Wednesday, December 23, 2009

DIY Holiday Guerrilla Yoga

As my contract ends and I've FINALLY written all 60 reports, plus made countless lists and cheat sheets for the person coming back from Mat leave... I can focus on making the trip home for the weekend. My last day is tomorrow, but after two long weeks of vacation (woot!) I will return to a new (although still temporary) position!

LED lights on our "Yule" Lights walk on Monday

These past few weeks I've been pretty darn consistent with practicing yoga at least two and often three-four times a week. Although the holidays often bring families together, they also bring families... well... together. I adore my family, but we all have our own little issues that don't get resolved magically through a nice lobster dinner (lol, alright, so WE eat creamed lobsters for xmas dinner/lunch...).

On my drive home today, all of a sudden I realized I needed a bit of a *plan* for my yoga practice while at home. Since this wouldn't be the first time I've brought my yoga mat with intentions of practicing, I have a few insights. I thought I'd share some of my strategies and thoughts on how to practice yoga while visiting parents and family and hopefully avoid the: "What ARE you doing??" look.

Step One:
Pack. Yep, may seem silly, but I've brought my mat and forgotten my yoga clothes before. I also forgot my mat... Step one is to actually pack your yoga "stuff" so that when you open your luggage/bag you'll see it there... reminding you silently of how awesome yoga is. While we lived in BC, I could actually fit my yoga mat in my luggage.. so no yoga mat bag needed!

Step Two:
Mentally review your stay. It's likely that Christmas Eve, Christmas morning will be "out" for yoga practice. At my house we have traditions... and downward facing dog isn't one of them.
Think about a few days and times that might work to steal away some practice. File them away as "options" to keep open. For myself, I'm thinking Boxing Day, Christmas afternoon or Sunday morning.
Accept that out of three options, you might only practice once, and you will be darn proud that you did!

Step Three:
Think about "where" you will be practicing. I've tried to practice in my parents living room, while they surreptitiously stayed away... but that was weird. Mom was vacumming, I was staring at their TV, dad went down the hall to go to the bathroom... yep. Not exactly ideal.
Right now I'll be hanging out in the "office" which will function as bedroom, office and yoga room. Other options might be the spare room, a friend's house or a local studio.

Step Four: 
Release expectations. Practicing away or at your parents house definitely is not the same as in a studio or at home. You definitely won't have the same space, but then as long as your mat fits, you are good to go. Swan dives can transform into arms out in front of you forward folds, or hands in prayer position fold. Perhaps some sequences from "Yoga Journal" or something from memory (like the sun sals) or one of The Joy of Yoga's sequences (which are awesome btw!)

Holiday practice is about releasing stress and reconnecting, so it doesn't have to be some crazy special sequence, it just has to do the trick. :)

Step Five:
Tell who you're staying with... I gotta say, it would be weird to just start practicing yoga while my mom was knocking on the door asking "Lisa, what are you doing in there???". I'll just let her know that I was hoping to get a short practice in during my visit and that it won't take away from "mom and daughter" time at all.

Step Six:
Let go. If you don't get actual asana practice in, don't worry about it. You can take a few moments each morning to sit with closed eyes and center. Take deep breaths if you feel old anger-frustrations arise. SING! Family is so beautiful and essential, enjoy your stay, however short or long, with love and laughter.

And if you get annoyed, take a few "yoga time outs" in your room. Go to the bathroom and do Lion Pose while staring yourself in the mirror and TRY not to laugh. I dare you.


article and photo copyright of EcoYogini at


  1. Based on my own experience, I'd say number six is by far the most important. Not being able to practice yoga can suck, certainly, but letting yourself get irritated and miserable about not being able to practice yoga is really really counterproductive...

  2. Have a wonderful Yule sweetheart. Keep practicing :D xx

  3. Thank you for sharing "lion" pose... that one is one to do at home it looks like.

    I hope your holidays are going great.

    The great thing about being a guy doing things like yoga is the expectations are so low...

    Thank you again for sharing.

    Tom Bailey

  4. This is a post that I can definitely relate to. I am the type of person that likes order and consistency and sticks to a pretty regular schedule - being thrown off for a week is hard. I'm trying to take classes at a local studio (which is really lovely!) but it's tough having completely different teachers and not knowing what to expect when I go into a class.

    Good luck with your home practice over the holidays!

  5. Great tips for continuing yoga practice - I need to employ them more at home, as well. May your practice this year continue to anchor your soul in what is essential and life-giving.

  6. I had this predicament when I went home the week before the holidaze.

    Fortunately, I had the space--an office with a futon for guests, where I slept. The only drawback was the cold--icy cold because of all the windows and ceramic tile. My poor body required extra heating for sure and numerous layers of clothing.

    Timing was not as important for me because I prefer to practice as the sun is coming up (before all but one of my family members woke)...some mornings noise was a factor because my father was moving around the kitchen with his little dog at his side, performing his morning routine.

    All in all, a practice in patience and acceptance, in being okay with where I was...which is the point for sure.

    Thanks for sharing :)

  7. my vote is practice other kinds of yoga aside from the asana. letting go is a biggie. taking meditative walks can be nice, too. great article...!


  8. It can be so difficult to practice when you're out of your usual space and routine.

    I think it comes down to accepting that sometimes the best things in life are the infrequent things. The things that we see as an infringement on our routine (like time with parents!) aren't going to be around forever - it's the Yoga of Appreciation (mixed with a serious dose of the Yoga of Patience and YES! the occasional Yoga of Locking Yourself in the Bathroom Away From Your Family.) ;P

    Great post!

  9. i found a little time to slip away from my family and go to a local yoga studio and get my practice in while i was on holiday. you are right, i am sure glad i did! hugs!!


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