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Avoid the Holiday Bulge with Yoga

Who doesn’t love the holidays with its festive energy, social life and food galore? With this love of holiday cheer also comes the ubiquitous temptation of sweet treats and savory dishes. The average weight gain between Thanksgiving and New Years is one pound. That doesn’t sound too bad. But over five or ten years, those extra pounds can creep up on you and your waist.

To prevent your tummy from any added bulge, try these three simple and effective yoga strategies to keep your mind calm and your waistline slim.

1. Stay Focused: Just as you remain steadfast while holding your Warrior 1 posture, try this same technique the next time you are challenged with a buffet filled with cakes, cookies and glasses of eggnog. Take a step back and focus on the reason for why you are celebrating. If it’s a gathering of family and friends that you haven’t seen all year, turn your energy to them rather than the tempting smells and tastes that line the buffet table. Having quality conversation and connection with loved ones will fill you with more emotional satisfaction than any serving of cornbread stuffing can.

2. Limber Up Before You Fill Up: Before you begin a day filled with parties where food will be aplenty, dedicate 30 to 60 minutes to a yoga practice that combines both movement and quiet time. Hit an early morning yoga class or do your own home practice. Not only will getting in some form of movement rev-up your heart, but the calming effects of yoga will also arm you with the necessary peace of mind to confront any food challenges that await you throughout the day.

3. Breathe: Whether you’re faced with your aunt forcing a piece of her pumpkin pie on you or whether the stress of the holidays has you reaching thoughtlessly for fistful after fistful of salted cashews, calm your frenzied mind by taking a few rounds of deep breaths. If you can, escape to a quiet place, even if it’s just the bathroom and refocus your energy by closing your eyes and breathing in for five counts and breathing out for eight. Mindful breathing has a near magical way of taking you to that still platform of yourself where you can make eating decisions that are aligned with your best intentions for your health and heart.

The holiday season should not be about self-denial especially since so much pleasure comes from the sharing and consumption of delicious festive dishes. So when you do decide to indulge, do so with pure enjoyment and a clear mind so that you can savor each bite without feeling guilt or remorse.

Happy Holidays!

December 14th, 2008

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