The Maharishi Ayurveda Holiday Survival Guide

It's the most wonderful time of the year, a magical time of parties, feasts and generous gifts. So why do so many people feel stressed when the holidays roll around?

The mental pressure of spending too much money, making too many decisions, and having too much to do causes Prana Vata to go out of balance. Prana Vata is the subdosha of Vata that is concerned with mental functioning. Aggravated Prana Vata can cause excessive worry, anxiety and insomnia — thus making it difficult to remain calm and make healthy decisions. It becomes a snowball effect, with the person becoming more and more stressed and enjoying the holidays less and less.

Fortunately, The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians draws on the wisdom of Maharishi Ayurveda to guide us through this holiday season stress-free.

The Purpose of Holidays

Don't forget the true purpose of holidays. In Sanskrit the word for holiday is "utsava," which means jubilee, festival day, opening, blossoming, joy, gladness, preparing to go to a higher life, and the arising of a wish.

Every holiday has a tradition, a history that explains the reason for celebrating it. Holidays are a psychological tonic for the whole nation or region. In daily life people are busy working and dealing with pressures. That's why in every culture, holidays provide a necessary break. It's also the best time to enjoy your family and friends, and to pray for those who are no longer with us.

Set Priorities

The main solution to holiday stress is to pacify Prana Vata. Getting enough rest is the key to keeping your mind calm and clear. If you start losing sleep over holiday pressures, it's time to stop and reassess your priorities.

Going to bed well before 10:00 at night and rising early, by 6:00 a.m., goes a long way toward soothing Vata dosha. If you go to bed on time but can't sleep because your mind is busy making gift lists, try Blissful Sleep tablets and Slumber Time Aroma to help you fall asleep easily at night.

Don't try to do everything. If your mind is calm, you're more likely to make creative choices that favor keeping your family happy rather than exhausted. Young children, for instance, might enjoy stringing popcorn more than a long trip downtown to see the Nutcracker. Light daily exercise is important for soothing Vata, so taking the family on a hike or ice skating instead of a movie might be a better choice. The less late-night events you schedule, the healthier your holiday.

Don't skip your daily practice of the Transcendental Meditation® technique — you'll feel more rested and think more clearly if you stick to your normal routine. Worry Free tablets and Worry Free Tea are targeted to calm Prana Vata and settle your mind. Listening to the soothing rhythms and melodies of Gandharva music can also help quiet and rejuvenate your mind.

Try to plan ahead. Nothing can make you more frazzled than having to buy last-minute gifts the day before guests arrive.

"Usually just making a gift list exhausts me, and so I put it all off to the last minute," says Jill, a tax consultant. Last holidays, with the Worry Free tablets, I was able to think more clearly and do all my shopping ahead of time. I also remained calm throughout the holiday even though my entire family was visiting and my kids were home from school.

Prevent a Holiday Cold

When Prana Vata goes out of balance it quickly affects other subdoshas such as Samana Vata, which supports digestion, and Apana Vata, which governs elimination. If compounded by eating too many sweets, skipping meals or eating late at night during the holidays, the result can be the accumulation ofama, the sticky waste-product of digestion.

Ama can cause constipation, weight gain, and even a holiday cold or flu. So how do you eat healthy and avoid getting sick or gaining unwanted pounds?

Eat at your normal time each day. Try to plan your big holiday meals at noon. If you eat a feast at night, you won't digest it properly and it will only createama.

Some people think if they skip lunch in order to go shopping, they'll cut down on calories and avoid gaining extra holiday pounds. Yet the opposite is true. Skipping meals causes the digestive fire to become irregular, and is a direct cause ofama and therefore weight gain. It's better to follow your normal eating habits to keep your digestion regular.

Eating a salad for lunch to cut calories is also not a good idea. Vata dosha is light and cold by nature, so if you eat light, cold, raw foods like salads and ice-cold beverages, you will only disrupt your digestion and set the vicious cycle of more worry, indecision and anxiety in motion for the holidays. When your digestion is disrupted, you can become more susceptible to colds and flu as well. It is better to stick with warm drinks and meals to balance the cool Vata. Use Vata Churna and Vata Tea to provide the Vata-balancing sweet, sour and salty tastes. Other Vata-pacifying foods for the holiday season include sweet vegetables such as squashes; organic milk products such as hot milk with cardamom or sweet lassi (a yogurt drink); sweet grains such as pasta, couscous and rice; and healthy proteins such as panir (fresh cheese) and split-bean soups.

If you put more attention on feeding your family wholesome, nourishing, cooked meals, there will be less of a tendency to load up on candy and sweets.

One easy way to boost your immunity is to take Bio-Immune. Start taking Bio-Immune before the holidays begin. It will help to strengthen your digestion and resistance even if your schedule and eating habits are less regular. Premium Amla Berry and Maharishi Amrit Kalash are excellent immune-enhancing elixirs to take throughout the year to boost natural immunity and ward off colds, flu and other illnesses.

Prevent Family Conflict

Digestive problems and Prana Vata imbalance can also lead to emotional strain. During holidays, many people feel stressed because ojas, which is the product of good digestion and is associated with happy emotions and health, gets diminished. The coordination of mind, body and senses is disturbed when ojas is low, and emotional stress can be the result. So eating right and going to bed early are important for avoiding emotional stress as well.

