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December 19, 2012

A Yogi’s Guide to the Holidays.

It’s that time of year. Bells are jingling, children are caroling and eggnog is flowing.

The pros? The holidays can be a source of joy and celebration, a chance to catch up with old friends and family. If you play it right you can unplug from technology and enjoy face-to-face conversation with loved ones.

The cons? Holiday time is often overwhelming and it can feel superficial. Between the shopping, food prep and dysfunctional family interactions, it can be stressful. We can spend a whole month or more recovering from the excess food, drink and general slothfulness.

Through a practice of yoga, mindfulness and good boundaries it is possible to finesse the hustle of the season, and keep the holidays sacred. Here are some of the strategies I’ve used in past years.

Do a Solstice Practice

The holidays fall close to Solstice, the darkest, longest day of the year. Honor this earth-based holiday by doing what nature is already doing: turning inward.

Solstice is the final exhalation of the year, the pause before the return of the light. As the earth is stripped down to its essentials, notice what is falling away or not authentic anymore in your life. Solstice is a time to ask yourself, “What is no longer authentic to me?”

In your journal, write about the following areas of your life:

>>Relationships/ family

>>Community

>>Career

>>Health

>>Finances

>>Self/ Spiritual Practice

What is the next chapter for each of these categories? Contemplate what needs to end and what needs to begin. Once you know that, you will be ready to focus on bringing more light and fresh life to your heart’s desires as the sun begins to offer more light to all of nature.

Have Candlelight

Celebrate the light that’s coming by lighting lots of candles in your home or room! This will help you to create a cheerful and bright mood and remember the sacred significance of solstice.

Remember to skip the paraffin candles and use beeswax or soy instead. Paraffin is bad for your lungs and means oil drilling had to happen to make them.  Try candles scented with evergreen, pine or clove essential oil to keep the mood wintery and festive.

Conscious Gift Giving

This year, make the choice to give meaningful gifts that go beyond consumerism and actually make the world a better place.

For the animal loving children and adults in your life, consider adopting their favorite animal in need in their name—a penguin or polar bear perhaps?

Or imagine opening a child’s worldview and sense of giving by adopting a child in a developing country, with whom they could write and share photos during the child’s upbringing?

Make sure to use eco-friendly, recycled wrapping paper. Or even better, get creative with fun fabrics that you can put in storage and reuse next year. I also love going out in nature to collect pine cones, and snippets of evergreen to tie on to gifts with hemp twine instead of ribbon.

Holiday Recipes

If you are used to being bombarded by white sugar, wine and other holiday indulgences that leave you feeling crashed out by the end of the evening, take a stand and do something different this year!

Either host holiday parties yourself or bring healthy treats to social events. Your friends and family will hopefully thank you for providing something that keeps them healthy. And if they just don’t get it—to each their own!

 

  • This colorful kale pomegranate salad recipe is always a hit at my holiday parties. The vibrant green of the kale and bright red of the pomegranate seeds are totally festive.

 

  • Also, these raw zucchini wraps make perfect cocktail party treats that your guests can pop into their mouths while catching up with each other.

 

The holidays wouldn’t be complete without a crave-worthy dessert. But there’s no reason why you should turn to white sugar or flour, or even agave, to satisfy your hunger for sweetness.

Check out these chewy, crunchy delicious raw ginger snap cookies made with real ginger and molasses. They are showstoppers!

 

Do you have nourishing, healthy holiday recipes to share or other ideas for a more mindful holiday season? Come join our Conscious Holiday Pinfest on Pinterest!  This is the place to get inspired for conscious holiday gift-giving, decorating, feasting and general merriment. Just leave a comment on any of the pins and I will add you as a pinner!

 ~

Ed: Kate B.

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