I can already feel it, the racing pulse, the frantic call to shopping, the urgency and worry—will everything be perfect?
Will I have time to get everything done? Will I make it through the season without snapping and chucking a nutcracker through the window?
No matter how hard I try not to get all wound up about Christmas, as soon as I hear “Jingle Bells” my blood pressure hits the roof. And I won’t even tell you what happens when I hear “Grandma Got Run Over By a Reindeer.”
I gave some considerable thought today, as I embarked upon the annual madness, on how to get the frazzle out of my dazzle. This year, I’m going to try and simmer down like this:
1) I’m going to look for free gifts.
Not free stuff—free gifts.
When I was riding my bike this morning, peering through my balaclava at the wind whipping grey leaves across the path and the all around dreariness of the woods, I’ll admit—I wasn’t having any fun. This is rare for me if I’m outside, but it was just a miserable day.
Halfway through the ride a sheet of icy raindrops plopped down from the angry sky, and I thought, really? I should just turn around and go home.
But I didn’t. I was out there, and I wanted to ride. I told myself to just make it over the bridge, the toughest part of the route, and see how I felt. I labored up the bridge, heaving and huffing, swearing as my feet slipped off my now wet pedals, and finally got to the top.
As I coasted down the other side I saw, directly in my path, five deer, milling around contentedly as they noshed on blades of grass. I stopped my bike and watched them. They watched me back. I could see their breath misting in the air, the rumpled fur on their hides, and the funny little marks above their eyes which look exactly like eyebrows.
That’s the kind of free gift I’m talking about. They are everywhere, and I plan to collect as many as I can this year.
2) I’m going to remember my mudras.
Of course, there are lots of mudras, or hand positions, which help us remember important things and channel good thoughts and energy, but I like these two basics best.
Gyan mudra is performed with both hands, preferably while in a seated position. The backs of the hands rest on the knees while the thumb joins the forefinger and the rest of the fingers extend outward and down. Gyan mudra indicates a connection between the individual and the universal self, and also invites wisdom and calm.
As soon as I do this mudra I feel like I’ve plugged in and am able to be stronger and more munificent than before. Perfect for the holidays.
Anjali mudra is done by putting hands in the classic prayer position. Doing so indicates humility and gratitude. Like gyan mudra, this has an instantaneous positive effect on me. I feel balanced and peaceful as soon as my palms touch. Good stuff.
3) I will take time for restorative poses.
I often put my students in restorative poses, but I rarely find time to do them myself. The holiday season seems like the perfect opportunity to make sure I do.
Hopefully you will find me in balasana (child’s pose), letting my belly soften with each exhalation, gently rolling my forehead on the ground to unknot my brow and open my third eye, and taking big deep breathes into my upper back.
If not child’s, I will pop into legs-up-the-wall with my hips propped up on a bolster. This will help detoxify my body from the mulled wine I have no doubt put into it, ease inflammation, and release tension in my low back. Yum.
4) I will also make time for naps.
I always make time for naps, but I’m going to bring it to the next level. Shades drawn, noise machine on, tight clothes off. Double yum.
5) I’ll slap a Buddha smile on my face.
If all else fails, or I am having a public melt down, this lightening quick strategy never disappoints. It’s kind of the same idea as “fake it til you make it”, but with a yogic twist.
You know that smile Buddha always has on his face? That beneficent curve of the lips which make his face look as placid those deer I saw in the woods today? I put that on my own face.
Try it—your facial muscles immediately relax and it’s nearly impossible to think mean or frantic thoughts. People might think you’re a little crazy, but it’s a small price to pay for peace.
I figure all this stuff gives me a decent arsenal to ward off the Christmas blues. I’ll let you know if I make it through to Next Year with my nutcracker in tact.
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Editor: Bryonie Wise