Breathe, Stretch and Be Merry!


Christmas may be over but there’s still plenty of reasons to keep on being merry. There are leftovers to eat, presents to put away, and New Year’s to plan for. Yes, it’s a great time to be merry, but in between all the holiday cheer, don’t forget to breath. Thus, I bring you this guest post from Heather Ashare.

Heather has been a dedicated practitioner and instructor of Ashtanga yoga for several years. As the yoga expert at, she shares simple and effective ways to make yoga a part of your life for greater fitness and wellness. also provides healthy recipes, weight loss tools, nutrition and health guidance in the Diet Blog and reviews of nearly 650 diet plans.

The holidays are one of the most festive and joyous times of the year but they are also jam-packed with stress, anxiety and lots of running around. Before the holiday cheer sidelines you into a frenetic tailspin, make some time for a few minutes of yoga therapy each day so that you can embrace the full splendor of the season.

  1. Breathe: You’ve heard it before but deep breathing is one of the simplest yet effective ways to calm your senses. As your stress levels reach mistletoe heights as you stand in mile-long lines at the mall, try this simple standing meditation to quell your anxiety:

    Take five full breaths through your nose. Allow each inhale to rise up through the front of your chest, inflating it like a balloon. Then as you exhale, keep breathing out until your lower belly starts to curl in slightly. As you do this, relax your shoulders and keep your eyes focused on something steady like the carpet beneath you or a shiny holiday decoration in front of you.

  2. Bend, Stretch and Move: Exercise is one of the best ways to keep stress at bay. If you know that you have a day ahead of you filled with shopping, cooking and parties, get up early enough to squeeze in a yoga practice. If you can make it to an early morning class, great! If that is just not possible, roll out your yoga mat in a quiet place and do 10 Sun Salutations. This invigorating breathing and movement system will give you the energy to get through your entire to-do- list and the peace of mind to complete it calmly.
  3. Eat Mindfully: Stress and overeating are a disastrous combination. Even though there is an abundance of food during the holiday season, be mindful about what you put into your mouth. Rather than feeling panicked about all the food available to you and the pressure to eat it, perform the above breathing exercise before you head to the buffet or the dessert table. Remaining present about your eating behaviors will curtail the temptation to overdo it.

Applying both the physical and mental practices of yoga to your holiday season will keep you feeling in control of your emotions and body. And remember, whether it’s a few deep breaths, a round of sun salutations, or a bite of pecan pie, a little goes a very long way.

Happy Holidays!

Image courtesy of tanakawho.

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