The Gift of Presence: Yoga for Stress
The holidays are always quite the Catch-22, aren’t they? On the one hand, we look forward to them all year—the friends, the family, the festivities, heck—even the over-abundant yard displays. But on the other hand, they can often suck us into a vortex of stress—things to buy, gifts to wrap, food to cook, parties to attend, and seemingly more commitments with each passing year.
I don’t know about you, but this year I’m choosing to tell myself a different story. Instead of approaching the holidays as one big stress-fest, I’m going to do my best to see them as an opportunity to not only give presents, but to be present.
Presents and Presence
But sometimes? Yeah, I know. Being present to the craziness doesn’t sound fun. Interestingly, though, that’s when presence can actually be the greatest gift. And here’s the reason, the little secret you hardly ever hear about presence: It’s an incredible form of self-care.
That’s right! Taking care of you during the holidays. Whoulda thunk it?
This works because presence helps us live in our bodies. I know this seems impossible not to do, but it’s actually surprisingly easy to skip the body and stay in the head. But when we’re truly embodied, we know how to stay grounded amidst chaos and experience gratitude instead of guilt for taking care of ourselves to take care of others.
This sounds like a holiday I can get behind; how ’bout you? One that brings all of what I love together—connection between mind/body, friends/family, and more.
In other words, yoga.
5 Ways to Up Your Presence Factor
I know; I know. You’re probably thinking, “That sounds great! But she clearly hasn’t seen my to-do list.” But that’s where you’re wrong. Santa actually showed me yours (not to worry—you were on the nice list), and that’s why now, more than ever, I want to share these possibilities with you. So here we go:
1. Attitude of Gratitude: What do the people (especially the adults) in your life truly need? Instead of getting them the newest gadget this year (or in addition to), what about letting them know all the wonderful things you love about them? Consider making a 2012 calendar for them with sweet notes written throughout to remind them. You'll be amazed at how much your own heart lifts when you practice gratitude for another.
2. Take a Breath: I know this sounds trivial, and like something you tell children who are about to spin out of control, but there’s a reason we talk about breath so often in relation to stress—it works. Give this a whirl: When you’re feeling stressed, close your eyes, place your right hand on your heart and your left hand on your belly. Take five slow, deep breaths. See what’s changed. If nothing, rinse, lather, repeat until you notice a difference. If you’re able, you might even like to do this lying down.
3. Restore: Restorative yoga is a stressed-out yogi’s best friend. Do you have a go-to pose? If so, go with that. If not, I’ll loan you mine: Supta Baddha Konasana. This one is a gem that always leaves me feeling refreshed. Try it when you have at least five minutes (and preferably more) to rest into it.
4. Yoga with a Pal: This is a great time of year for tag-team shopping, but what if you skip the mall and hit the studio instead? Meeting up with a friend for yoga can be such a treat during your day. If you don’t have time to make it to a class together, choose a living room and roll out your mats there instead.
5. Permission Slip: Sometimes all you need during the holidays is a little permission—permission to take a brief walk when get-togethers get overwhelming, permission to arrive late and leave early, permission to politely walk away from a maddening conversation, permission to do less and enjoy more.
Wishing you lots of presence under your tree and in your heart!