Emotional strain often affects the quality of family relationships during the holidays. Right when many extended families reunite, the stress of traveling long distances, preparing elaborate meals and lack of sleep make us less able to handle complex family interactions.

One solution is to simplify. When it comes to the holidays, most people try to do too much. According to a report by the Harvard Medical School, 23% of people surveyed report being overly concerned with holiday details, such as food, entertaining, and gift-buying.

Yet, when you think about it, your family probably won't even notice the details you're fussing over. What they really enjoy, more than an elaborate meal, is spending a relaxing time with you.

Parents should set the tone for the holidays. If you stay calm and rested, family relationships will be more joyful.

Beat the Holiday Blues

Sometimes people feel depressed during the holidays due to an imbalance in Sadhaka Pitta, the subdosha of Pitta that governs emotions and the heart. This comes into play if you have sad memories of lost loved ones or family problems, which seem to loom larger during the holidays.

In an attempt to deal with sadness you may find yourself heading for the dessert table. But eating heavy sweets, chocolate and junk food will only increase digestive impurities and intensify depression.

In this type of emotion-driven eating, the more reactive, Pitta-based toxin called amavisha gets formed. The heart and mind stop communicating and the person becomes even more depressed.

To break this unhappy cycle, The Council of Maharishi Ayurveda Physicians recommends a Pitta-pacifying diet, with more vegetables, healthy sweet foods like rice, wheat and milk, and proteins like split-bean soups. Avoid spicy foods, chocolate, caffeine, and alcohol as these are all Pitta-aggravating. Organic Rose Petal Spread, Blissful Joy tablets, Blissful Heart Aroma and Organic Pitta Tea are extremely effective in restoring balance to Sadhaka Pitta and relieving emotional turmoil and depression.

Look Your Holiday Best

Bliss is best for making your skin glow. And bliss results from a balanced ayurvedic diet and routine. Bliss brings out prabha, or inner beauty.

For an extra holiday boost, treat yourself to a relaxing skin-care regimen. Use Youthful Skin Cleansing Gel, Youthful Skin Toner, Youthful Skin Oil and Youthful Skin Cream to cleanse and nourish your skin. For deeper impurities, use bentonite clay once or twice a week.

The Youthful Skin Cream is especially helpful during the holidays because it contains Gotu Kola and Sensitive Plant to relax Prana Vata. This adds psychological support.

One of the most effective ways to relieve holiday stress and rejuvenate your skin is a daily oil massage followed by a warm bath. Because the skin is the seat of Vata, ayurvedic massage is especially helpful for balancing Prana Vata, calming your mind and removing fatigue. The Council recommends a mixture of 50% Youthful Skin Massage Oil for Men or Women, and 50% Moisturizing Massage Oil. These oils are ideal for relieving stress because they contain Sensitive Plant and Shankapushpi (Dwarf Morning Glory). Sensitive plant provides support to the tactile nerves to help cope with stress, and Shankapushpi creates joyful relaxation.

Avoid Post-Holiday Fatigue

Keeping your doshas in balance during the holidays is important for your long-term health as well, because in some cases the anxiety and emotional can turn into a more permanent problem. If Prana Vata and Sadhaka Pitta are disturbed throughout the holidays, and if at the same time the person has a Vata or Pitta body type or is in the Vata or Pitta time of life—then these imbalances might last long after the holidays are over. The reason is that two subdoshas of Kapha—Tarpaka Kapha and Avalambaka Kapha — are the balancing factors for Prana Vata and Sadhaka Pitta. If mental pressures and emotional distress continue throughout the holiday season without being addressed, that can affect these two balancing factors, the subdoshas of Kapha. Once the balancing factors don't function properly, then the original imbalance becomes difficult to remove.

The result might be serious anxiety, insomnia or emotional disturbance, or some form of post-holiday fatigue or depression. If you have a history of holiday anxiety or emotional stress, then you should be especially careful to follow these recommendations and see an expert in Maharishi Ayurveda. With Kapha season coming soon after the holidays, it's the ideal time to detoxify and bring your body back into balance after the winter holidays.

Stress-free Shopping

According to one survey, 36% cited shopping for gifts as their biggest holiday stress. Not knowing what to buy or where to buy was the major source of shopping anxiety; while others said fighting the crowds in malls or not having enough time to shop created the most pressure.

So this holiday season, why not give yourself a break and shop from the Maharishi Ayurveda online holiday catalog? Your friends and family will appreciate healthful gifts they can enjoy (and you'll feel good giving the gift of health). There's something in the catalog for everyone. Choose from foods, beverages, books, music, aromas and skin care. Aroma candles, Relaxation Massage Oils and Organic Rose Petal Spread and soothing Gandharva Veda music are favorite gift choices for the whole family.

The sole purpose of these articles is to provide information about the tradition of ayurveda. This information is not intended for use in the diagnosis, treatment, cure or prevention of any disease. If you have any serious acute or chronic health concern, please consult a trained health professional who can fully assess your needs and address them effectively. If you are seeking the medical advice of a trained ayurvedic expert, call or e-mail us for the number of a physician in your area. Check with your doctor before taking herbs or using essential oils when pregnant or nursing.