By Kimberly K. Friedman, OD, FAAO, Moorestown, New Jersey
Dr. Friedman is a registered yoga teacher and instructor of yoga teacher training at the Yoga Center of Medford.
‘Tis the season to be jolly…but how do we do that when we are juggling the demands of the office, the family and the holiday season? The increased stress and responsibilities can certainly putting a damper on your holiday cheer and your health, as well. Here are a few yoga tips you can do right now to help you maintain your balance while increasing your energy level and mood at the same time.
Breathe—It sounds so simple and cliché, but when we get stressed we shallow our breath and increase our breathing rate, which then stimulates our sympathetic nervous system. Just stop and take a few deep full breaths, lengthening out the inhales and exhales. Try to get the exhales even longer than the inhales. It only takes a few seconds but the results are immediate and dramatic
Move—Find any empty room and try a few yoga poses. You can do all of these standing in almost any outfit, and no special equipment is involved. Just close your door to the office, or take a moment in between patients to try a few of these simple movements.
• Side bend. Inhale as you lift your arms overhead. Maybe even let yourself make a big yawning face or stick your tongue out and smile—no one can see you. Clasp your hands together and tilt to the right—don’t hold your breath—and then come up and repeat to the left side. Maybe when you release your arms back to your side, do a little forward bend to reach down toward your toes as well.
• Tree pose. This one requires a bit of balance but practicing physical balance poses can help you feel a bit more centered and balanced in life, too. Stand nice and tall and shift your weight to one foot. Lift your other foot and place it on the inside of your standing leg’s shin. Feel free to touch a wall for support or, if you feel balanced, raise your arms overhead. Hold for a breath or two and then repeat on the other side.
• Warrior II pose. Feel like you need some energy to get through the end of the day? Try warrior. This one could be a bit tricky in a skirt but start by spreading your arms and legs apart like a star. Pick one leg to start with and turn those toes to face forward and bend the knee on the same leg. Hold for a few breaths and then switch to the other leg…instant power!
Release self-judgment—We can’t, nor do we need to, do it all. Perfect is not our goal. Sometimes we just need to remind ourselves that this season is about our friends, family and the love and connections we share. Remember the memories of a happy, healthy, sane mom/doctor are more important than getting that last present or the cooking the perfect meal.