Practices of Seasonal Stress Relief

With the onset of the holiday season, our yoga and meditation practice can often take a back seat to all the other events occurring in our lives. Oddly, enough, this is the time when these practices can benefit us the most. I suggest making a commitment to yourself: set aside 10 minutes a day for the month of December to devote to your personal practice. Whether its to meditate, practice asana or fine a few deep breaths in silence, this time can vastly improve your personal health an well being during the holidays.

Here are five ideas for your ten minute practice in the next month:

1. Get Grounded: If the weather allows go outside to your yard, garden or nearby park. Spend your ten minutes exploring asana in the outdoors. Some great poses are:

  • Tadasana: find mountain pose. Close your eyes and breathe deeply.  Feel your connection of the feet to the earth, feel the length of the spine. Imagine you could draw your breath through the soles of your feet to your crown.
  • Salambasana Sirasana: find headstand and reverse the flow of energy in the body.  Feel the beautiful release of putting your head on the earth.  As you practice, imagine all your thoughts melting out of your head and into the ground.

2. Breathe Deep: use your time to explore a pranayama. Breath exercises can be a great way to calm the nervous system and clear the nadis (energy channels in the body) to encourage proper energy flow. A few options are:

  • Ujjayi: conqueror’s breath. Find this audible breath and then count an inhale of 5 and an exhale of 5. Work to balance the inhalation and exhalation and soothe the nervous system.
  • Nadi Shodhana: alternate nostril breathing. Calm the mind and balance the hemispheres of the brain.
  • Kapalabhati: skull shining breath. Clear the 6th chara and illuminate the mind.

3. Get Quiet: sit in silent meditation for 10 minutes. Focus on the breath. If the mind starts to wander come back to the breath.

4. Move It: sometimes the only outlet for stress is to bring movement into the body to release the tension and disharmony. Here are some suggestions for your practice:

  • Surya Namaskar: connect with the heat and solar energy of the sun.
  • Warrior Sequence: strong and grounded.

5. Wring it Out: deep twisting is great during the winter season. Twists help to ring out the toxins from internal organs and to promote digestion and elimination. Just be mindful to not practice twists right after a meal!