Updated: Mar 27, 2020
Summer has finally arrived in the south west, with the days being sunny and long and the excitement of the holidays all around us.
As I wrap up the end of the year, I would like to thank you all for allowing me to be a part of your yoga journey. It has been a pleasure sharing some mat time with you during 2018 and I look forward to seeing what 2019 has in store for us all!
Christmas Yoga Tips
Christmas comes along once a year, but with it can also come a multitude of questions, problems, tension, joy, connection and love… Depending on your circumstances and mindset!
In the midst of all the planning, shopping, dinners, parties and holidays, the stress of Christmas can sometimes become overwhelming.
If you find it challenging to meet the seasons demands without abandoning your yoga practice, worry not. With some simple mindful steps you can be sure to stay in touch with your practice, and thus your sanity, during this busy yet fun time.
Here are 3 easy ways that you can maintain your practice during the holiday season:
1. Modify your meditations. Try this: It is common to place the focus on the third eye centre (between the eyebrows) when meditating, a technique used to improve mental clarity. However, during the holiday season, we spend a lot of time in our heads pondering to-do lists, gift ideas and travel plans. So this month, try a more body-focused meditation to drop into your physical body, something often neglected when there is so much thinking to do.
Place your hands on your lower belly while practicing deep belly breathing and notice the way in which your hands move while the belly rises with each inhale and exhale. Feel your breath flowing down into the hips and pelvis. Observe the diaphragm as it flattens as you inhale, gently squeezing the abdominal organs. Follow each inhale with a slow, full exhalation. Using the breath as your anchor, stay present to the sensations in the body when the mind is tempted to wonder to that oh-so-crucial shopping list one more time.
2. “Time management yoga.” A common excuse for not practicing yoga is the age-old “I don’t have time” mantra. I am guilty of this myself, especially when life gets busy. So if you catch yourself saying this, try this trick: Start or end your holiday shopping trips with a class at your favourite local studio. Work it in as it if it’s another item on your to-do list that must be accomplished. If you practice at home, use a timer like the free Insight Timer app to motivate yourself to practice and to keep track of time. Do some gentle asana or sun salutations or try a seated meditation, but take this short break to stay in the present moment, reminding yourself that when the timer goes off, you have full permission to return to your busy life again. Let this time be the gift you give yourself this holiday season. The best part? During a time of increased spending, this gift doesn’t cost a cent.
3. Set strong intentions. It is important to remember what the season is all about, and thankfully, yoga practice is a wonderful space in which to explore the reason for the season! Of course different traditions hold different beliefs about why we celebrate this time of year, but some themes remain constant: peace, love and extending kindness to others. Consider your continued commitment to your practice as a way to honour these virtues, knowing that by stepping onto your mat you’re fuelling yourself with the ability to fully embody these qualities when you step out into the world. Set an intention to not 'sweat the small stuff' and to rather open your heart and home with the gift of love & kindness to all.
When in doubt, remember that your yoga practice is always available to you. Whether you are at a family gathering, at the beach or a shopping mall, you can always pause and take a breath or step outside and enjoy the sunshine. What are some other ways you stay connected with your yoga practice during the holiday season?
Summer zucchini salad with seeds, parmesan, and mint and lemon dressing
5 small green zucchini
3 tbsp mixed roasted seeds, such as sunflower, sesame and pepitas
1 cup of chopped vegetables of your choice - I like to add snow peas, sprouts, green beans or asparagus
To serve: finely grated parmesan
To serve: zucchini flowers, stamens removed and torn (optional)
Mint and lemon dressing
1 cup (firmly packed) mint leaves
125 ml extra-virgin olive oil (mild-tasting) (½ cup)
1 small garlic clove, halved
Juice of 1 lemon, finely grated rind of ½
1~ Slice the zucchini into a bowl using a mandoline or peeler, season with ¾ tsp sea salt flakes and stand until zucchini softens (2 minutes). Drain well and pat dry with absorbent paper, then return to a dry bowl.
2~ For the mint and lemon dressing, blend ingredients in a blender until a fairly fine sauce forms. Pour over zucchini, toss to coat and season to taste.
3~ Transfer zucchini to a platter, scatter with seeds, vegetables and zucchini flowers, finish with parmesan and serve.
Enjoy this delicious salad on a hot summers day for a light and refreshing meal!
Benefits of the salad:
~ Zucchini contains significant amounts of fibre, vitamins B6, riboflavin, folate, C, and K, and minerals, like potassium and manganese which improve eye health, boost energy and slows down the ageing process. It also contains antioxidant and anti-inflammatory phytonutrients which rid the body of free radicals and excess inflammation, thus reducing the risk of cancers.
~ Pumpkin seeds are a good source of antioxidants, magnesium, zinc and fatty acids — all of which may help to keep your heart healthy.
~Sunflower seeds may help to lower blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar as they contain vitamin E, magnesium, protein, linoleic fatty acids and several plant compounds.
~Sprouts alkalize the body and protect it from disease, including cancer. Sprouted seeds, grains, legumes or nuts also help to support cell regeneration. This is because vitamins, such as A, B, C and E, and essential fatty acids increase during sprouting and minerals bind to protein, making them more easily absorbed.
I hope you have found these tips interesting and useful!
I would like to take this opportunity to wish you and your families a happy, healthy and peaceful Festive Season. May the coming year bring you an abundance of fulfilment, love, good health and laughter!
With Love & Light,