Holiday Mindfulness with Wendy Zoog
Yoga teacher Wendy Zoog is the epitome of light and love. She embodies the grace and spirit you would expect to find in a yoga teacher, but it’s the unexpected that sets her apart. She always tells it like it is. She has what it takes to make us all look inward, make little changes here and there, dig deeper, relax better, let go of the wrong things and hold tight to the right things.
So many of us are d-o-n-e done with the phony-baloney holiday-card-moments, the make it all up, shine on the outside but crumble on the inside kind of season. We want to actually enjoy this time of year. We don’t want to just go here, buy this, decorate that, so that it looks like we’re “in the spirit.” We are better than that! We want to actually “be” in the holiday spirit.
So, we turned to Wendy. She never sugar-coats, she always lives from the heart, and she’s a seeker and a truth-teller. We asked her for some tips and advice on how to make this holiday season, well... holiday-ish. Instead of painting a picture of what we want the holidays to look like, we thought: let’s not tell a story, let’s be the story and live it right, from the inside-out.
What are your top three tips for staying mindful, less stressed, more present – and happy! – during the holidays (or any day, for that matter)?
Wait to react. You can certainly let yourself react to something when it happens, but the key here is: don’t express your reaction. Give your body 24 hours. When something pings your heart, you need to allow yourself time to absorb it, be with it, and then react intentionally. You’ll be so glad you did.
One of my favorite quotes my dad shared with me is “If things are in a mess, accept that they are in a mess. Everything doesn't have to be worked out right now.” How awesome is this!! And how true! I often say this to myself, and then do the deep breath in, deep breath out thing! Don’t worry. The gifts will get bought, the tree will get decorated, the food made, the laundry done, the… Try to remember this, it helps me so much: It always will get worked out.
Ditch the phone. Like seriously, ditch the phone. When it’s time to hunker down with family or friends, put it away, all the way away, in your purse, desk drawer, wherever. Be 100% available with both eyes, both ears, and your big heart. This means 100% of you is participating in something, and this means a lot to others – and to yourself! Like everyone else, I love to snuggle with my phone, it’s like my security blanket. But I recognize it truly is a big fat distraction and makes it next-to-impossible to stay actively and fully present! Ditch the phone. Store it some place safe and ENJOY being present.
What is your best advice to actually enjoy the rush and crush of the holidays? Too much energy is spent on how we can “get through the holidays.” How can we find (or hold onto!) the joy in the holidays?
Keep it simple. Don’t overbook yourself. Skip trying to hit a few parties or events in one weekend; pick one and really enjoy it. Trying to do it all can lead to stress and that’s the quickest way to deplete your joy. I have made it point to stop chit-chatting with 15 people at a party, but instead have good conversations with four or five people. Spreading yourself thin can lead to exhaustion, and who wants to feel like that during the most magical time of the year! We also make it a point to have a Sunday family breakfast, lunch or dinner together, especially during this busy holiday season, to catch up and be together!
What is your best advice on how to be inspired – and inspire others – during the holidays? We believe in the possibilities of raising the frequency of the energy all around us. Can small, big, internal, or external gestures impact us all? If yes, what would you suggest?
I believe in the power of touch! Try giving someone this season a long hug, not the pat-on-the-shoulder kind, but a big one! This allows someone to feel connected and valued. Even holding hands, which might sound super cheesy, but I really believe in the power and effects of touch. To feel a sense of touch-connection with someone is like a warm-fuzzy, and it releases oxytocin, the love hormone in our brains. It creates a sense of love and kindness, can be contagious. Good vibes all around!!!
Another thought… get out the old ornaments, figurines, memorabilia that remind you of the magic of the season. Let yourself take a little trip down memory lane. I always like to do this with my family, on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. We have great conversations about past holidays, which really helps to put us in the right frame of mind for another great season ahead. Plus, it reminds us of what truly matters, the values of the season, and all of the blessings we have and obstacles we have overcome.
Music really can feed the soul, and you are known for your amazing playlists. Outside the holiday hit-list, would you share with us a few of your favorite songs to keep our hearts pounding, our stretches deepening, and our third eyes open wide?
I’m obsessed with Spotify! Music inspires the heck out of me! Lately, I am digging tunes form AK, Sylvan Esso, Moon Taxi, Tom Odell, Fleurie, and Macklemore’s new song “Good old Days.” My heart-pounding faves are the Killers, Florence and the Machine, Kings of Leon, Coldplay, Lorde, Arcade Fire, Monster and Men, just to name a few! Music is food for the soul.
Favorite inspirational quotation, collection, or book?
And I love @happihabits on Instagram, too!
Also, I just got done watching the MindHunter series on Netflix — woooowww!
Those who are lucky enough to know you love how you infuse your yoga and movement classes with such a genuine energy. We look to you to help us with our spiritual tune-ups. Tell us about this new class you’ve created – and why is it called KALOS?
KALOS is a physical, mind-body cleansing experience. It’s a workout for the heart and soul! It is a heart-centered, sweaty experience that combines intervals of potent and repetitive functional movement, that are balanced with meditation and stretch. Each experience focuses on increasing heart-rate-variability, breath awareness, self- and community-connection. In short, a KALOS experience is like a physical decluttering of all your emotional build-up! Perfect for the holiday time (and any time!).
Thank you, Wendy! Now, it’s up to us to go out there today, and hug someone, really hug someone, to be more mindful, to notice the fun in the holiday season, to feel the joy, and remember what matters most. Let’s go forth into December, together, with this great bounty of spirit and love. Why not?! Happy (almost!) December, everyone… and cheers!