This time of year is special not only because we manifest gratitude and join our loved ones in celebration, but also because we give back. We focus on others by giving gifts and visiting loved ones.
The familiar song “12 Days of Christmas” is a reflection of love and giving—just like the essence of the anahata chakra, or heart chakra. When you tap into the feeling of love, you gain strength.
Although it is important to celebrate others during the holiday season, it is also important to celebrate yourself and your yogic journey. Practice one of these 12 tidbits of yoga inspiration each day to give yourself more love this holiday season.
1. Begin and end the day with gratitude. Say three things you are grateful for at the beginning and end of each day. Focus each of them in the center of your heart and feel the gratitude fill up every corner of your body, mind, and spirit.
2. Look in the mirror and smile. Recognize the true beauty that lives inside and out. Avoid negative words and say positive affirmations aloud. Although you might feel silly at first, making this a habit will have a positive impact on your day-to-day life.
3. Give back. There is nothing better than returning the blessings you have been given to those who need it more. Visit a soup kitchen, a homeless shelter, maybe make some goodie bags to give to those in need. Go through your closet and donate to charity. There is always something we can do to help others.
4. Pamper yourself with a morning session of abhyanga. This warm oil massage is great for sealing and protecting the skin, while giving your joints nourishment, improving circulation, and toning the muscles. Use a warm sesame seed or almond oil, and create friction from the outside limbs to the center of your heart. Then, take a nice warm shower to remove the excess oil.
5. Use aromatherapy to warm up the ambiance of your home. Great scents for winter include cinnamon, frankincense, spiced apple, and mint. Combining cinnamon and apples in a large boiling pot of water is an easy way to fill your home with scents of winter. In minutes, you can bask in the warm sweet smells of the holidays. Other great scents for aromatherapy include cedar, ylang ylang, fir, and juniper.
6. Meditate on gratitude by practicing trataka, or candle gazing. This meditation practice is great not only for concentration but also for warming the flame inside your mind’s eye—awakening your inner intuition and the ajna chakra.
7. Create a vision board of gratitude. A vision board serves as a daily reminder to focus on the good in your life. Take a few minutes and list the people and places you are thankful for, as well as those who have positively impacted your life.
8. Use your yoga practice as a way to slow down. Take a yin or restorative yoga class and relax.
9. Stop avoiding yoga poses that you dislike. We always avoid them and silently complain when the pose is brought into the sequence. Acknowledge this as a teaching moment and give gratitude.
10. Repeat this mantra, aham prema—I am divine love. Sit quietly in a special area that reminds you of how much self-love can improve your life. Being aware of this will take you out of any funk and put a smile on your face.
11. Be grateful for the ability to be grateful. Recognize your ability to do good in your daily life. Once we have this acknowledgement of gratitude, we can create devotions to daily tasks. Washing dishes, taking out the garbage, and brushing your teeth can all be seen as acts of gratitude. All emotional beings have this power, but only mindful ones practice it.
12. Read inspirational quotes or passages. Specifically, read the works of those who have dedicated their lives to the service of others. Let their actions inspire you to become a better human. Those who are selfless represent the real spirit of gratefulness. It is an honor to be human, and there’s no better way to thank our existence than by serving and inspiring others. Pay it forward and give back.
By practicing these 12 tips of yoga inspiration, we can keep the holiday spirit alive all year long. Giving thanks for the blessings and gifts in our lives will lead us on the path to being true yogis.