Thanksgiving yoga sequence

Thanksgiving Yoga Sequence to Help You Digest and Detox

There may be some overeating.

Scratch that, it's a certainty.

Use this Thanksgiving yoga sequence to prepare and repair

There's always the possibility you won't eat too much. You may decide to fill up on water before embarking on the tradition of expandable pants and indigestion. But in case you decide to indulge, both preparing your body beforehand and fixing what's just a little bit broken after your meal will have you feeling totally normal (almost) by Friday.

Critical information about why we practice a specific Thanksgiving yoga sequence both before and after a feast:

  • Twists are amazing for purging and aiding in digestion. When we twist, we massage our abdominal organs and deliver a fresh supply of blood to that area of our bodies. Twists also create internal fire, Agni. This also contributes to our ability to move food throughout bodies and eliminate effectively.
  • Forward folds are downright fabulous in our pursuit of digestion and for decreasing bloating. Bloating sucks, right? Let's eliminate that with some gentle compression to the organs that live in our abdominal cavities.
  • Backbends stretch our abdominal organs really well. Space is good. The action of expanding and contracting gets things moving. We're gonna do a bunch of this.
  • Releasing excess gas is a must after a big meal. There are a few poses that really help with this.

Practicing a special Thanksgiving yoga sequence so you can thoroughly enjoy your meal and time with family is, most importantly, a loving way to be present. Because it will ensure you're not distracted and irritated by what's going on in your belly, it's a damn good idea. Comfort is a priority. Share this with those you've included in your celebration. It's a simple sequence that's designed as beginner-friendly. Perhaps practicing together will become a sweet and integral tradition starting with this holiday season.

Thanksgiving yoga sequence for digestion and comfort

  • Begin in Balasana (Child's Pose). Breath deeply. Keep your knees together so they help with compressing your belly. Stretch your arms forward, keeping your forearms off the ground.
  • Slither through into Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose). Move back to Child's Pose and repeat the sequence 3 times.
  • From Cobra, move into tabletop position. Thread your left arm under your right and lay your head and shoulder to the ground. Enjoy the twist and shoulder release. Make some noise. Move on to the other side.
  • Move through Cat/Cow pose. It's one of the very best actions to stretch and compress the organs of the belly. It's also good for anxiety. If your holiday celebration offers none of that, super news. But just in case...
  • From tabletop, move into Downward Facing Dog Pose. Stretch everything. Think of your body like a wishbone (see what I did there?) and apply equal amounts of pressure in your hands and feet. Hold for several breaths and step forward to the top of your mat.
  • Remain in Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend). Enjoy the massage action applied to your abdominal muscles and organs and reset your central nervous system. Walk your feet hips distance apart.
  • Squat down in Malasana. Sit on a block or other prop if that feels better on your hips and knees. Move your left arm in front of your left shin and raise your right arm high in a twist. Hold for a few breaths and do the other side.
  • Sit down and come laying on your back. Bring your left knee into your chest and lay your right leg straight on the ground in Wind Relieving Pose. It does exactly what it says. Repeat the action on the other side.
  • Conclude your practice in Supta Badda Konasana (Reclining Cobbler's Pose). You could also place a block under your sacrum for a slight backbend if you feel inclined.

Enjoy the pleasures of food, loved ones, and downtime. I hope this Thanksgiving yoga sequence aids and abets you in this pursuit. Happy holidays!


3 Ways to Harness the Power of Yoga to Balance Food Cravings

3 Ways to Harness the Power of Yoga to Balance Food Cravings

Everyone knows what it’s like to crave something yummy without actually feeling hungry for it. Whether it’s sweet and decadent or salty and crunchy, sometimes our cravings cause us to lose our grip on our self-control and indulge in those guilty pleasures.

Food cravings are especially difficult to keep under control during the holiday season when baked goods, alcoholic beverages, and heavy comfort foods are abundant. Combine that with the stress of having to get all the holiday shopping, event planning, decorating, entertaining, and other tasks done in a matter of weeks and you’ve potentially got a high-sugar, high-fat recipe for disaster (no pun intended).

Believe it or not, yoga can help. Some research has shown that mindfulness-based interventions like yoga can help to enhance treatment, prevention, and recovery of addictions. And yes, that includes those food cravings that make us feel like we're practically addicted to eating.

So next time you find yourself pining for a bag or chips or an extra large piece of chocolate cake, look toward your practice. Here are three ways you can tweak your yoga practice to help you get through the holidays without packing on too much extra weight.

 

Practice Yoga to Reduce Anxiety and Stress

Anxiety and stress cause us to reach for tempting foods in hopes that they’ll soothe (or at least dull) our emotions. They may work temporarily as a distraction, but you\re likely to end up feeling worse than before.

As a preventative strategy, you can target anxiety and stress imbalances by integrating yoga sequences into your practice designed to help you wring out negative energy from the body and mind. Think restorative poses like forward folds and empowering poses like the warrior poses.

 

Breathe to Mindfully Observe Your Cravings

In yoga, we move our bodies to the rhythm of our breath, but conscious breathing alone increases awareness. Sitting in easy pose while focusing on your breath may be all that you need to become aware of where your cravings are really coming from.

If you’re interested in trying other forms of pranayama, nadi shodana (alternate nostril breathing), is a powerful breathing technique worth trying. It’s thought that this breathing technique helps to restore balance between the two hemispheres of the brain to promote greater physical, mental, and emotional well-being.

 

Meditate to Focus on the Foods You Desire

You’d think that to avoid giving into cravings, doing your best to ignore and avoid temptation would be the key to success. Interestingly, a study suggests that the opposite may be true.

