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How to Have a Mindful Christmas According to Yoga Teachers in Gateshead and Newcastle

How to Have a Mindful Christmas According to Yoga Teachers in Gateshead and Newcastle

The holidays are coming which may fill you with joy, dread or a little of both. Even if you love celebrating Christmas with family and friends there is some added stress attached to the festive period. You have to think about that perfect gift, getting your house ready for guests and then there's prep for the all-important Christmas meal. 

Sometimes things get a little bit too hectic and you just need some time to breathe. Making time for yoga, or even just a bit of breathwork over the Christmas holidays can make a world of difference.

So we got in touch with some of our local Gateshead and Newcastle yoga teachers to see what advice they had on having a more mindful Christmas.

Winter walk person and dog

Here's How to Have a More Mindful Christmas, According to Yoga Teachers in the North East

As winter approaches, what’s your favourite way to unwind off the yoga mat?

Gary Walker, White Tiger Yoga: "Fun days out with my son Rory helps me forget the hustle and getting nice and cosy with a box set".

Kate Cowen, Kaleidoscope Yoga: "Walking my dog and hiking are my favourite ways to unwind in all seasons, during winter I make sure when I come inside I'm surrounded by fairy lights, blankets, books and herbal tea."

Victoria Noone, Yoga Embrace Studio:  "My favourite thing to do to unwind off the mat during winter is to spend time visiting Christmas markets with family to get into the Christmas spirit, when it’s not December however you will find me grabbing all the essential oils I can to enjoy relaxing baths (I’m pretty boring outside of yoga to be honest). I have a daughter and three step children so attending Christmas fairs and going to see pantomimes is always fun! This year in Particular I’m most looking forward to watching my stepson in his Irish dancing Christmas show, he is amazing and has just qualified for the world championship competition next year so it’s an exciting time!"

Jo Hutton, Happy Yoga Newcastle: "I love to cuddle on my sofa with my cats and blanket watching a film."

Donna Ward, Blue Skies Yoga North East : "Walks in natural beauty spots."

Victoria Liles, Hot Yoga Newcastle: "For me as winter comes in I very much believe in taking the time to hibernate, so I spend a little more time relaxing at home, maybe doing some baking and even learning a new craft or try something I am interested in.  This year I have taught myself to crochet and I have been trying to crochet various things that spark enjoyment."

 christmas tree close up

What do you enjoy most about Christmas?

Gary:  "Rory is at an age where he’s starting to understand, so it’s like being a kid again and creating the magic for him!"

Kate: "I enjoy having a break in the darkest months. People in the UK go crazy for Christmas and I love how the whole country sort of takes a big collective pause during the short days."

Victoria N: "I absolutely LOVE Christmas. I think it’s such a magical time of year but it also makes me feel very emotional too as I know for lots of people it can be the most depressing time of the year too.

"I think when you’ve got children and you see them all excited for Santa Clause it’s the best feeling in the world as you remember that same excitement from your own childhood. But if I have to pick just one thing I like the most then it’s spending time with the family and making memories." 

Jo: "I love everything about Christmas but my favourite thing is when the lights first go up and it makes the dark nights feel magical."

Donna: "Family gatherings around a Christmas dinner."

Victoria L: "I have always enjoyed the holiday season as for me the days around the holidays are very family focussed.  We have never done a big Christmas dinner, it is immediate family where we can sit down and eat more food than we should and play the silly games that we have gifted each other."

and breathe neon sign in green foresty background

Approaching Christmas can feel stressful – how can yoga help with this?

Gary: "Yoga can help us escape the stresses of every day life, help us be more present but at this time of year just 5 minutes a day of breathwork or meditation can help us feel grounded and grateful for the all the things we have."

Kate: "Breathwork and relaxation offer a tonic to the nervous system during stressful times and the space to reflect, and understand the mind. Especially practices like Restorative Yoga. The philosophy of yoga also provides lessons in non-attachment, contentment, and how to access the true Self. The true Self doesn't need or want anything, so there is a choice to get caught up in the stress, or just let it go. Easier said than done, obviously."

