OM for the Holidays

Written by Desiree Santiago |

Yoga, the “union” of mind, body and spirit — more commonly known as a series of postures — called “asanas” — and breathing techniques, has become one of the most popular ways to exercise and improve overall wellness. In fact, according to the most recent findings from the Yoga Alliance,  36.7 million Americans practice yoga regularly in the United States, and 28% of Americans have tried it at some point. Given the positive effects of a consistent yoga practice, here are a few reasons why you should get down with your downward dog this holiday season:


  1. Stress relief

Want to stay Zen during “the most wonderful time of the year” – i.e., while shopping in a packed mall or during an awkward conversation with extended family at the holiday table? Yoga is sure to come in handy. It  can help you with calming breathing techniques that will not only relax you mentally, but also lower your heartrate.


  1. Spreading holiday cheer and ahimsa

Ahimsa,” or non-violence, is one of the main pillars of yoga. No matter your religion or belief system, I think most people can agree that the holidays are about being together with loved ones and expressing kindness towards one another.


  1. Improve your focus and endurance

Did you know that most yoga classes begin by asking participants to set an intention in their mind? Usually this means thinking of another person throughout your practice. The idea is to focus on someone or something other than yourself – just the right attitude for the holiday season.


  1. Exit strategy

While it’s wonderful to have lots of extra time with friends and family, the days can get exhausting. (Fellow introverts, can I get an “Amen”?!) Booking a yoga class in advance is the perfect excuse to get some alone time to recuperate.


  1. Let it Go

Not the Frozen song. Yoga can be a very humbling experience. You may be able to master “crow pose” one day and struggle with it the next. A welcome reminder, as we struggle with some awkward holiday interactions, to recognize each situation for what it is, then move on and let it go.


  1. Warmth

Bikram yoga (105- degree temperature and a strict series of 26 poses) and hot yoga classes (80-100 degrees with a less strict Vinyassa flow) are becoming increasingly popular. As temperatures plummet this month, practicing yoga in the heat is a great way to warm up and get out of the cold. Other benefits to a heated yoga practice include sweating out toxins (eggnog, anyone?) and increased flexibility.


  1. A Head Start on that New Year’s Resolution

Developing a steady practice now will help you with your wellness goals for 2017. Furthermore, while yoga may not burn as many calories as some other exercises, most yogis become more mindful of what they consume throughout the day. Because let’s face it: no one likes to engage in intense physical activity on an overly full stomach.


As new benefits of yoga continue to be uncovered (like curing this year’s post-election blues),  there are plenty of reasons to hit the mat this holiday season. Namaste.