Holiday Survival Tips – Part 1

By Kristine Kaoverii Weber | December 18, 2021

COMMENTS

When I first started working on this yearend series of blogs (which are based on a Holiday Survival guide I created for a course recently), I was thinking about drunk uncles at Christmas dinner and/or sister-in-laws overflowing with unsolicited advice. I wasn’t really thinking about where we are now – teetering on the precipice of another massive COVID surge, (or free falling if you’re in the UK and other parts of the world that are already mired in Omicrom).

But the thing is, the survival and resilience skills we cultivate from yoga practice are transferrable to many different kinds of challenging situations and upheavals – whether it’s an annoying relative or a global crisis.

One of the greatest gifts/skills we can learn from yoga is presence – being able to be present with whatever is happening within and around us. It’s not easy, but it is possible, and once we have one success, where we stay present during a difficult situation, it gets easier and easier to find presence at other times as well. We can set a precedent and move forward with a sense of hope that our responses can be different because if we can be present just one time, then presence is certainly possible during other challenging scenarios.

The most essential component of presence is centering.

Yoga practice affords many opportunities to practice returning to center. Interoception or paying attention and making sense out of body sensations, is key. We get to practice it while doing yoga – asanas, pranayamas, and meditation. And, it’s a transferable skill. We can use what we learn about centering from yoga when dealing with challenging people or situations. 

Over the next month or two as we are plunged deeper into dealing with this fast spreading variant, centering may be a lifeline.

Getting centered and staying present means asking ourselves, “How do I feel when I’m in a crowded mall?” or “How do I feel when I walk into that house?” or “How do I feel when I hear that particular voice?” or “How does listening to news 24/7 make me feel?”

If I can tune into these feelings, they will guide me toward my center, toward a dynamic awareness of who I am, and towards greater clarity about how to take right action in the moment.

My center is both a physical and psycho-emotional place – it can tell me about sensations in my body and also about how I translate these sensations into feelings and feelings into emotions and actions.

It’s not necessary (or helpful) to push away uncomfortable feelings, rather we can look at them like beacons that guide us back to center. We can greet them with kindness and empathy and allow them to nudge us back to center so that we can act from a sense of self-knowledge, values, and clear intention.

When I bring myself back to center in a difficult situation, I gain insight into how to respond rather than reverting to knee-jerk, habitual, patterned reactions.

Here’s one of my favorite prānāyāma practices for centering. It’s a breath counting practice. You can do it with numbers, or with a mantra that’s meaningful to you (count syllables instead of numbers). Mantras can catalyze the effect of the breath on your nervous system. Here I use “Hari Om Tat Sat” as an example. It means something like, “That which is true,” or  “Salutations to the true loving, blissful reality.”

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Sit with your hands on your lap and your eyes closed or softly open. This practice will take about 5 minutes. First make sure you are comfortable. Then take a few free breaths. When you are ready, start counting as described below.

Stop if you get to a number that feels like you are straining and return to the previous easeful number. This practice should always feel easy, never strained, or forced. Please don’t push yourself – it defeats the purpose. The numbers can last a little more or a little less than a second, depending on what works best for you.

  • 4 inhale, 5 exhale (for 2 breaths)                          
  • 4 inhale, 6 exhale (for 2 breaths)                          
  • 4 inhale, 7 exhale (for 2 breaths)                     
  • 4 inhale, 8 exhale (for 7-10 breaths)                     
  • 4 inhale, 5 exhale (for 2 breaths)  

OR

  • Om Tat Sat Om (inhale)    Ha Ri Om Tat Sat (exhale)  (for 2 breaths)
  • Om Tat Sat Om (inhale)    Ha Ri Om Tat Sat Ha (exhale)  (for 2 breaths)
  • Om Tat Sat Om (inhale)    Ha Ri Om Tat Sat Ha Ri (exhale)  (for 2 breaths)
  • Om Tat Sat Om (inhale)    Ha Ri Om Tat Sat Ha Ri Om (exhale)    (for 7-10 breaths)                    
  • Om Tat Sat Om (inhale)    Ha Ri Om Tat Sat (exhale) (for 2 breaths)

Then stop counting. Breathe freely, tune in and take note of how you feel.

Here’s an example of how you could use an English intention/mantra. The first phrase is your inhale, the second, your exhale. The numbers are a little different, but it’s okay to be a little creative until you find the phrase that really resonates with you:

  • I am peaceful  (inhale)                I am peaceful  (exhale) (for 2 breaths) 
  • I am peaceful  (inhale)                I am peaceful and free (exhale) (for 2 breaths)
  • I am peaceful  (inhale)                I am peaceful, I am clear (exhale) (for 2 breaths)
  • I am peaceful  (inhale)                I am peaceful, I am centered (exhale) (for 7-10 breaths)
  • I am peaceful  (inhale)               I am peaceful (exhale) (for 2 breaths)

I wish you a very peaceful and centered holiday season. Please keep an eye out for Holiday Survival Tips Part 2 next week.

Looking for a unique holiday gift? How about a membership to the Subtle Yoga Resilience Society? Find our more here.

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