Presence Not Presents (And a Christmas Yoga Playlist)

In this week’s yoga classes we have been focusing a lot on restorative and grounding poses, coming on to the mat to find both length and stability to be present in the moment. So many times during this season we can just get lost in the sheer busyness, and then you blink and the New Year has come and it is back to the regular grind. Yoga is a great practice for the holiday season because through it we are able to cultivate presence (not presents) and being in the moment.

As you enter into the holiday weekend, I challenge you to take a moment to breathe and intentionally put everything else to the side but the friends and loved ones that are in front of you. If you are at a party don’t fret about the task list of things that need to be done when you get home, taking up your energy, because whether you worry about them or not those items will still be there. Of course that doesn’t mean neglect chores that need to be done (it’s just a part of life), but maybe find areas where you can delegate or compromise, including the ones you love in the work. My Kindergartner has been a great help over break with picking up small things and throwing away trash, putting plates into the sink as needed. These small tasks add up.

Also this season look for areas where you can loosen your control. Building flexibility on the mat requires some discomfort: you must push the limit, slowly sinking deeper into a stretch as length builds in the muscle. In a yoga practice you must discern how far you can go and where you can find length, while still keeping yourself supported and safe. Being part of a family or community often means compromise: suspending selfish desires and wants for what’s best for the group.

If you’re a Type A like me, actively look this holiday season for places where you can let go of the need to control, loosening your grip on how things turn out. Maybe it’s eating something you wouldn’t have chosen, or going to a family member’s house you don’t particularly like in order to make your partner happy. And Type B friends: make sure you maintain safe boundaries and support, so you aren’t pushed past your limits. No is a complete sentence. If something goes against your values, speak up and say as much. If you are feeling stretched a little thin take the time to rejuvenate.

This has been my challenge to my students this week and I invite you all to do the same: cultivate intentional gratitude this season. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate production, no journals or essays required. Rather at the end of each day reflect on the prompt “I am grateful for… Because…” for three things. And that’s it.  You will find that gradually as you continue this practice you will notice more of the small blessings in your life, and that can lead to a deeper peace and contentment over time.

And if you’re feeling a little worn down this season, take some time for quiet and do the things that refill you. I have been using this Christmas playlist for my hour long vinyassa classes this past week, and the songs have been my go to personal reset button when things get crazy. I recommend listening to it in the car, or after a rough day when you need a quiet moment.

I hope you have a happy and safe holiday season, and know that my thoughts and prayers go out to you my readers as we turn to celebrate Christmas and the coming New Year.


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