Yes, I practice yoga and Ayurveda. I do postures, breathing, and meditation in the morning. Sipping hot water, scraping my tongue, and oiling my body are also daily rituals. I focus on clean eating and being in bed by 10:00 pm. I also have a job, a full social life and a loving family that is spread out across the world.
I’m going to make the assumption that you, like me, are engaged in work, family, and social activity while attempting to live a conscious lifestyle. We are not at a hermitage in the Himalayas, spending our hours in meditation, contemplation and chanting. We are householders, living our yoga both on and off the mat.
During the holidays when cheer and good company can really derail even our best efforts to live a balanced life, Ayurveda can serve as a guide. When fun-filled days may mean staying up past 10:00 pm more often; holiday treats and traditions mean eating off the organic/vegetarian/sugar-free/gluten-free grid; and having a cocktail or two means a sluggish morning, Ayurveda offers ways to maintain some equilibrium during the cheer:
Eat early. Ayurveda teaches that lunch should be the biggest meal of the day. The digestive fire is hottest at high noon, like the midday heat of the sun. I know—most parties are at night. Try to eat as early in the evening as possible, and avoid noshing for the rest of the night. If you’re hosting a gathering, consider making it a brunch or late-afternoon meal.
Balancing tips: Sip some ginger tea while eating heavy, savory foods. Add black pepper to your food to heat up your digestion. Eat your heavier foods first and lighter foods last.
Don’t stop moving. During the holiday season, keep doing your yoga. So many of us are overscheduled, overworked, and overtired during the holiday season. Continuing your yoga practice will support calm, stable energy; properly functioning digestion; and the patience to handle your busy schedule and those “challenging” relatives.
Try ginger for your GI tract. If you wake up in the morning feeling like a stuffed animal after that amazing cheese platter and that decadent flourless chocolate cake, don’t go out for breakfast or make pancakes at home. The course correction is to sip ginger tea until your appetite returns, which might take several hours. Ginger tea is warming, aids digestion, and burns off toxicity.
If you overdo it, rehydrate. It happens. When you drink a bit too much alcohol for your body’s comfort, the best remedy is to drown the hangover. Drink a glass of warm water in the morning (ice water slows down digestion). Drink coconut water—which is so hydrating that it was reportedly given intravenously during World War II when IV saline solution was in short supply.
Enjoy! It's a season of community, comfort and celebration. As best you can, try to go with the flow and be in the moments.