Yoga Over the Holidays?
Making time for yoga over the holidays… I see it every year. My public studio classes get very quiet during December. Practitioners are at holiday parties or they are out of town spending time with family, and their regular practice wanes for a few weeks. And then every January, those same classes fill to the brim with people resolving to practice more yoga in the New Year.
It’s an understandable cycle. The holidays are special. I 100% support prioritising time with nieces, nephews, and egg nog over attending yet another Tuesday evening vinyasa class.
Yet, I have found in my own practice, if I completely neglect it, particularly during the chaotic holiday season, I struggle to handle even the predictable chaos that accompanies this time of year. Over the past few years, I’ve developed some strategies for maintaining my yoga practice while still carving out extra time for the fun holiday celebrations that only come around once a year. Here are a few ways to stay on your mat, while also making time for the holiday festivities.
No, I’m not talking about hoiking your leg behind your head in Dwi Pada Sirsasana. Rather, be willing to adapt your usual practice schedule over the next few weeks. You might be in the habit of attending yoga classes on weekday evenings, but your calendar is fully booked with Christmas parties and gatherings every weeknight from now until December 24th. Can you substitute your usual 7:15pm class for an early morning one instead? Or maybe you can squeeze in a lunchtime class at a studio near your office? This game of yoga “musical chairs” can be challenging on many fronts. If you like routine, it can be hard to develop a different schedule. Beyond that, you’ll probably find yourself in classes with teachers you don’t usually practice with, or trying a style of yoga you haven’t practiced before. Go in with an open mind, embracing the principle of detachment, and see what you can learn!
Keep it Simple
Now may not be the time to “work” on some new challenging asana that has remained elusive to you for the past year. The most important thing, when confronting any sort of busy ‘season’ in your life, is simply to keep getting on the mat. 15 minutes in the morning straight out of bed? A few simple sun salutations, a standing postures or two, some time with your legs up the wall? 5 minutes of quiet breathing before you hop into bed at night? It all helps, and it’s all an expression of your commitment to your yoga practice. Self practice is empowering, but if you’re newer to yoga, you may not yet feel confident enough to try it, in which case….
Take it Online
There are so many online resources for yogis these days. Videos and podcasts with experienced and respected yoga teachers can help lead you through a well-rounded, balanced yoga class if you don’t yet feel ready to lead yourself. The best part about online yoga at this time of year is you can literally do it anytime, anywhere. I’ve been known to set up my laptop in the corner of my parents’ living room a few days before Christmas, with my niece and nephew lurking nearby wondering what’s wrapped up under the tree, and work through a 30 or 45 minute online class with one of my favourite teachers.
Be Forgiving with Yourself
Odds are good that at some point over the holidays, you will plan to go to a yoga class and you won’t make it. That’s okay. Really. I often remind people who are going through a busy time of life and not making it to class as often as they would like that yoga will still be here for you when you’re ready to return to the practice.
Be Moderate In the New Year
There will be lots of temptations to dive head first into a New Year’s Resolution to “do more yoga.” 30-day challenges, either externally imposed by yoga studios, or internally imposed by highly motivated yogis on January 1, may seem like a good idea. However, I advocate for a more moderate approach that might be more sustainable over the course of an entire year. If you practice yoga for 30 consecutive days in January and then don’t unroll your mat again for the rest of the year, is that, on balance, a strong commitment to your practice? Set a more moderate goal and then try to see it through over the course of six months or even a year.
Above all else, your yoga practice should be something you enjoy, not something you use to punish yourself for perceived excesses or indulgences over the holidays. My ashtanga teacher, David Swenson, says it best: “Have fun practicing yoga.” Indeed… especially when practicing yoga over the holidays.
Becky Farbstein is a no-nonsesnce yoga teacher in London. “I am uncompromisingly honest and make no apologies for challenging my students both physically and intellectually. My students appreciate my pragmatic approach and my straight-talking style. I expect students to be disciplined in their yoga practice. And I balance this with a dry sense of humour and a light-heartedness in the face of the challenge.”
Check out more of Becky, or Read more from Becky Farbs on the monthly here on Gather. Practice with Becky on the weekly in London at Yogarise Peckham, The Power Yoga Company, Union Station Yoga, Yotopia.
feature photos from Becky, and by Caleb Woods, erin walker, and Toa Heftiba on Unsplash