How yoga can help you de-stress during the holidays

yoga class

This content is brought to you in partnership with YWCA Central Carolinas. All opinions are our own.

The holidays are supposed to be a time of cheer and festivities, but that’s not always the case after you’ve had to survive a family gathering or two (or nine). Drinking an extra adult beverage and gorging yourself on cheese straws are not the preferred methods to help yourself better, either.

Leslie Misenheimer, a yoga instructor at YWCA Central Carolinas, has some tips and tricks that can get you into a more zen place, even if you have to tolerate your Uncle Bob’s manifesto on how young people ruined everything.

“As I move into the holiday season, I’m reminded of how chaotic life can get and how easy it is to be consumed and controlled,” says Leslie, who’s been working in the fitness industry for 23 years. “Yoga has become a wonderful tool to help me stay in the moment as I move and breathe. It helps the internal connection of mind, body, and spirit, allowing for more peace, kindness, and love.”

If you’re looking to find the right yoga practice for you, Leslie recommends trying a variety of classes to see what works for you. There’s no one-size-fits-all when it comes to downward facing dog, pigeon or happy baby.

“Yen and deep stretch type classes are helpful for releasing fascia and muscles,” says Leslie. “They hold poses longer and allow one to be more meditative.”

One great first step is taking Yoga 1 classes at the YWCA, where you’ll learn the pose basics. As you lean more deeply into your practice, you can move into Yoga I/II and move through the poses, holding them for short periods of time.  Then if you’re really on a roll, sign up for Yoga II/III to move more actively with each breath.

Leslie also recommends taking three deep belly breaths to get instantly more relaxed, especially if you’re feeling stressed around family and friends. And if you need a total escape, she recommends setting aside time during the holidays to escape your relatives and head over to the YWCA for a little R&R.

Visit the front desk and activate a free 4-day visit pass, and spread your visits out over a 2-month period so that you can sample different class styles, and/or utilize the indoor heated pool, weight room, and cardio room.

“YWCA’s environment is unlike other gyms – it’s for all types of people looking to get fit and what that means for them,” says Cassandra D’Alessio, Director of Marketing at YWCA. “Going to the gym shouldn’t be stressful. It should be the place where you are able to come and be yourself and do what you need to feel good – especially when things are crazy in every other aspect of your life which is especially true around the holidays.”

If you’d like to learn with Leslie, check out her current schedule:

  • Aqua Yoga in the pool: 9 a.m. to 10 a.m.
  • Yoga I/II in the studio: 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Ready to shake the holiday stress with Leslie? Learn more or sign up for classes here.

To learn more about the YWCA, visit their website.


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