by Ashley West Roberts
[This post originally appeared on Ashley’s Blog]
I am just going to come right out with it. We don’t do the holiday hustle and bustle in our house. In fact, most Decembers you can find us in Mexico or Hawaii or some other warm place straight CHILLEN. But unless you stay in the house all season long, you are going to have to deal with the disaster that has become the holidays in the US. Not interested in the crazy (and by crazy I mean, oh let’s see, camping out at Target for several days, or living off a diet of Christmas cookies for two weeks or pretending to like yet another gift you never wanted or needed in the first place) check out my survival skills for the holidays:
Do not allow yourself to get swept up in all the hooplah. Sit down this weekend and make a plan for how you want your holiday season to go. What are your priorities for this time of year? My partner and I decided we want two things from the holidays this year: To take plenty of relaxing down time and to do some kind of service in our community. Sit down with your family and plan out what you all really want to do over the holidays and make it a priority. Just because you went to Grandma Janes house for the last 5 years does not mean you have to go this year. Politely explain that this year you are trying something different.
DO NOT REGRESS.
I repeat, do not regress. Spending the holiday with family can be beautiful but it can also be stressful. If you notice yourself acting childish around your mother or being the “boss” to your younger sibling, take a moment and pause. Remember that you are an adult and you should conduct yourself as such. Also, give your family members the space to do the same.
Communicate wisely without being defensive.
Come up with one liners that easily shut down a conversation you’re not open to having. Your family may not agree with your dietary habits and things can become tense around the dinner table. “My body feels great when I eat this way” is a short and effective response. Or, perhaps a family member is disapproving about the way you celebrate with your children.You can simply say ” celebrating this way brings our family so much joy”.
When all else fails….BREATHE.
When all other strategies fail, simply return to your breath. It’s seems obvious but it works if you do it. If you feel yourself getting worked up or stressed, take a moment of pause or excuse yourself to the restroom and do this simple meditation.
Sit quietly and focus on how the inhalation and the exhalation FEEL. Match the length of your inhale and your exhale. Image a small circle around you-your personal space- and remember that you are in control of this space. Remind yourself that no judgement and no drama can come into this space unless you allow for it. As you breathe make space for yourself to be just as you are and for your friends or family members to be as they are.
Ashley believes whole-heartedly in movement and meditation as practices for self healing. Her goal as a teacher is simply to help you become more yourself. She stresses “yoga is not one more thing to be good at” but a daily process of checking in with what is present.
Ashley’s classes are anchored in the traditional teachings of yoga sprinkled with experiential anatomy and creative play. Her classes are informed by her background as a classically trained dancer, daily meditation practice and her passion for minimalism and simple living. It is her greatest pleasure to integrate her yoga and dharma as taught to her by her teacher Katchie Ananda.
Ashley West Roberts