By Crystal McCreary
All the work I do throughout the year to maintain mind, body and soul balance is tested during the holidays. How easy it is to avoid excess when there are no Black Friday retail sales or stacks of pumpkin pies in the grocery stores reminding me that ’tis the season for epicureanism. The impulse to over-indulge in rich food, the discounted shopping options for gifts (and for myself) takes serious discipline for me to control. If I splurge and impetuously eat that extra Russian tea cake at Christmas (every hour), or that extra slice of my mom’s sour cream chocolate chip coffee cake at Thanksgiving (have mercy!), I can no longer simply will the extra pounds away like I did when I was 16. My love of food and impulse control creates a fascinating tension within me that requires a slower, more methodical approach to day-to day living during the holidays. My 30-something year-old metabolism now demands that I plan my meals, cook in advance for the week to avoid buying food out, and that I just say no, over and over again to the little devil on my shoulder that keeps telling me one more serving of corn bread dressing can’t possibility hurt that bad!
But wait. Can I just give a shout out to meditation’s role in all this, right quick!? Seriously. ‘Tis the season for me to take stock of how taking 15-45 minutes EVERYDAY for the past 9 months to sit with myself has truly made a notable difference in my life. I have lost five pounds. I feel more energized and optimistic. I’ve experienced more productivity with my yoga business, and I’m even acting again! (That last one is a particularly miraculous phenomenon. For real.) Sitting with myself daily and taking the time to become aware of how, when, why and from where the overwhelming urges to indulge come has been a revelatory experience and an effective impulse-control practice for me. Though I must confess, this was not my ultimate goal at all. I simply wanted to create a peaceful space in my harried day. I could no longer stand not recognizing myself and feeling more like a zombie on The Walking Dead, than like Crystal.
In the end, yoga is all about balance. Personally, I think it is thoroughly enjoyable to satiate our gourmandizing appetites now and again, and especially during the holidays. However, doing so without a matching program of mindfulness, exercise, cardiovascular stimulation, and relaxation can take a toll that adds up. Sometimes I look at my tummy and wonder: from which Christmas, exactly, did this extra layer of belly chub actually come from? Wellness is like practicing a balancing pose in yoga class: the body is constantly regulating to find homeostasis, be well, and to adjust to what we are doing to it and what is happening all around us. This process is living a healthy life! Becoming consciously aware of this process through yoga is a priceless gift.
This holiday season, get all of it: your eat, drink, and be merry, your asana, meditation, fitness, and relaxation on! And be prepared to step it up a notch here and there to adjust and maintain balance during this wonderful, indulgent season! Happy holidays, everybody!