Stress Management for the Holiday Season

Teacher’s Corner is a new blog series written by one of mang’Oh’s most experienced (and well-loved!) teachers, Chintamani Kansas. Chintamani also teaches and mentors at mang’Oh’s Teacher Training each year. We will be posting Teacher’s Corner every two months, featuring a detailed look at issues and topics that are of particular interest to yoga teachers, both new and experienced. We hope you will enjoy Chintamani’s wealth of experience, as well as her fun and witty look at the world of yoga teaching!

In November at mang’Oh we kicked off our annual meditation series. The number one reason people reported signing up for the series was a desire to cultivate tools for stress management. This is no surprise. Our ancestors were stressed out, and they didn’t have the pace of life that we have, nor the requirement to constantly multi-task.  

Now that the holiday season is upon us, we need stress management tools now more than ever. Luckily, the yoga tradition is chock-full of tools to de-stress and return to our calm center. Even in the middle of the holiday frenzy!

Here are some techniques we can use in our daily life. No yoga mat required.

Take a Break

Interrupt your busy or stressed thought process. Do a little breathing or have a nice beverage. Even a few minutes of interrupting the flow will reduce stress hormones quickly, and help you return to center.

Remember who you are

One of the primary tenets of yoga philosophy is that we are already calm, peaceful and well. We just keep forgetting. Imagine that you have a place of calm, peace and wellness inside of your heart. Take a few breaths and cultivate this idea. Like the calm at the center of a hurricane, you have a core of inner peacefulness that is always there, whenever you need it. If you don’t believe me, just pretend. It will still work!

Breathe

Relaxed, even breaths. Observe your breath as it comes and goes. If your breath is not relaxed and even, make it so. After some time, begin to simply watch it., without control. This is mindfulness of breath.

Pleasant smells

Lavender is often reported to soothe the nervous system. You may prefer tea tree, or other scents. Experiment with candles, hand lotions, or essential oils to “dial it down” as necessary. Carry them in your bag or briefcase, or apply them at bedtime.

Relaxing Music

Slow down your brainwaves. Download some relaxing music on Itunes or Spotify and keep on a device near your bedside with a pair of headphones. Any time your busy mind overwhelms you, even in the middle of the night, you can put on your music and do what you can to relax.

Redirect your Mind to Friendliness

Your mind is always going to be thinking something. It may as well be thinking something good. Maitri, or Loving Friendliness, is an time-honored meditation tool for cultivating wholesome states of mind. Pause in your day and think to yourself “May we be happy. May we be healthy. May we be safe. May we be free of suffering. May the same be true for all beings.”

Keep going to Yoga or Stretch at Home

Focusing on a stretch, a sensation in the body, a sensation of breath, a releasing of tension—these are all ways of practicing mindfulness—or “paying attention to the present moment, on purpose, and without judgment.” Mindfulness is built into a yoga practice. Further, tensions of the mind are stored in the muscles of the body. Relieving tension in the body releases tension in the mind. It is a continual feedback loop. The Hatha yogis believe that there is subtle energy in the body as well, and the yoga postures cleanse the energy, transforming stress energy into balanced calm energy. Most yoga classes should help you with relieving stress and practicing mindfulness.

In addition, there are specialized classes such as Restorative Yoga, Stretch and Meditate, and Yoga Nidra, many of which we have here at mangOh!

May we be happy, healthy, safe and free of stress this Season!

About The Author:

Chintamani teaches classic and specialty yoga in New York City, and is a longtime Teacher Trainer in the mang’Oh 200-hour Yoga Teacher Training Program. She continues to study yoga, yoga therapy and other healing modalities, including Anatomy, Pilates and Mindfulness Meditation. Chintamani is certified in Embodied Anatomy and Yoga and Kane School Pilates.

Chintamani’s classes blend mindfulness, alignment and joyful movement; encouraging safety and skillfulness, as well as freedom and expression. Chintamani’s mission is to get us all to move, breathe, find our joy, and feel connected and smart.

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