Collier and Lee Counties Edition

Easing Holiday Stress with Yoga and Mindfulness

Jennifer Lynn Robbins in child’s pose at Sonrisa Yoga & Dance Studio, Naples

Jennifer Lynn Robbins in child’s pose at Sonrisa Yoga & Dance Studio, Naples

According to the American Psychological Association, many individuals are stressed by the feeling of having a lack of time, a lack of money and the pressure to give or get gifts during the holiday season. Ideally, holidays are intended for relaxation, spending quality time with family and friends, celebrating and giving thanks, but realistically, work obligations get mixed in with holiday planning, entertaining and shopping, all of which require attention.

As a result, the holidays can feel more burdensome than rejuvenating. All of this may hint at why 45 percent of Americans that may be without coping mechanisms for handling stress would prefer to skip Christmas, according to a survey from Think Finance.

Simple Coping Mechanisms from Mindfulness and Yoga
There are simple coping mechanisms and relief available. Rather than an “all-or-nothing approach” to coping with stress, begin to identify not only the recurring thoughts that cause stress, but also the physical sensations in the body signaling that stress is beginning to gain momentum.

Whenever these occur direct attention to the breath—sense its flow in and out through the nostrils and notice how it feels—cool on inhalation and warm on exhalation. “Doing this for even five minutes engenders a sense of well-being. It is one of the principles of the mindfulness-based stress (MBSR) reduction course that I teach,” says health and wellness coach Laura Baltodano, who will present a free Mindful Living workshop on December 13 at City of Palms Chiropractic, in Fort Myers. Baltodano, a certified mindfulness teacher, is also a doctor of veterinary medicine and a registered yoga teacher.

Another technique that interferes with stressful thoughts is to direct attention to the crown of the head. Next, move it to the forehead, followed by the cheeks, ears, mouth, neck, shoulders, front and back of the chest, stomach, lower back, hips, pelvic area, thighs, knees, calves and ankles, soles and toes of the feet. Repeat this. As thoughts arise, just notice them and continue with moving the attention through the body.

MBSR offers a method for consciously and systematically working with the stress, pain and illness, and challenges and demands of everyday life. Individuals that learn mindfulness discover ways to participate in their own health and well-being. It teaches them that between stimulus and response, there is a space of freedom and power in which to choose a different choice that will serve them better.
“Child’s pose (balasana) is one of the great rest poses of hatha yoga, and is known to benefit the digestive and nervous system. The pose allows for the release of all muscular tension and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, bringing a feeling of calm and safety. For even greater relaxation, try the restorative version, with head and torso resting on a bolster,” says Alan Lowenschuss, owner of Sonrisa Yoga & Dance Studio, in Naples.

Noticing the breath in child’s pose is also important. Observe it in its natural state without changing or superimposing a specific pattern or intention onto it. Note how the breath reflects the emotional state, as well as how it changes, as the pose is held longer.

The key to the healthful benefits of these techniques is consistency and regularity. Performed occasionally, MBSR offers a temporary emotional lift. The real benefits come when MBSR or yoga become everyday practices. Tuning in to the inner state of being is the source of power to heal the body, calm the emotions and stabilize the mind.

Baldono’s free workshop at Palm’s Chiropractic, 11621 S. Cleveland Ave., Ste. 80, in Fort Myers, is a preview of the eight-session series of weekly MBSR courses beginning Jan. 27 and 31, 2019, respectively. Both are preceded by orientation sessions. For more information, call 509-339-3129 or visit

Sonrisa Yoga & Dance Studio is located in the Dutchess Center, 9853 Tamiami Tr. N., Ste. 228, in Naples. Call 888-689-9642 or email Smile@Sonrisa.

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