Victoria N:  "Life is hectic in general and most people are in a very stressed out fight or flight state. Yoga can create a space for people to completely switch off from that for an hour where they connect to their breath, connect to their body and learn to help quiet down that inner chatter. Yoga is great for mental health and has so many benefits on the nervous system as well as the physical body too."

"We strengthen and stimulate the vagus nerve a lot in yoga through stretching (forward folds are amazing for calming the nervous system) and deep breathing focusing on the exhale. I also run Sound Bath classes too which are possibly one of the best ways to relax and wind down, I guide these sessions with a yoga Nidra practice which translates as yogic sleep where the kind remains awake but the body is guided into a deep state of relaxation."

Jo:  "Yoga gives you space to regularly decompress and relax so that you can process the stress and it doesn't boil over."

Donna: "Yoga can keep us grounded, helping us to focus on priorities in our self care and wellbeing in balancing life on and off the mat."

Victoria L: "Yoga is an amazing thing anytime of year, but as we get more involved in the commercial side of the holiday season, and the stress of making things as perfect as we can, we often forget to take care of ourselves so yoga, whatever type you are doing gives you 60 minutes, 90 minutes, to just focus on you.  There is nothing else in the room apart from you and your mat, and even just that short time without distractions can leave you feeling completely recharged."

preloved yoga gift ideas gateshead

What would make a great Christmas gift for a yoga lover? 

Gary: "A few years ago my mother bought me a crystal singing bowl, amazing for the end of a Savasana, and joss sticks of course!"

Kate: "I'm all for experiences over stuff, so perhaps buying them a class pass, or deposit for a retreat etc. But also, having an eye bag filled with lavender is super dreamy."

Victoria N: "A great Christmas gift for someone who loves yoga would be a yoga mat (that’s an obvious one) but also maybe booking onto a yoga retreat or workshop for a more luxurious gift."

Jo: "Definitely a gift card for their favourite class."

Donna:  "World peace."

Victoria L: "There are so many gifts you can give to a yoga lover, but my personal choice would be either a block or some myofascial release balls.  Yoga is a great way to stretch and strengthen the body, and a block can be a tool to assist in postures, but it can also be something great to help with deeper yin style stretching, and restorative postures that you can do at home.  Helping to release tension through the body by simply relaxing is the best feeling."

Furoshiki Gateshead display

What’s your top tip for a more eco-friendly Christmas? 

Gary: "Only use recyclable wrapping paper or better still only put your presents in boxes that can be reused."

Kate: "Less stuff. Don't over buy food, eat all your leftovers and consider gifts that are meaningful without creating waste. Like, planting a tree in your loved one's name, or donating to a charity." 

Jo: "I absolutely love buying (and receiving) gifts but try to limit them to experiences, perishables or thing people need rather than just stuff."

Victoria N: "My top tip for a more eco friendly Christmas would be to try where possible to reduce the amount of plastic packaging - especially with food. I think I’d we try to shop locally and organically more this would have a positive impact - our local organic food shop doesn’t have plastic packaging and you're encouraged to take your own boxes along to put your shopping in. I understand not everyone can afford organic food but even trying to replace one or two items a week would make a difference."

Donna: "Buy less material good and if you must, buy sustainably made fair trade products."

Victoria L: "I try to be very careful with any gifts I receive through the year, keeping the wrapping paper so that I can repurpose it.  There are some beautiful wrapping papers and it is such a shame to thing they will only be used and appreciated that once.  If I have to buy paper for any reason I try to avoid anything with glitter on it, as these small micro plastics are one of the biggest problems within the environment, especially the oceans and seas."

Read More: Five Sustainable Alternatives to Wrapping Paper

Meet the Yoga Teachers in Newcastle and Gateshead

Kate Cowen, Kaleidoscope Yoga Newcastle

Kate is the creator of Kaleidoscope Yoga and grew up in New Hampshire, USA. When it was time to make the big leap across the pond, Kate found it surprisingly hard. Kate says that yoga was really helpful in getting her through.