When study subjects consciously imagined food first before given the opportunity to indulge, their food cravings were curbed and they indulged in smaller amounts compared to subjects who were asked to imagine scenarios unrelated to food. This suggests that using mindfulness meditation to focus on tempting foods before actually eating them may actually help you want less, so you can eat less.

 

While we always encourage our readers to do their best at seeking to balance their indulgent food choices with moderation, we understand that many could use a little extra help around this time of year. For this reason, Yogi Surprise members will be receiving their very own copy of Sugar Detox: Three Weeks to Healthier, Happier, More Balanced Life by Filippa Salomonsson in their December Lifestyle boxes to help them star the New Year off right.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!


5 Eco-Friendly, Nature-Inspired Holiday Decoration Ideas

5 Eco-Friendly, Nature-Inspired Holiday Decoration Ideas

Whether you’re a yogi who celebrates Christmas, Hanukkah, the Winter Solstice, or any other December holiday or tradition, taking inspiration from nature for your decor is an inexpensive and eco-friendly way to celebrate.

If you have a little extra time and a crafty DIY side, making your own decorations from wood, pinecones, moss, leaves, acorns, berries and other pieces of nature can be a fun and rewarding experience—especially if you have kids who’d like to get involved.

Our Yogi Surprise members will be receiving two special decorative gifts in their December Lifestyle boxes, but here are a few more decorative ideas for our members and Yogi Journal readers who really want to get into the holiday spirit!

 

Golden Tree Branches

 

Image via Culturescribe

 

Go out into the woods and look for branches that have already fallen to the ground (to avoid having to break any off of the trees). Mediums-sized branches with a long end and several smaller branches at the top are ideal.

Get some non-toxic gold (or even silver) paint and spray them or use a brush to give them a shiny holiday look. Simply add them to a vase and you’re done!

 

Cranberry and Rosemary Mason Jar Centerpieces

 

Image via Damask & Dentelle

 

Got a few mason jars around your home? They’ll make perfect centerpieces for when you have to entertain guests!

Fill them up with water, add several sprigs of rosemary and then drop a bunch of fresh cranberries into them before adding an all-natural floating candle on top. These make simple, yet festive centerpieces that are not only colourful but also very rustic looking.

 

Painted Pinecone Wreath

 

 

Real evergreen wreaths are lovely, but they certainly don’t last. If you know a pine tree or two that have shed all their pinecones for the season, gather them up and use them to make your own unique pinecone wreath.

Paint them in whichever colors you like before arranging and attaching them to a wire wreath frame. The blue one above would make a perfect decoration for celebrating Hanukkah or the winter season.

 

Glass Ball Ornament Terrarium

 

Image via Couleur Nature

 

Put a creative spin on traditional Christmas ball ornaments by getting clear glass ones and filling them with bits of nature. Glass is ideal because it’s a much more eco-friendly material, but if you have kids or pets, plastic ones might be safer.

Add soil, moss, twigs, plants and an optional ribbon for the top. Here are some detailed instructions for how to go about making your own!

 

Gold Dipped Acorns

 

Image via Housely

 

Acorns typically fall from oak trees throughout the autumn season, so if you know of one in your area, now might be a good time to go collect a few (if the squirrels haven’t already, of course).

Paint or dip the ends in gold or silver paint, leaving the tops bare. Tie some string or ribbon to the stems to hang them as cute little tree ornaments or simply place them in a bowl or glass vase as a centerpiece.


Peace and Seva

Peace and Seva

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” —Mahatma Gandhi

The sunlight has diminished, the weather is cold, and the holiday season is upon us. December marks a special time of year for celebration and reflection—not just for those of us who practice yoga, but for everybody.

It’s a time to recognize what we have, harness our gratitude, and let it inspire us to give selflessly. The Sanskrit word “seva” encompasses this beautifully.

 

The Meaning of Seva

“Seva” roughly translates to “selfless service,” or voluntary action taken without any thought or expectation of a reward in return. Although serving others selflessly causes everyone to benefit, it is always performed without any hope or goal of a specific outcome to be experienced by the individual performing it.

In yoga, we move through asanas to transform our physical bodies. However, when we go beyond the mat by performing seva in as part of our way of life, we develop our sense of spirituality in a way that has the power to transform our personalities.

Seva can help us become more aware of bad habits and behaviors that only serve our egos. The more aware we are of our egos, the greater opportunity we have to choose to be able to act and behave in ways that benefit the community and environment as a whole—not just ourselves alone.

 

Finding Peace in the Season

December is often a busy month for most people, but with a little extra prioritization, we can all take some time out of our hectic schedules to slow down and reconnect with the true nature of reality so that we may feel inspired to perform seva. It’s as simple as waking up 10 minutes earlier or staying up 10 minutes later than usual to go spend some time in solitude.

Staring out the window as the snow falls, going for a winter walk in the quiet and stillness of the woods, sitting down to meditate, journaling about the past year, or taking a warm bath with some calming aromatherapy essential oils are all great ways to reestablish a sense of peace and acceptance of everything as it is in the moment.

It is our sense of peace that will lead us to seva. When we feel at peace with ourselves and the state of reality, we’re much more likely to act in ways that benefit everyone as opposed to getting caught up in our own agendas.

 

Consciously Choosing Seva

Choosing seva is challenging, but worth it. In a world where we are conditioned right from birth to develop our egos, choosing to put others before ourselves can feel like going against our very own instincts.

This is why it’s important to start small. Hold the door open for a stranger, buy your coworker a coffee, send a personalized video message to a Facebook friend to wish them a happy holiday season, or offer to shovel your elderly neighbour’s driveway for free.

Most importantly, do it because it will make others feel good. You’ll feel good too as a result of making them feel good.

Happy Holidays from all of us here at Yogi Surprise!