Surviving the Holiday Season Without Falling Out Of Your Practice or Driving Yourself Too Crazy
Bodies and Voices
BY MAGAZINE COLUMNIST CARYN MIRRIAM-GOLDBERG
“Just a bite,” I told myself as I stood near the oneg (dessert-like substances served after Friday night services at a synagogue) reaching for the mini eclairs. Never mind that they were bland, and I hadn’t eaten sugar for a while. They tasted divine. Making the mistake of talking energetically about my daughter in college, who only was calling me when depressed while standing there, I ended up popping six in my mouth over the next ten minutes.
What was I thinking? Not much.
Within an hour, I felt kind of sick, which made it tough to get up the next morning to go to yoga.
And so it goes for me during the holiday season especially. Luscious and not-so-luscious things are places within arm’s reach at offices, parties, friend’s homes, even the coffee shop. After a while of a little bite here and a little bite there, I feel very much like a candy felon, and I lose that divine open heart of feeling like a yoga angel (although, truth to told, I only really feel that way during corpse pose after a challenging class).
Why do anything if it’s just a little?
There are countless magazine articles, books and talk shows about how to break the holiday pig-out pattern, and I’m not writing today to tell you what to do, only to say that it’s hard, and we have to find what’s best for us. Instead, I’m advocating that no matter what, we find our ways to the mat, even if it’s just to live in reclining cobbler (supta baddhasana) with our hands on our stomachs for five minutes one day and just to do three sun salutations the next.
Why do anything if it’s just a little? I’ve learned, and I’m sure most of you have too, that even a little yoga puts me back in touch with my body, and by doing so, my whole self. It’s a way of saying to the universe, “Here I am — all of me, and I’m breathing and living.” The universe answers, “Yes, you are,” and that, in itself, can help us remember (as in re-member — bring the members of our body back into wholeness) ourselves.
For me, that remembering will help me be an inch more mindful when passing the box of chocolates and an ounce more cognizant of how I want to treat myself when the pastries are tall and the mashed potatoes are deep.
Yoga reminds me that food is just food
At the same time, practicing yoga helps me forgive myself for my past incidents of hurting myself with food. It reminds me that food is just food, not the entry place to enduring pleasure and comfort, and what’s constant is the breath and body.
So even if it’s just a bite, and even if it works or doesn’t work so well for you, remember to make the time to return to yourself.
You can duck into a bathroom at a party and stand in Tadasana (mountain) for a few minutes. You can sit in your car and do alternate nostril breathing. You can walk into the middle of a bustling party and lift your chest, drop your shoulders, and open your heart to who you always are and have been.
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© 2011, The Magazine of Yoga, LLC.