It’s almost one week after Thanksgiving – are your shoulders still up around your ears from all the time spent with freaky relatives? Or are you sore from hunching over the counter to roll out your world famous pie crust? Perhaps your fave jeans are a wee bit snug from the extra helpings of rolls…
Holiday season is in full effect and if you’re like a lot of people, you’ll only feel more stress before it’s over. No worries – I have a few poses that can help you go from “fully homicidal if you hear that god awful Christmas Wrapping song one more freaking time” to “happily sipping cider as you wrap up cashmere scarves for your besties” in no time.
Holiday Stress Situation One – Too Much Family Togetherness – Grandma’s asking for the 45th time when you’re going to give her great-grandkids. Your punk cousin appears to be rifling through your purse. Mom is getting tipsy and about to tell your most embarrassing stories from junior high to your significant other. Oi.
Simple Yoga Solution – Forward Fold. Grab your purse from Cousin McStickyfingers, find a quiet room and as you exhale mightily, bend forward from your hip joints. Ground your balance in your heels and try to keep your knees straight. If you like, you can put your palms flat on the floor or simply cross your arms. Hang out here, breathing deeply and calmly for 30-60 seconds. Stand back up with your back straight. Ahhhhhhh.
Holiday Stress Situation Two – Fun Time Has Left You Dragging – Between finding the perfect gift, must-attend cocktail parties and weekend winter activities, you’re really bone tired. Like, even a venti salted caramel mocha’s not bringing you back from this level of tired. *yawn*
Simple Yoga Solution – Downward Dog. Yes! Good ol’ downward dog, the first pose many of us learn in our practices, is fantastically energizing and calming at the same time. So close Pinterest, get off the couch and get on all fours. Push up into down dog. Make sure your fingers are spread wide and push your heels toward the floor. If you can get your feet flat, maybe go crazy and take turns elevating your left leg to be in line with your spine, then replacing it and lifting up your right. Stay here as long as you like – maybe two minutes? – and just enjoy the stretch in your spine and hamstrings. Then lower down and counter it with a Child’s Pose. Much better.
Holiday Stress Situation Three – Too Many Good Things To Eat = Tummy Troubles – OK, so you had a croissant and a few (like, fifteen?) peppermint Hershey’s Kisses before lunch. Then there was the office cookie exchange party. Then just a couple of hors d’oeuvres at happy hour. At dinner, you decided the day was already a carb wasteland so you chose nachos instead of a salad. And now you feel like crap-ola.
Simple Yoga Solution – Spinal Twist and Half Lord of the Fishes – Twists are fantastic for digestion. Spinal twist is easy but you have to lie down to fully appreciate it, so save that one for your living room floor. Simply lay on the floor, draw your left knee into your chest and hug it. Hold and breathe. Straighten it, hold onto your left big toe and with your right leg pressed firmly into the floor, rotate your leg out to the left. Hold and breathe. Bring it back to center and then cross it over to the right. Hold and breathe. Bring it back to center and back down and then switch legs, repeating on the right side. Your hip joints will thank you immediately, and your digestive system not too long thereafter.
Half Lord of the Fishes is great to practice at home, but you can probably pull it off in your office, too. Sit on the floor with your legs straight out. Draw your feet up, then bring your right foot under your left thigh. Cross your left foot over the right thigh – your knee should be pointing straight up. Exhale and twist in the spine, placing your right elbow on the outside of the left thigh and your left hand firmly behind you. Draw up from your tailbone through the crown of your head – I like to envision my spine as a strand of pearls as I do this – and as you exhale, focus on deepening the twist. Release and repeat on the opposite side. I realize this sounds like a game of Twister as you read it, but it’s pretty easy and super beneficial to your angry tummy.
What’s this? A Holiday Stress Yoga Challenge Pose? Why, it’s just the right color and size!
Your challenge pose for this week and next is Firefly. Why Firefly? It involves something that will keep you sane during this holy, but crazy season – balance. Physical balance is as important as mental balance and arm balances like firefly help you hone both by strengthening your muscles and your focus. So promise me you’ll try this one – I guarantee if you try it once a day for two weeks, you’ll learn a very valuable lesson about your balance.
So. When you are present and able to focus, get into a low squat. Bring your pelvis up and forward and tuck your arms and shoulders under your respective thighs as much as possible. With an exhalation, shift your weight off your feet and onto your hands. As you slowly inhale, lift your feet off the ground and straighten your legs as much as possible. When they come up, tighten your abdominals. Bring your gaze forward and stay in the pose as long as you can. When you’re done, bring your feet down one at a time. Give yourself a huge pat on the back. If you’re able to get into the pose easily, or if you try really hard and fail mightily, have a friend snap a photo and tweet or instagram it with the hashtag #CleverYoga. Happy surprises await those who try…
Thanks for trying these poses and have a fabulously stress free holiday season! If there’s a holiday stressor I missed, or if I just helped you out big time, let me know in the comments below!