By The FIRM Master Instructor Kelsie Daniels
The holiday season is once again upon us. And because I am one of those people who fully enjoys holiday dining, I have to prepare myself for the usual question that comes as I am stuffing my face: “How do you stay in shape?” One of the people who always asks me this question is my dear Aunt Jo. She asks it every year and then follows with how she wants to start working out and eating right.
Slow, in our culture, is a four-letter word. Slow is lazy. It’s unmotivated. It’s got an attitude problem.
Fast is where it’s at. Fast-track your career. Fast-burn your fat. Get results … fast!
I like fast as much as the next mom. I badger my children to tie their shoelaces faster, eat their dinner faster, make their beds faster. We run for the school bus, race to piano lessons, zip to the grocery store.
I’m just going to say it … I think the holiday season needs a radical overhaul.
We see ads for the perfect holiday meals, served in a lovely setting where everyone is smiling, especially the gracious host. Truth is, in order to achieve this type of perfection, we nearly kill ourselves with stress trying to get that end result.
I’m sure your mind, like mine, is kicked into high gear this time of year to attend to the million things you have to accomplish between now and January first, but time is limited and your body begins to suffer. It will only be a short time before insomnia and exhaustion set in. Instead of enjoying our time with loved ones, we can wind up emotionally unavailable and stressed out.
The holidays are a festive — and often frantic — time of year, with family and friends gathering together. The setting for all these celebrations takes place in our homes, where creating comfort for our guests is the primary focus.
It’s the holiday season … a time of dark, cold mornings, short days and busy nights, tending to the hustle and bustle of getting things done for various holiday celebrations, all the while gorging ourselves on delicious — but often calorie-laden — holiday foods. The average day passes quickly, and you usually find yourself collapsing into bed at the end of it feeling completely exhausted.
In 2006, Rodney and I had the privilege of taking a few classes with Mr. Iyengar. When it came time for Headstand, I informed the yoga master that I didn’t do them — I have a seizure disorder that I always felt was aggravated by Headstands. He told me, in no uncertain terms, to stand on my head now! And I did. I stayed up, and only came down when he said it was time.
By then, the rest of the class had moved on to Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose), and, trying to be a good student, I came down from Headstand and sat right up to join the rest of the class. That’s the point at which he slapped my back and said, “That is your problem, not Headstand: You transition too quickly and mindlessly. I am sure that you do this in your life as well. You never let anything settle in.” Wow, what an acute teaching for a chronic issue!
The holiday season is upon us, with many of our thoughts turning to food. The popular adage “you are what you eat” is literally true, according to new research that claims a person’s diet has a profound influence on their brain function and overall health.
Just as our eating style reflects and affects who we are, I believe how and where we live reflect ‘us’ even more. Our homes are intimate expressions of ourselves. Similar to the correlation between poor diet and disease, living in a toxic environment — in any sense, physical or emotional — also impacts our health in a negative way. Luckily, the opposite is also true. By creating an environment that supports our well-being, health and happiness, our bodies and minds will respond in positive ways.
The holiday season inundates us with recipes galore (as well as stress and temptations to overindulge). To balance that, choose an ingredient (or two, or three!) from my “healthy-self’ holiday recipe below, and treat yourself to a generous helping of grounding — whatever that means to you.
“The” holidays. Family. Close friends. The end of one year and the beginning of a new one. A time when one’s heart may be at its most vulnerable — either fully open to the warmth of all the love that the season can imply, or, perhaps, fully susceptible to the loneliness that can seem almost unbearable in the longing for family, a significant other, health, or peace of mind.
The Old Hollywood often embraced this season with films that touch the beauty within the soul of humanity, the best known and most enduring example being perhaps It’s a Wonderful Life which always plays innumerable times during this season (and in which I get lost each and every time I happen to flip to it when it’s on — I’m always hooked!).
For our family, another film has arisen as a classic Holiday film. Love Actually is “actually” that wonderful and it is a pleasure to be able to luxuriate in its dizzying and intoxicating recipe for joy, laughter, pathos, and life.
As autumn days get colder, we move our gatherings inside, to the coziness and comfort of enclosed spaces. The warmth in our homes comes from more than crackling fireplaces and steaming cups of tea. It comes from the people we surround ourselves with and bring into our vacant spaces. The genial sounds of wet boots squeaking on tile and the shuffle of jackets being hung to dry. Hugs and handshakes exchanged, smiles rising between rosy red cheeks.