The holiday season can be so stressful. One morning this week I had such a difficult time getting my kids dressed, fed, and out the door, that I seriously worried I was going to have a heart attack. My older son needed little gifts, under 10 cents apiece (?!), individually wrapped, for his 18 classmates. I assembled candy cane reindeer late the night before (I know, he should have helped - that's a whole other story) and all that was left to do in the morning was for him to write his name on the cards.
Sounds simple enough, but... He took his time getting out of bed, took his time getting dressed, and took his time signing the cards while I hurried him along and tried to keep him focused, meanwhile the clock kept ticking toward 7:05 - carpool time.
At 7:00 he was finally done with the cards, but I hadn't had time to make any breakfast or any lunches. It was perhaps our most stressful morning ever.
So after I got him over to our neighbor's for carpool (on time!) and after I drove my younger son to his school, I debated about whether I should go home and crawl back into bed or go to the studio and lay on my mat.
I figured that if I took a nap while I was so stressed that I'd probably wake up still stressed, so I opted to stop by the studio for some gentle, grounding practice. And oh, it was exactly what I needed.
Often in my classes I say that I wish we'd taken some "Before" photos so that people could compare how their bodies and their poses look before and after yoga practice. It's really remarkable. I *so* need to start doing that.
That day was the first time that I wish I'd taken a "Before" picture of myself. When I walked into the practice space, I still felt seriously stressed. My body felt fine (or so I thought). I lay on my mat and just breathed for a while. I felt some tightness in the back of my pelvis. As I went through some slow movements, I realized that I was pretty tight all around my thighs and in my calves, hips, upper back, chest, arms, and hands. I was tight pretty much all over.
So I just allowed my body to be my guide and I slowly worked through bigger and deeper asana to release the tightness. I didn't do any fancy handstands or arm balances; I just mostly laid on my back or stood on hands and knees and breathed and moved around a bit.
And by the end of an hour I felt like a brand new person. The crushing stress was a distant memory. My body, which I thought had felt fine before, now I felt amazing. I had a newfound sense of freedom in my body which was evident whenever I walked or moved.
I felt so amazing that I remembered to take an "After" photo. Here I am, at the onset of an allergy attack, with not a speck of make up on. The glow on my face is due entirely to my simple little yoga practice.
I tell you this story because I think we all need reminding - we all forget sometimes - how amazing we feel when we practice yoga. Life gets busy and we think we don't have time to roll out our mats. But during those crazy, busy times is when we need yoga most. For our health. For our sanity. So we can be our best selves in the various roles we play.
Wishing you peace, joy, and love this holiday season.