'Tis the season to be jolly.....

Tis the season to be jolly… ho ho humbug…that’s how a lot of people feel when stress and tension take over the joyousness of the season. Unforeseen circumstances can forestall some planned seasonal activities… so sometimes we just need to take a breath and step back and re-evaluate.

We lost a valued member of my family this week, so the path of activities took a different turn from where I intended to go with Christmas this week. Evenings of baking, parties and decorating, turned into evenings of writing obituaries, planning a funeral service and going back through some old family photos. The death of my 86 year old father-in-law was not un-expected, but when it comes during the middle of the season of festivities, it puts a little bit of extra stress on family and friends.

Yoga is a great way to help ‘survive the holidays’. The yoga sutras tell us (in sutra 3.3) that attachment to pleasure and aversion to pain are two of the “afflictions” that cause human suffering. We sometimes fantasize about how the holidays should look or our lives should go. We need to start by recognizing our attachment to plans and hopes for this season. Go ahead with plans, but do your work with “detachment” or “skill in actions” as the Gita recommends.

Practice yoga for stress management to quiet your nervous system and your mind. This includes meditation and Pranayama (breath work), as well as restorative poses with a focus for the mind, perhaps corpse pose (Savasana) with peaceful imagery can relieve stress and tension in the body.

Cultivating “Santosha” (which means “contentment”) the ‘ability to be comfortable with what we have and what we do not have.’ (according to TKV Desikachar).

To help cultivate contentment, the Yoga Sutras recommend meditation, Pranayama and detachment and then…

“1.33 Through cultivation of friendliness, compassion, joy and indifference to pleasure and pain, virtue and vice respectively, the consciousness becomes favorably disposed, serene and benevolent.”

I wish you continued joy this holiday season.

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