to attain. Even five minutes will make a difference, and you can do it anywhere – even in the parking lot before you have to face the crowds at the mall (better yet, skip the mall and get your gifts from our Yogi’s Gift List, our hand-picked selection of “presents for presence”).
6. Make room for Ayurveda at your holiday table. It’s possible to celebrate the holidays in a way that also celebrates your health. At your next holiday event, try this recipe for Ayurvedic pumpkin pie. The sweetness of the pumpkin and the brightness of the spices makes this dessert shine – no refined sugar needed!
This toolkit is just a starting point for how you can find balance during the holiday and all year long. What else will you add this year? Leave your comments below to share the tips that help you thrive through the holidays.