Yoga 12 Days of Christmas

christmas ornaments floating in the surf to illustrate the yoga 12 days of christmas

These posts originally appeared on Facebook as the Yoga 12 Days of Christmas.  They are collected here in one place to be easier to find.  While the theme of these posts was applying these principles to the holidays, yoga truths are universal so use them all year long.

cuckoo clocks illustrating the idea of yoga sutra 1 yoga starts nowYoga 12 Days of Christmas – Day 1, Yoga Starts Now

This moment is a moment to practice.
It doesn’t matter if you didn’t practice yesterday, it’s past. Tomorrow isn’t here yet.
You can practice today, now.
Take a deep inhale, exhale slowly. You just did yoga.
Repeat at any moment.
Repeat in the checkout line when you’re late.
Repeat when you’re hungry.
Repeat when your kids are bugging you.
Repeat when the Christmas lights make you smile.
Repeat during your favorite holiday song.
Repeat, repeat, repeat.
You don’t get a repeat on any moment.
Make it a yoga moment in that moment.

pot of mulled wine to illustrate the yoga principle of ahimsa

Day 2 Ahimsa

Ahimsa is about being kind.
How can you practice kindness this holiday season with your food habits? Ahimsa, traditionally translated as non-harming, is why some yogis choose to be vegetarian or vegan. Kind eating can be about eating less meat but it can be more than that too.
During the holidays I hear a lot of comments about overdoing it with food. Being kind can be about not overeating and making yourself uncomfortable.
It can mean being kind to yourself by skipping the third helping of holiday cookies or all the other sweets that put you into sugar overload.
Being kind can be slowing down or laying off the alcohol…
or simply chewing your food well for easy digestion.
Whatever way you can apply some kindness to your relationship with food this holiday season will serve you well.

 

image of clear glass balls illustrating the yoga sutra satya

Yoga 12 Days of Christmas – Day 3, Satya

The holidays are filled with shoulds…
I really should send Christmas cards this year since I haven’t in 5 years
I should get Christmas crackers that match the place settings for Christmas dinner
I should get those parcels out ASAP so they’re under my nephew’s tree before Christmas.
Are any of your shoulds really life or death? If they don’t happen is it really an emergency?
How can you prioritize what’s important to you, your truths. Your truths are your needs. You need food, sleep, love and the rest is gravy. Soften the shoulds and prioritize your truths today.

 

a christmas present illustrating the yoga concept of asteya

Yoga 12 Days of Christmas – Day 4, Asteya

How can you be generous today? Not in the commercialized Christmas sense of buying more stuff, but of yourself.
Be generous with you…
give someone a compliment, a smile, a hug
call someone on the phone, write a Christmas card.
Show up for other people today and notice all the gifts you receive in return.

 

 

 

Yoga 12 Days of Christmas

Day 5 Brahmacharya

How can you be efficient with your energy and time today? The holidays can really pull us in so many directions. Instead of getting bogged down in how much there is to do, what can you let go of so you can focus on the good stuff?
Maybe tonight it’s take out
Use the paper plates
Go to bed early instead of watching that show
So the house is messy, it’s well lived in and loved.
You are more important than things.
Prioritize yourself today.

 

Yoga 12 days of Christmas

Yoga 12 Days of Christmas – Day 6, Aparigraha

Reading this, bring your hands to your heart, fingertips and/or palms touching in Anjali mudra. This is traditionally how you hold your hands at the end of a yoga class. Close your eyes, inhale and as you exhale, silently express thanks for a gift in your life…
the gift of yoga
the gift of the holidays
clean air, good weather, whatever makes you feel grateful.
Open your eyes, release your hands, spend a second with your feelings of gratitude before moving on to what else you need to do.
Do this twice more today.

 

yoga 12 days of Christmas

Day 7 Saucha

Your body is the most beautiful, complete thing that will ever be yours. Take care of it today…
Take a bath
Do your yoga practice – at home, in class, while skiing
Enjoy a cup of tea
Brush your teeth
Relish in the physicality of yourself today.

 

 

 

yoga 12 days of Christmas

Yoga 12 Days of Christmas – Day 8, Santosha

Contentment is more than a good laugh and being happy in the moment.
It’s being alright with what is, instead of striving for what’s not and will never be.
It’s being ok with a car that gets you places instead of lusting for the latest model that will make you worry you’ll get keyed whenever you park it downtown.
It’s accepting the lousy parts of life as part of life. It’s not always a bed of roses, but it’s not always lousy either.
It’s accepting yourself as you are.
You are complete and whole.
You are enough.
Today you are perfect.

 

a desert sunset illustrating the yoga concept of heat or discipline called tapas

Day 9 Tapas

We are all doing the best we can.
What would be your best today?
It varies day to day. Today might be a day to celebrate getting out of bed.
Or, today you might cross everything off your to do list.
Your best varies day to day.
Do your best today and let go of everything else.

 

 

 

A song to help you be your best today.

glass ball reflecting a tree to illustrate yoga philosophy

Yoga 12 Days of Christmas – Day 10, Svadhyaya

What can you learn about yourself today?
You might discover you detest peppermint lattes or scented pine cones.
Maybe you’ll figure out your desk chair is all wrong for you.
When you have that about to blow a gasket feeling because “that” Christmas song is on again, notice.
The better you get at knowing yourself off your mat, the better you’ll be at it on your mat.
Get curious and get to know yourself today.

 

 

 

yoga 12 days of Christmas

Yoga 12 Days of Christmas – Day 11, Ishvara Pranidhana

Today, can you remember the reason for the season?
Dedicate today to something larger than yourself, whatever that looks like for you.
Spend a minute to reflect on why you’re really here and how you can best express that.

 

Day 12 was a live talk about applying these principles to the other limbs of yoga – your movement, breath and meditation practices.  Do that in the way that works best for you.

Happy holidays one and all!

 

The companion article to this is 10 Tips to Sparkle Up Your Yoga Practice this season.

Last year’s Christmas yoga post was a DIY Christmas yoga ornaments article.

If you’d like ways to incorporate the Yamas and Niyamas into your practice all year long, read my book, There’s No P in our OOL, Using Yoga Philosophy to Transform Your Aqua Yoga Practice.

yoga 12 days of christmas

christa

I'm a yoga teacher who specializes in making yoga accessible for those with chronic health conditions in the pool and on land. My teaching style is engaging, responsive and fun. 

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