The winter holidays are here! Getting together with friends and family to celebrate the festivities can be a lot of fun, but can also get a bit overwhelming and stress-inducing, too. We all know the holidays can be tremendously busy with shopping, planning, traveling, changes in our diet and sleep patterns and time spent with family (who we all love – but can sometime push our buttons). Tension during the holidays is common for many of us. Need a little help dealing with holiday stress? We have five simple, soothing and restorative yoga poses to help calm you and release tension in your body and mind that can naturally occur as we move into this season.
When holiday-related stress strikes, the best thing to do is step away for a few moments and indulge in a little bit of self care or as I like to call it, “Me Time.” These 5 poses are just the thing to help you unwind, relax and recharge.
Child’s Pose | Balasana
This is one of my favorite postures for relaxation. You can feel your body and mind letting go and your tension releasing! If you only have time to do one pose during the busy holidays, I highly recommend this one. 5 to 20 minutes of this pose does wonders for the mind, body & soul. This posture calms the mind (central nervous system), thus helping relieve stress & tension. It also gently stretches your lower back, hips, thighs and knees and relaxes your spine, shoulders and neck.
Start out sitting on your knees, with your bottom on your heels. Inhale and as you exhale, fold your body forward with a straight back. Rest your upper body on your knees and your forehead on the floor. Stretch your arms out in front of you or leave them resting by your side. Do whatever feels better to you – this pose is about letting go. Stay here for as long as you like, focusing on your breathing.
Tip: You can also try a supported variation and place a bolster, pillow or folded blankets underneath your torso to lie on.
Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose | Viparita Karani
I call this the duct tape of yoga poses. It can help many things from headaches, stress, insomnia, an achy back, stiff neck and sore feet. You’ve probably been on your feet a good deal of the day and your body is feeling it. Reversing gravity will rejuvenate the legs, calm your nervous system, relax you and lower your blood pressure. 5 to 20 minutes in this pose will work wonders, the longer the better. And you can do it anywhere! If I can’t sleep, I just put my legs up my headboard.
Begin by sitting down sideways against the wall. Lie back as you swing your legs up the wall. You’ll want your hips and legs to be as close to the wall as you can get. You can add props like a bolster or blanket under your hips, a sandbag over the feet for grounding, or even a strap around the ankles to help hold them up. A blanket over you and eye pillow will help you further relax and ground your energy. Breathe here and just be.
Corpse Pose | Savasana
Savasana is a great way to literally rest and restore because it’s a pose of total relaxation and healing. When you’re feeling stressed or overwhelmed, just lie in Corpse Pose for a couple of minutes to revitalize. It relaxes the entire body, rejuvenates the Central Nervous System (CNS), calms the brain and helps boost your mood.
Lie down on your back using a folded blanket under your head as a pillow. You can place a blanket over you for comfort as this a cooling pose and/or a bolster or pillow, so your knees are slightly elevated to support your lower back. Place an eye pillow or hand towel over your eyes, rest your arms comfortably out to your sides, palms up and fingers relaxed and just let go. Breathe here for several minutes. When you get up, roll gently to your right side. Take a few gentle breaths and slowly press up to a seated position.
Reclined Bound Angle Pose | Supta Baddha Konasana
If the holidays have left you out of steam, get back on track by creating a moment of peace and calm. This easy reclining pose does just that with an ultra-relaxing stretch that helps you get out of your head and unwind. It releases tight hips, stretching the groin muscles and calms your mind while grounding you.
Lie on your back with the soles of your feet together and knees splayed to the sides, pointing outwards, resting on pillows or rolled blankets. Slide your heels up as close to the groin as comfortable. Rest your arms out to the sides, palms up or place your hands on your belly and chest to help focus on your breath. Let your belly slowly rise and fall with each breath. Remain here for 3 to 5 minutes.
Standing Forward Bend | Uttanasana
Only have a couple minutes? Here’s a simple forward bend that’s a gentle stretch to help loosen up those tense muscles. It has a deeply relaxing effect, calming the entire nervous system, soothing the mind and relieving stress, fatigue and insomnia.
Begin in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Exhale and lengthen your torso as you slowly fold forward. If you can reach the floor, place your hands next to your feet. If that causes strain, cross your arms and clasp each elbow in the opposite hand and let your body relax and gently hang. Hold for 30 seconds up to a minute. Release by lengthening your spine and coming back to a standing position.
Take a little a “me time” and say goodbye to holiday tension and stress with these five yoga poses. Just give yourself permission to do – nothing. Enjoy the moment, relax and try not to worry. The lasting affects will linger into your day and holiday gatherings.
Joanna McNelis, RYT, LMSW, CHLC, ADS, #FableticsMaster
Certified Yoga Instructor, RYT
Relax & Renew® Restorative Yoga Instructor