What does “Om” mean? We may find ourselves chanting it at the beginning or end of our yoga classes at the gym or even at home, but for what purpose? And how does that purpose translate to a bustling holiday season filled with office parties and cookie exchanges and concerts and secret santa?
According to Mindy Arbuckle, E-YRT and founder of Maitri Yoga Center, “Chanting Om brings into your awareness the physical reality of this world and your body, the subtle impressions of the mind and emotions and the thoughts and beliefs of your life and this world.”
If your holiday goals include connecting more with family and friends and honoring the spirit of giving and community, than adding “om” to your daily practice or routine just might be a perfect addition to your season and New Year.
But where to squeeze it in? There are easy ways to incorporate stretching, yoga, and meditation into your everyday routine to add some zen to your holiday season. Whether you are traveling to see friends and family, hosting them at your home, or enjoying the holiday spirit on vacation, there are so many ways to find your om before the New Year begins, and add a deeper level of connection to the season.
Yoga is a great way to stretch and strengthen your body, especially when you are pressed for time. You can sign up for a class at your favorite studio for a nice break from holiday activities. If you are visiting family or going on vacation, you could always look for a local yoga studio and schedule a few drop-in classes. It could be a great activity to do with your friends and family, too. Yoga class passes could make a great gift for your loved ones – or yourself!
Your yoga instructor may or may not encourage chanting “om” the class. Remember that the goal of finding your om is greater than just the act of chanting it. Yoga in itself will help bring deeper connection to body and spirit.
If you can’t find the time to go to a class, there are so many great online resources to practice yoga at home. Look for videos and ebooks to practice anywhere.
Just a few minutes of meditation can help you feel more centered. Meditation has been shown to relieve stress, improve concentration, and increase self-awareness. Meditation can also help reduce depression and anxiety, while also improving your focus, attention, and memory.
Try meditating first thing in the morning or right before bed to give yourself time to relax and reflect. There are many apps for your smartphone that can guide you through a meditation if you are new to the practice. You can also look for meditation classes at many yoga studios to help guide your practice. Again, signing up for a class could be a great healthy activity to do with your friends and family during the holiday season, or simply commit to 5-20 minutes on your own every morning.
Stretching is an important thing to do before and after workouts, but it can also give you time to relax, recharge, and get in touch with your body. Give yourself a few minutes to stretch each morning and notice how it improves your movement and comfort throughout the day.
When you wake up, stretch to lengthen the muscles in your legs, back, and arms along with a few gentle twists to relieve stress from your lower back and neck. You could even incorporate a few yoga poses like downward dog, cat and cow stretches, or bridges to stretch and strengthen those muscles.
What makes you happy? Finding your om doesn’t just have to come from yoga, meditation, or stretching. Anything that you like to do and brings you relaxation and connection can be a healthy way to reduce stress and gain perspective. Try to unplug from your phone, TV, and computer and do an activity that you find calming. Cooking, cleaning, listening to music, reading, and drawing are all ways to slow down, reduce stress, and feel centered. Even activities like shoveling snow and gardening can help you practice mindfulness. How about a winter hike with a view? Try to think about how you are feeling in the present moment, and not worry about to do lists or holiday plans, if only for a few concentrated minutes.
During the holiday season, try to include others in these relaxing activities. You can color with your kids, cook healthy meals with your family, or go for a walk with friends.
What do you do to center and find your om?