Thanksgiving is a time for family, travel, and home-cooked meals—with a generous side of shopping, high-calorie meals, cocktails, and skipping the studio or gym.
Though upholding yogic values under ordinary circumstances is already a challenge, this season makes it even more difficult. It seems natural to replace the meditation, simplicity, and vegan diet with something a little more fun at this time.
Staying true to your inner yogi, however, doesn’t mean skipping out on these festivities and traditions. Here are five simple ways to honor your commitment to yoga and have a yogic Thanksgiving.
1. Skip the Drama
Family get-togethers attract all sorts of drama—people dig up old wounds from the past and over-exaggerate emotions. I don’t know about your family, but mine can never get through a holiday together without someone either yelling or crying.
To skip the drama this year, bring unresolved issues or touchy subjects up before you all sit down for Thanksgiving dinner and drinks. If you (or they) are not ready to talk about the elephant in the room, agree not to bring it up.
Diffusing the emotional turmoil before it escalates saves everyone from a soap-opera holiday.
2. Stick to Your Yogic Diet
Everyone knows you’re now vegetarian who’s vowed to save the planet one poor helpless animal at a time. “What are you going to eat, then?” No, you don’t eat turkey. Yes, you will pass on the sausage stuffing and the deviled eggs, thank you very much.
Instead being a wallflower, tell your host that you’re bringing vegan options for everyone to share. Gracious hosts usually ask ahead if there’s anything special they can fix for you. Offer easy alternatives, like using coconut milk for heavy cream in the mashed potatoes, and opting for fresh fruit instead of pie.
Don’t feel bad that everyone else is enjoying the meal without a filter. Remember, you’re consuming only sattvic foods because you understand the short and long-term implications of this diet. Meat, heavy creams, and desserts will not serve your body tomorrow.
Be the example. Eat your vegan field roast, cranberry relish (see recipes, below), and spinach salad with a smile. You may be the inspiration someone needs to take the step in a healthier direction.
3. Sip Virgin Cocktails
I like a good cocktail, but during the holidays, there is WAY too much alcohol going around. Instead of insisting on a drink-in-hand at every venue, replace your beverage with a virgin cocktail.
You still feel the confidence from a leaded crystal tumbler or dainty wine glass filled with tonic water and a lime wedge, or with pom-pom juice with chia seeds, AND your body, mind, and wallet will thank you tomorrow.
4. Go to Class
Though your schedule consists of holiday parties and a long Thanksgiving holiday weekend, MAKE CLASS A PRIORITY. Many studios offer Thanksgiving morning classes. It’s only an hour. The cooking and phone calls can wait.
Can’t find a class? Offer to teach one, find a teacher who can teach, or practice by yourself. Practicing influences you, which in turn influences everyone else around you. Take care of yourself so you can take care of others.
Prepare yourself physically and mentally for the inevitable imbalance of the season by sticking with your routine. If you practice every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, attend class as usual. Everything else can wait.
5. Practice Gratitude
Practicing gratitude every day, especially during the holidays, helps you stay grounded and content during a time many of us might feel pressured to want and do more.
Remember, you don’t have to buy something to be grateful to someone. A simple homemade card, time together over tea, or making the effort to say “I appreciate you because. . .” can sometimes be the greatest gift of all.
Think back to Christmas last year—what did your sister get you? If you can’t remember, don’t be surprised; material objects are quickly forgotten. But I bet you remember that time she took you aside and told you how much she loves you, and how much you mean to her.
Words from the heart expressed with sincerity and gratitude are more powerful than anything money can buy.
Vegan Field Roast
Perfect for any holiday table, this richly nourishing entrée is best served with mashed sweet potatoes, cranberry relish, roasted squash, and spinach salad.
Note: This recipe contains garlic and onions, which can be left out for yogis practicing serious meditation.
- 2 cups roasted cashews
- 2 cups cooked brown rice
- 5 cups cooked chick peas (2 cans)
- 2 tbsp. tamari
- 2 small onions, chopped and autéed
- 2 cloves garlic, chopped and autéed
- ½ cup sesame seeds
- 2 tbsp. melted ghee or coconut oil
- 2 tbsp. olive oil
- 1 cup water
- 2 ½ tsp. dried sage, or 2 tbs fresh
- 1 ½ tsp. each rosemary, cumin powder, and chili powder
Put all ingredients through a food processor. Place in a greased loaf pan or deep baking dish. Bake at 375°F for 60 minutes until browned.
- ¼ cup ghee or coconut oil
- 3 tbsp. flour
- 2 tbsp. chopped fresh basil
- 1 tsp. thyme
- ½ cup tamari
- 2 cups organic vegetable broth
Heat a skillet and add all ingredients. Whisk together, adding more liquid depending on desired level of consistency. Simmer 10 minutes on low heat before serving.
- 1 lb. bag fresh cranberries, rinsed
- 1 large orange, peeled
- 1 large apple, cored
- 1 tbsp. lemon zest
- ¼ cup coconut sugar
- ¼ cup agave nectar
- ¼ cup pomegranate juice
- Cinnamon, nutmeg, and/or ginger as desired
Place all ingredients into a blender or food processor, and blend 5-15 seconds for larger chunks, or 1-2 minutes for jelly-like consistency.
Are there any tips or Thanksgiving recipes you'd like to recommend? Share them with us at the comments below!