Saturday, December 18, 2010

Ho! Ho!--Holy Crap! How Am I Going to Survive The Holidays?

I have a lot in common with Santa around the holidays. Well, actually, maybe just one thing: I have to travel--an INSANE amount--in a short period of time. (When I call it the East Coast Tour, I'm not exaggerating. BTW, it kicks off tomorrow.)

I also have something in common with the Grinch and Ebenezer Scrooge: I do NOT like it! Not one bit!

There's the incredible amount of time of sitting in one place during the drive. The awkwardness that comes with being someone's house guest for a little bit too long. (Can anyone tell me how to NOT offend family members who slave for hours preparing meaty family favorites because every year they manage to forget that I am a vegetarian?) Then, there's the impossible-to-avoid drama over which family gets the honor of hosting the festivities on the coveted day OF Christmas, and the guilt that follows by the side of the family that gets the pre- or post-holiday celebration. (Dear Family, Please understand that I can only be in one place at a time. When my yogic skills have advanced to the point that I am able to duplicate myself, you will be the first to know.)

It is just impossible to please everyone! Oh, and it's a pretty big challenge to fit any asana practice into the packed schedule of activities. But there are little ways to fit yoga into these busy days.

Here are a few tips I use every year:

Breathe. Obviously, this is the one that you don't even have to find a corner alone in a crowded room. Just pay attention to the inhale and exhale, and remember to be present.

Take Little Breaks. When you're camping out on someone's couch because all the guest rooms are filled with family members, it can be nearly impossible to find a moment alone. But it's completely necessary for your sanity. Take little walks. Shut yourself in the bathroom. Do whatever you need to do to re-center yourself for just a few minutes when you feel overwhelmed.

Stretch. If you can't shut yourself in a separate room by yourself for an hour every day for your asana practice, get a few stretches in whenever you can. Stretch and breathe. Breathe and stretch. This can be your yoga.

Bring Something that Reminds You of Your Practice. If you bring a yoga mat (or something else that reminds you of your yoga) in your suitcase, you'll think of you practice every time you sift through it to find your toothbrush. You might not always have time to take it out and use it, but if nothing else, it's a reminder that you will survive the traveling just like you survived the last time your teacher made you hold that Warrior I for more breaths that you thought you could handle.

Think of the Intention, Not the Impact. This one doesn't really have that much to do with yoga, but I had to include it because, well, every time you spend this much time with family it's inevitable that someone will say something rude that pushes buttons and hurts feelings. So your grandmother has pointed out the chicken pock scar on your face every time you've seen her since you were 11 years old and it drives you nuts.. or you dad thinks you look SO much better now that you've put a little extra meat on your bones (just what every girl wants to hear!)... Can you see that they are trying to show that they care even though it comes off as... well... the wrong thing to say? Try to look at the intention and let the rest roll right off your back.

How do you cope with the stress that comes with the holiday season?