Sunday, December 13, 2009

Relax, Renew and Restore this Holiday Season

By Amy Phillips-Gary

One of my favorite personal holiday traditions is to take a restorative yoga class.

If you haven't heard of restorative yoga, let me clarify. This doesn't feel like much of a class where one must study, concentrate or work hard.

Instead, it is an experience that is truly a treat. It is also one way that I relax, renew and restore my body, mind and soul during the often hectic holiday season.

During a restorative yoga class, props such as bolsters and blankets are used to support the body as fully as possible. Practitioners lay in particular poses on the floor, recline over a bolster with their feet up a wall, or even drape themselves over the seat of a folding chair.

This might sound awkward or difficult, but with the assistance of props and skilled instructors, my body feels gently stretched and almost instantly better able to relax. I always leave a restorative yoga session feeling simply blissed out!

A yoga studio in my city, Yoga on High, offers restorative yoga classes throughout the year. My husband and I create the time to enroll in one during December as a holiday present to ourselves...and to those around us because we always feel so ease-ful afterwards!

Stress mounts within just about all of us this time of year. As holly jolly as we might want to feel, grumpiness can develop and our shoulders tighten right along with it.

You probably already know the detrimental effects of stress on your body, mind and relationships. Stress can contribute to strain and conflict between you and those you love. It can also make you physically sick.

For this reason, I encourage everyone to make relaxing and renewing a priority-- right up there with getting your holiday cards in the mail.

If the idea of restorative yoga doesn't appeal to you, open up to other ways to relax.

I posted a list of what I call “wellness intentions” on a cork board by my bed so that every day I am reminded of my priority to incorporate relaxation into my life. Included on this list are: meditating daily and doing yoga and cardiovascular exercise several times each week.

Your wellness intentions might be very different than mine.

For example, you might not practice meditation, but you can choose to put your lists away, turn off your phone, tv and computer for even 5-10 minutes and just breathe. It's amazing how just breathing can help to loosen tension and open you up to relaxation and renewal.

Believe it or not, paying attention to what you eat and drink is another way to restore yourself.

Of course, just about all of us indulge in foods and drink we might not normally partake (or consume as much of) at holiday parties. I suggest that you join in with these celebrations and savor those food and drink treats as you desire.

But be sure that you are also treating yourself to plenty of water and whole foods the rest of the time. You might include green foods such as spirulina or wheatgrass in a smoothie to boost your immune system and enrich your body.

Give yourself the gift of relaxation this year for the holidays. Make a commitment to yourself to develop your own wellness intentions that can help your body, mind and spirit stay renewed and restored.

*For more information about Restorative Yoga, you can visit these sites:

Restorative Yoga for Body and Mind-- General Information

Videos About Restorative Yoga

Directory of Restorative Yoga Instructors

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