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‘Tis the season to be jolly.

Or is it?

For some of us, this time of year can actually be extremely stressful. Regardless of your faith, your atheism or your beliefs; whether you celebrate the birth of Jesus, the Summer Solstice (for us here in the Southern Hemisphere) or something else – December can be overwhelming and stressful.

But, with a sprinkling of preparation and a dash of yoga, you’ll find that this time of year doesn’t have to be the bag of stress it has been in the past.

Here are five ways that yoga will keep you sane over Christmas:

  • Find your mantra

Mantra is an ancient meditative practice, in which you repeat a simple word or phrase to manifest it in your life. There are acres of pages written about mantra – about the history and philosophy, the vibrations and the energy. I won’t go into detail here, but if you’ve been to a few of my classes, chances are you’ve happened upon a mantra.

A mantra can be traditional, for example a Sanskrit word, phrase or chant. These all have their own meanings and philosphies attached.

But a mantra can also be personal – one that you choose. This is what I suggest using to help you stay sane over the silly season. A personal mantra can be a simple phrase, always in simple language and the present tense, stating something that you want to be, do or have in your life.

For example, if you know someone is likely to push your buttons over Christmas, you might choose “I am already enough”. If your house is going to be crazy full of people, you may choose “I am peaceful”. If you’re worried about the financial cost of Christmas, perhaps “I have everything I need to live abundantly” is the one for you.

The key is that you choose the mantra. Spend some time thinking about your heart’s greatest desire for the festive period. Imagine that what you desire has already happened, and create your mantra from that.

Any time you feel stressed, overwhelmed, under-appreciated or exhausted, come back to your mantra and repeat as many times as you like, as if it is already happening.

  • Choose just one yogi thing to do over the next week

As you know, there are many, many parts to this thing we call yoga. And sometimes, when we think about doing yoga, it can be overwhelming, simply deciding what to do (that’s why we like going to classes, so someone else can choose for us!).

But you’re already going to be busy and overwhelmed enough over the next week or so.

So, give yourself a break and just choose one thing: a simple mindfulness practice; a single pose that you can do each day; a quick breathing practice that you can pull out in an emergency.

Don’t try and find a whole hour to do an entire sequence. Just squeeze in little bits as you go.

  • Breathe

Yeah, yeah, I know. I’m always going on about the breath. But it’s because it’s so darned goooooooood.

Typically, at this time of year, the stress levels rise in conjunction with the mercury (at least, here in Australia). By the time Christmas morning comes around, you’re just about ready to snap.

So, give yourself a little gift…

Pause for a moment and sigh out. All the way to the end of your breath.

Then breathe in, through your nostrils if you can. Breathe as deeply as you can, and hold it in for a count or two.

Then let it go, sighing out again all the way to the end of your breath.

A few rounds of that, and you’ll be feeling as jolly as Father Christmas himself 🙂

  • Restorative Child’s Pose

One of the ultimate stress-busting poses! You don’t need a yoga mat, you don’t need any special props (maybe a pillow or cushion). You just need a small floor space, and five minutes.

There are lots of variations of Child’s Pose. Check out my Child’s Pose video at Paradise Yoga’s Online Studio. It’s even better if you have something to rest your forehead on –

  • Lion Pose

If a restorative child’s pose isn’t quite stress-busting enough for you, try Lion Pose.

Start by kneeling down with your hands on the floor in front of you. Tuck your chin down towards your chest.

Inhale as you life your head up, until you’re gazing at the ceiling.

ROAR out as an exhale, lowering your head back down and tucking your chin in once more.

Repeat twice more, roaring out each time from your belly.

Watch my Lion Pose video at the Paradise Yoga online yoga school here.

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