The hustle and bustle of the holiday season brings with it a seemingly contradictory mix of joy and distress, love and fear, compassion and selfishness, and love and disdain. Life gets busier and expectations run high as time runs out. Emotions go up and down, to do lists go on and on (and on), and it can seem that the very process leading up to the grand celebrations are hardly worth the stress. The ebb and flow of life may just reach its pinnacle during the holiday season.

Thankfully, the practice of yoga prepares us for the highs and lows of the season. For through yoga we are able to find our center, the calm within the storm, the eye of the hurricane. The holidays offer us a great opportunity to tune into the present moment because it’s a challenge. To be able to find calm amidst chaos takes practice—lots of practice. And so we practice this season.

When holiday shopping, for example, take a moment to step back and observe your surroundings. Notice the other people around you, notice the interactions between people, notice how you feel, and notice your breath. Oh yeah, the breath. The simple act of finding your breath—even in the middle of the shopping mall (especially in the middle of the shopping mall)—will help you to connect to that ever-present calm within. Use this. Everywhere.

Although your schedule may be filled to the max this month, please find time to relax. It’s essential for our self-preservation that we have some down time. Come to your mat—for a class, for a practice outdoors, or even for ten minutes to start your day. Use this time to find your center so that you may find it off the mat as well. Indeed, the yoga practice sets us up to be able to do just that.

This season, take notice: Notice those moments when you are able to practice the concepts of yoga off the mat. Knowing that you hold this potential within you, always, will help you sail through the season with ease. Happy holidays!