For some people, the holiday season brings a ton of excitement, anticipation, and overall joy for the upcoming gatherings, celebrations, and visits with friends and family. For others, it’s definitely a time that can bring up anxiety, overwhelm, and sometimes even a little sadness. I tend to move between both of these extremes because I love the holidays, but I also find myself saying yes to too many obligations, worrying about making everyone happy, and sometimes missing the people I can’t be with.
My yoga practice has helped me navigate extreme emotions in my life and it’s also been what’s stopped me from having a meltdown at work or snapping at the people I love. Through yoga and meditation, I’ve been able to really find that place between action and reaction, so I can take a breath and respond in a much calmer way. Restorative yoga, on the other hand, has been what’s totally saved me during the holidays.
Restorative yoga has a ton of benefits when practiced on a regular basis, but I really need it when life gets a little more hectic, when emotions are high, and when I’m just generally spread out way too thin. This holiday season, I’m relying on restorative yoga to get me through the situations I can’t avoid and the extreme feelings that I tend to feel. It’s my number one helper for the holidays and I’m so excited to share how it can help you out too!
Restorative yoga is like a big hug for your nervous system
It calms your mind and gives your body a chance to release certain anxieties, so it’s incredibly soothing for your mind and body. The soothing effect that it has on your nervous system is something that’s needed anytime tension gets a little high or stress sneaks its way into your life. During the holidays, you may be dealing with tons of phone calls from family members or added stress at work. This is the perfect time to find your yoga mat and unwind.
When your nervous system is regulated and working the way it should, your body creates the space that can facilitate energy conservation. This means that you will naturally know what deserves your attention and what doesn’t. Your ability to make decisions from a calm place is elevated and you won’t feel like you’re doing a million things at once. You’ll be way more rested and feel more refreshed as you navigate important decisions and make holiday plans.
Speaking of rest, restorative yoga helps you sleep
Your body has something really intricate called the parasympathetic nervous system. When this network of nerves is activated, your heart rate and breathing will slow down and your body will enter a state of total relaxation. Restorative yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system, so if you’ve had a long, stressful day, rolling out your yoga mat before bed can be a great way to unwind from any stressors you’ve experienced.
The holidays tend to bring up a lot of extra attention to detail, deep talks, memories that are either really sad or incredibly happy, and a ton of other things that can keep you staring at your bedroom walls all night. By incorporating this practice into your routine a few nights a week, you’ll digest the events of your day better and you’ll bring your mind to a place of ease. This will increase the quality of your sleep and you’ll wake up refreshed and ready to face a new day.
Since you’ll be sleeping better, you’ll have more energy.
It might seem like a no-brainer, but if you’re experiencing high quality sleep, you’ll wake up with a lot more energy. You can’t replace hours of sleep with cups of coffee, so when you bring your body to a place of ease and relaxation, it will reset and recharge the way it’s meant to. In fact, even if you have a few restless nights, you can replace your afternoon coffee with five minutes in a restorative pose.
A few minutes in your restorative practice will tell your body that it’s time to chill out and rest. Once your body experiences this state of rest, you’ll feel much more energized and your mind will be a lot more clear. Remember, you can’t replace a good night’s sleep with restorative yoga, but you can use it as a helper for those days when you need that little pick me up.
Your digestion will improve
If you’ve been going to one too many holiday parties or gatherings, you might be indulging in some things that aren’t part of your daily routine. Maybe you’re eating later or eating a little more. Maybe you’re eating foods that you normally don’t eat. Whatever it is, your body will thank you if you stick with your restorative yoga practice.
Restorative yoga aids in digestion, so the more consistent you are with coming to your mat, the better you’ll digest the things that probably need a little more assistance. The holidays are a great time to try new things and indulge a little bit, but you want to make sure you take care of yourself afterwards!
Restorative yoga may help you handle stress, anxiety, and holiday sadness
As exciting as the holidays may be for some people, they can also be a frantic and sad time for others. Practicing restorative yoga is a powerful form of self care because it brings your body to a place that can facilitate healing. Think about how you feel when you come home from somewhere and you’re tired or stressed or sad. You might go right to your freezer and grab some ice cream to self-soothe, sit on your couch, and watch mindless tv or scroll through your phone.
What if you got on your yoga may and gave yourself a little time in some restorative yoga poses instead? This will give you the time to actually rest and reset from whatever you came home from. You’ll give yourself some time to digest what happened during the day and figure out what healthy and fulfilling choices you need to feel better. When you take care of your beautiful body and mind, you will be more in tune with what it needs to find balance and feel well. This is such an empowering tool to have with you as you navigate the holidays.
You’ll be more kind to yourself
Have you ever been upset with yourself because you wanted to accomplish so much but didn’t get through half of your to-do list? This can happen when events and responsibilities pile on and you want to be everywhere at once. Practicing some restorative yoga poses will help you cultivate gratitude for your work, love for your body, and patience with yourself. Once you slow things down, you’ll be more open to kindness and more receptive to self love.
Once you’re more kind and loving towards yourself, you’ll also find yourself being more compassionate and caring to the people in your life. This is so important as the stress of the holidays begins to creep up and responsibilities pile on. Almost everyone is experiencing these elevated emotions, so being kind is key.
You’ll cultivate a practice that will help you start the new year right
If you start and stick with your restorative yoga practice throughout the holidays, you’ll automatically have a healthy habit under your belt to take into the new year. Sometimes new year’s resolutions don’t always work out, so why not begin healthy habits early? Restorative yoga is a self care practice that can set the foundation for other positive habits to manifest.
If you’re interested in learning more about restorative yoga or becoming certified to teach so you can share these practices with others, be sure to check out our restorative yoga teacher training. It will provide you with the tools you need to kickstart your own practice and also safely teach others. You’ll learn about how the poses are beneficial to your body and mind and also how to sequence them together to create a full length class.
Restorative yoga is for everyone and it’s designed to meet you where you’re at and support you wherever you’re seeking support. It’s my favorite way to take care of myself during the holidays and also throughout the year. It’s what keeps me on track whenever I feel like I’m lacking self care or whenever I need a little reset. The practice is so transformational and I know that you’ll fall in love with it right away!
I hope you have a healthy, balanced, and loving holiday season and I hope that you and yours are well. I hope that these tools support you as you make your way into a new year and I hope they help you find new ways to take care of yourself and to get excited for self care, self love, and continuous kindness.