Stress and fatigue are often unwelcome guests during the holiday season. Stress might join you while cooking a holiday meal, decorating your house in preparation for a party, or shopping at a crowded mall. It can manifest as aches and pains, prevent you from sleeping through the night, and dampen your spirits during the holidays
You can beat back stress, and the inevitable fatigue it causes on your body. Fend off feelings of stress by stretching your body and encouraging healthy and restorative movement. Enjoy learning this gentle yoga flow that will help you relax, recharge, and restore your mind and body through the entire holiday season.
This yoga flow will take you about 10 minutes and should be done in a quiet space. Hold each pose for about five deep breaths. Holding these poses for a longer period of time will allow your body to fully adjust and align properly, assist you in building strength, and give your mind a restorative rest. There is no mat required, just you and your breath.
Tadasana - Equal Standing Pose
Stand with your feet parallel to one another and about hip-distance apart. Distribute your weight evenly on your feet. Keep a very small bend in the knees by engaging your thighs in order to discourage locking your knee joints. Place your hands together at your heart center. Close your eyes and take five deep breaths.
Urdhva Hastasana - Hands to Sky
From your Tadasana pose, take a deep inhale as you reach your hands up to the sky. Root your feet down into the earth and extend your finger tips to the sky. Spread your fingers wide and the palms of your hands will face one another. Gaze straight ahead or slightly upwards, if you do not have neck sensitivity. Hold for five deep breaths.
Uttanasana - Forward Fold
From Urdhva Hastasna, exhale and then hinge at your hips and forward fold. You can rest your hands on the floor if they can reach comfortably. You can also reach for the backs of your thighs or for opposite elbows with your hands. Release all tension in your neck and allow your head, neck, and upper torso to completely relax. Close your eyes and hold for five deep breaths.
Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward Facing Dog
From Uttanasana, bend your knees and plant your hands down on the mat. Walk your feet toward the back of the mat so your body resembles an upside-down V shape. Spread your fingers wide on the mat and press down with all four corners of your hands. Draw the sit bones up and back simultaneously and release your heels to the mat as far as they will go. Close your eyes and take five deep breaths.
Balasana - Child’s Pose
From Adho Mukha Svanasana, release down to a table-top position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Take your big toes in to touch one another and spread your knees wide. Begin to release your hips back over your heels and extend your arms in front of you. If this pose is uncomfortable for your hips, place a large pillow under your torso and between your knees and rest your head on the pillow for support. Close your eyes and hold for five deep breaths.
Dandasana - Staff Pose
From Balasana, inhale back up to your table-top position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Gently take your legs to one side to make your way down to the floor in a comfortable seat. Extend both of your legs out in front of you. Place the palms of your hands a few inches behind your hips with your fingertips facing your feet. Engage your feet by flexing your toes back toward you, engage your thighs, and engage your lower belly. Relax your shoulders down your back and draw your shoulder blades toward one another. Release your chin toward your chest, close your eyes, and take five deep breaths.
Janu Sirsasana - Head to Knee Forward Bend
The hip area is also a very common place in the body to hold onto emotions and stress. Janu Sirsasana is a gentle hip opener and forward fold. This pose also stretches the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings. By opening the hips, spine, and shoulders, you are encouraging release of the residual tension that often resides in these areas.
From Dandasana, bend your right knee and open it toward your right side. Place your right foot inside your left thigh with the heel towards your pelvis. Turn your torso toward your extended left leg and reach your hands toward the sky on a deep inhale. As your exhale, begin to hinge at your hip and forward fold over your extended left leg. Depending on your flexibility, you can gently place your hands on the floor on either side of your left leg. If you have deeper flexibility, you can reach for your left shin, ankle, or foot. Close your eyes and hold for five deep breaths. Inhale as you rise your torso up, extend your right leg straight to meet your left, and repeat on the left side.
Supta Baddha Konasana - Reclining Bound Angle Pose
From Janu Sirsasana, extend both legs out in front of you and slowly lower down onto your back. Once you’re on your back, bend your knees. Relax your knees out to the sides and place the outer edges of your feet on the ground. The heels and soles of the feet will touch one another. Gently allow your hips to open. Rest your hands on the ground on either side of your bent legs with your palms facing up. Release any tension or tightness in your body, allowing your body to completely relax into the pose. Close your eyes and take five deep breaths.
Viparita Karani - Legs Up The Wall
From Supta Baddha Konasana, take hold of the backs of your thighs as you gently guide your knees in to touch one another. Give your knees a hug with your arms wrapped around your legs. Gently rock yourself up to a seat and position yourself next to a wall. Sit upright against a wall with one hip touching the wall. Slowly roll down onto your back and let your legs rotate up and rest against the wall. You may need to scoot your body closer or further away from the wall in order to find a comfortable position. Rest your arms out to the sides of your body or gently place one palm on your belly and one on your heart. Once you’re comfortable, close your eyes, and hold for five deep breaths.
From Viparita Karani, gently slide your legs down the wall toward your right side and roll over to the right side of your torso. Use your hands to press up to a seat and move your mat away from the wall. Gently lie all the way down and completely surrender. Allow your legs to extend down on the mat and your feet to relax open to the sides. Release every muscle in your arms, legs, torso, and face. Close your eyes and allow your body and mind to be completely still.