Healthy for the Holidays with Yoga

Written by NCHPAD

The stress of the holidays can be a hindrance towards the enjoyment of being with family and friends, as well as time spent away from everyday routines.  To combat stress that might arise during the holiday season, physical activity is a wonderful outlet!  NCHPAD has a 12 Days of Fitness resource which includes 12 physical activity and health tips to integrate fitness into the holidays.

In addition to sticking with a regular physical activity routine, tracking steps and movement throughout the day is a great way to stay motivated.  A pedometer or activity tracker can be worn in a variety of places to track daily movement.  The usual health promotion goal of achieving 10,000 steps may not be appropriate for everyone, so determining a baseline and aiming to increase from there might be a better approach.

Yoga brings together the physical and mental to create a peaceful, relaxed body and mind. It helps to manage stress and anxiety while increasing flexibility, strength and range of motion. Practicing yoga might seem like just stretching, but it can do much more for the body, affecting the ways you feel, look, and move.  Try incorporating yoga that can be performed in the home or at a gym to de-stress during the holidays.

Yoga is truly for everyone.

For people with a disability, NCHPAD has an inclusive yoga video series for kids and adults.  Beginning with Inclusive Yoga: A Practice for Individuals with a Spinal Cord Injury, NCHPAD has changed the rules on what is possible when it comes to time on a mat.  This video is a first-of-its-kind yoga practice encouraging poses to be performed outside of the chair to create a challenging and beneficial routine.  The video consists of a full 30-minute routine showing adaptive and traditional poses.

The series also includes a set of four inclusive poses with a photo and text description for each.

  • Ujjayi Breathing
  • Downward Facing Dog/Child’s Pose
  • Upward Facing Dog/Cobra
  • Seated Spinal Twist

For kids with a disability in particular, yoga can help them breathe deeper, concentrate longer, and increase their self- confidence. In this 11-minute video, Kids Adaptive Yoga, it is demonstrated how yoga can be adapted for kids of all abilities.

These videos can be performed from the comfort of the home, reducing many barriers to being physically active during the holidays, such as time, cost and motivation.  Yoga classes are also available at many fitness centers and private studios.  When heading out to a yoga class, here are 7 Inclusive Yoga Tips to be familiar with:

1. Know what class you are attending – Look for beginner, intermediate, or advanced recommendations on the class description, or call ahead to find out.

2. Do your research – The instructor might not be familiar with how to adapt certain movements during the class, so it is helpful to research some adaptive yoga moves before attending your first class in order to be prepared to participate independently.

3. Dress appropriately – Wear clothing that you can easily move and stretch in.

4. Introduce yourself to the instructor – Before class begins introduce yourself to the instructor and let them know that you may be adapting some poses to work better for you.

5. Mix working poses with resting poses – Many instructors will encourage coming into a resting pose such as Child’s Pose when necessary during a class.

6. Focus on your own personal practice – Everyone’s yoga practice will not look the same, so try not to compare yourself to others.

7. Define your practice – Determine your purpose for practicing yoga, set some goals and continue working towards them.

When holiday stress builds up, grab a mat and get healthy for the holidays!