Finding that yoga changed her life on so many levels, Kate decided to train as a teacher to share the "wisdom and beauty of the practice".

Since 2009 Kate has been a full-time yoga teacher, before returning to completing a degree in occupational therapy and a PhD. She now splits her time between teaching yoga and a research position at a local university. 

Give Kaleidoscope Yoga Newcastle a follow on Facebook and Instagram.

Jo Hutton, Happy Yoga Newcastle

Jo is the founder of Happy Yoga Newcastle which offers online and in-person classes including beginners yoga and pregnancy yoga. Having taught yoga full-time for over 10 years you're in safe hands with Jo, who is now a Senior Yoga Teacher as awarded by Yoga Alliance Professionals.

Alongside running Happy Yoga Newcastle, Jo also runs the Happy Yoga Community and the Newcastle Yoga School which is a Yoga Teacher Training Academy.

Did you know, Jo is our very first Green Heart Collective ambassador and volunteers to spread the word about our yoga items that we have rescued from landfill. 

Why not follow Happy Yoga Newcastle on Facebook and Instagram?

Gary Walker, White Tiger Yoga Gateshead

Gary is a local yoga teacher who first found yoga in 2009 and has been teaching since 2020. You can find Gary teaching regular classes at Hotpod Yoga Gateshead. He also runs classes with Tynemouth Surf Cafe on the beach in the summer. Also look out for White Tiger Yoga's workshops and events all over the North East. 

Follow White Tiger Yoga on Instagram and Facebook

Gary is teaching at and helping organise an event on 20th January 2024 called the Smile2life Yoga Festival at Northumbria University; it’s going to feature many different classes and workshops including yoga, meditation, breathwork and much more. Tickets are £35, book here.

Victoria Liles, Hot Yoga Newcastle

Victoria is the owner of Hot Yoga Newcastle, having fallen in love with Bikram yoga in 2010 introduced by her now husband, who had previously worked in a Bikram studio part time.

Victoria is a certified hot yoga teacher with Absolute Yoga Academy.

"Those final few days before the holidays begin can be the most stressful and as a way to calm the body and mind, finding a moment to breathe, Hot Yoga Newcastle will be running a warm restorative yin class and sound bath meditation on the evening of Friday 22nd December as a celebration of the Winter solstice."
You can find Hot Yoga Newcastle on Facebook and Instagram.

Donna Ward, Blue Skies Yoga North East

Donna first came across yoga when she tried out a local Ivengay yoga class over 10 years ago. She found that yoga gave her a boost that other activities and exercise simply did not offer.

After 10 years of yoga practice, Donna decided she wanted to pass and share the benefits of yoga, becoming a qualified yoga teacher with Yoga Alliance Professionals UK, BWY, Yoga Alliance and Yoga campus.

Blues Skies Yoga is named in memory of Donna's Nanna Joan, who loved the colour blue and loved to look at all the different kinds of clouds in the sky.

Be sure to follow Blue Skies Yoga on Facebook and Instagram.

Victoria Noone, Yoga Embrace Studio Swalwell

Victoria is a 200-hour yoga teacher (ongoing training for 500 hours) dedicated to making yoga accessible to most people regardless of age, fitness level and ability.

Victoria first started their wellness journey back in 2007, when she gained her first fitness qualification (level 2 exercise to music), and in 2008 (level 3 PT).

But despite loving the fitness industry and teaching a variety of group classes, Victoria felt that her life always lacked something, and that something was self-acceptance.

It is yoga, Victoria says, which has transformed her life in so many ways. It is now Victoria's ambition to help other people transform theirs, too, through this amazing and ancient Indian practice.

Brighten your timeline with Yoga Embrace's Facebook and Instagram links, or visit their website.


Photo Credits

Image 1 by Martin Dalsgaard, Pexels.

Image 2 by Valeria Boltneva, Pexels.

Image 3 by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash  

Images 4 and 5 by Green Heart Collective.

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