December – is there a crazier month in the whole year? Is there a busier month? Is there a more stressful one? I sure can’t think of a single one that rivals December in any of these ways. It is essentially a jumbled combination of end of the semester projects; the stress those bring; holiday shopping, planning, and baking; new year planning, and end of the year cleaning. And, what’s even worse is that amongst this mishmash of a million little tasks, this is also the time for reconnecting with friends and family. This season, which was once meant for relaxation and recharging I am sure, has become for many of us the most troubling time of year.
The holiday season isn’t something you can schedule (though this year I have been trying – check that post out here). It is more of a feeling, a mood, a state of mind. Yes, scheduling in an hour of holiday fun time a day can get you in the spirit, but the other 23 hours tend to just eradicate the jolliness. So as you may have already guessed, I been trying out new ways to not only get into the holiday spirit, but stay there.
The solution to this worldwide problem won’t be found under any holiday tree. No, the answer comes from ancient Sanskrit: pranayama. Pranayama, which literally translates to “extension of the life force,” is the contemporary word for yoga breathing. Though these breathing techniques can get pretty advanced and difficult, their basic concept is our breath propels us – it gives us power and vitality.
Breathing techniques won’t get you into the holiday spirit, but they can quell the stress and anxiety that can rush the spirit away. Feeling stressed about your finals? Dreading going home for the holidays? Anxious about getting your Christmas shopping done last-minute? Just breathe. Take a deep inhale that opens up your rib cage. Fill your body with air, and feel it expand. Now, exhale fully. Let all the air out, and feel all your stress release with it. Pay close attention to how your breath connects with everything your body does. Breathe slow and feel your heart rate slow, feel your muscles relax, feel that holiday spirit sustain itself.
Don’t be too stressed out and anxious to enjoy this holiday season. Take the time to get into the spirit, but also make sure that spirit stays with you. Click here for your two (relaxing) minutes of procrastiantion.