Today and tomorrow (Thanksgiving Day) are the biggest travel days of the year. It’s fun to reconnect with family and friends to celebrate the holidays. But sometimes, in the rush of travel and celebrations, our yoga practice takes a back seat. Often, our accommodations are less than ideal for practicing yoga. There may or may not be sufficient space, or where there is a good amount of space, it may be very public.
But the rush of the holidays is really an ideal time to keep up with practice. It can help us be more mindful in our interactions with others, and it might help us be more judicious about what we consume. Our yoga practice can give us a sense of grounding when we’re in unfamiliar circumstances.
Make Time for Holiday Yoga Practice
So, how can you maintain your yoga practice, even in less-than-ideal circumstances? Here are some ideas:
- Before you travel, do some research. Find a yoga class that fits your and your family’s holiday schedule. Google the style of yoga you prefer or take the opportunity to explore a yoga style that isn’t available where you live. It’s always good to learn something new.
- Bring a travel yoga mat. Travel mats are very small, light and easily packable. Having your own mat with you can take some of the guesswork out of your holiday yoga practice. Knowing that you have a reliable, nonskid surface for practice can inspire you to be more consistent.
- Get up early—at least sometimes. When you’re in the midst of holiday gatherings that can go into the wee hours, getting up early may not seem appealing. Sometimes it’s absolutely appropriate to balance your holiday activities with extra sleep. But it’s a whole lot easier to practice yoga in the morning, before friends and family have shifted into gear for the day. Often, if you put off your practice until later, it never happens.
- Improvise. If you’re used to practicing set sequences, you may need to alter what you do because of space constraints. Poses such as standing balances require very little space, and balancing poses can help collect a racing mind. Take the opportunity to explore outside your norms. Come up with a new sequence to fit your situation.
- Give yourself a nice, long Savasana. Remember that asana practice is just exercise without Savasana. Give yourself time to lie down, do nothing, and let your body integrate your physical practice. If you’re able to carve out a 60-minute practice, give your Savasana at least 10 minutes. Even if your practice is cut to 10 minutes, give yourself a few minutes of Savasana. If maintaining balance during hectic times is a goal for your practice, Savasana is essential.
- Restore. Be open to slowing down your routine. Travel, parties and endless socializing can take a lot out of you. Take time to practice a few restorative poses (like the one in the above photo). This particular pose, Supta Baddha Konasana, is particularly helpful for the holidays because it can calm digestion while it restores your energy. It’s pretty easy to improvise your props for this one too.
- Adjust your expectations. When we impose rules such as, “I must practice 60 minutes for it to count,” or “I must do (fill in the blank) poses in every practice,” we fail to appreciate the practice we’re actually able to do. Holiday yoga practice may not always rise to your expectations. But the problem is not your practice; it’s your expectations. Appreciate your practice just as it is, even if can only be five or ten minutes on a given day. Maybe your practice is not as quiet as you’d like because friends and family—including four-legged family members—are up and about. Or maybe some days, you don’t practice at all. It’s really okay. A little practice, even if it’s not in “hothouse conditions,” can go a long way.
Stay open to whatever surprises your holidays bring. And be grateful for friends, family, celebrations and yoga!