Top 5 Yoga Poses for Holiday Stress Relief

Are you tired and stressed from all the extra energy you’re exerting to prepare for the holidays? Recharge your body and mind with this short yoga sequence.

1. Viparita Karani or Legs up the Wall Pose: You’ve probably been on your feet all day, and your lower back and neck are sore. Reversing gravity will rejuvenate the legs, while lying on a flat surface will support your lower back. Inverting will also calm your nervous system and lower your blood pressure.

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 sandbag over the feet for grounding, or even a strap around the ankles. A blanket over the hips, and a sandbag over the eyes will help relax your nervous system and ground your energy. Breathe here for a couple of minutes.

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Variation with sandbag and blankets:

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2. Supported Bolster Twist: Twists are a great way to relieve stress in the body. They literally unwind your spine while giving your internal organs a nice massage. The comfort of the bolster makes this twist very restorative and relaxing. If you don’t have a bolster, feel free to use a thick couch cushion, or stack a few folded blankets or beach towels.

From legs up the wall, bend your knees and roll over to the right side to push yourself up to seated. Place a bolster on the mat in front of you and sit with your right hip against the short end of the bolster. Your knees should be comfortably bent. Place a hand on either side of the bolster and lengthen your spine as you lower your belly onto the bolster. Allow your arms to rest comfortably on the sides. Place your right ear against the bolster. Breathe here for 10-20 breaths and then use your hands to press yourself up. Turn so that the left hip is against the bolster and repeat on the other side.

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3. Supta Baddha Konasana or Supported Reclined Butterfly: This supported pose is a great way to passively stretch the chest and relieve upper back pain. Supporting the knees in butterfly will allow the hips and lower back to relax, and will also calm the nervous system.

From the supported twist, press up and place the bolster behind you. Sit with your hips about an inch away from the bolster and begin to lie back over it. Bring your legs into butterfly with the soles of your feet together. Place blocks or blankets under your knees for support. You can add a blanket under the head for comfort or over the hips for grounding. An eye pillow will help to relieve any tension around the eyes and forehead. Turn your palms up as you relax your arms out to the sides. Breathe here for a couple minutes.

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4. Nadi Shodhan or Alternate nostril breathing: Your nasal passages stimulate the opposite hemispheres of the brain. When you inhale through the left nostril you stimulate the right brain which has a calming effect. When you inhale through the right nostril you stimulate the left brain which has an energizing effect. This breathing technique, balances the mind and nervous system, leaving you calm and relaxed.

From your reclined butterfly, roll to the right and sit upright. If you sit cross legged and your knees are higher than your hips or your lower back is tight, then sit up on a couple blankets or a bolster. Place your right thumb against your right nostril and rest your middle finger and index lightly on your third eye. Exhale through the left nostril. Inhale through the left nostril and close it off with your right ring finger. Remove your thumb and exhale through the right nostril. Inhale through the right and close it off with the thumb. Exhale on the left. This is one cycle. Continue for several cycles, then relax your hand to your lap and breathe naturally for a few cycles.

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5. Supported Savasana or Corpse Pose: Savasana is a great way to literally “rest and digest” what you’ve done. The body begins to go into healing mode, cooing as the energy is sent to the internal organs for recharging. Your nervous system is restored and your mind balanced.

Lie down on your back and place your bolster under your knees to support your lower back. If you have blankets, place them over your hips for support. Place an eye pillow over your eyes and turn the palms up with your arms out to your sides. Breathe here for several minutes. When you get up, roll gently to your right side and slowly press up to seated.

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Headshot-2Jennifer Elliott is an ERYT-500 and Yoga Therapist who has been teaching for more than 15 years. Jennifer blends her skills to create a seamless and challenging class for her students. For students who are ready for the next step, she shares her knowledge through her workshops and teacher training’s. For more info on Jennifer, visit JenniferElliottYoga.com or follow her on Facebook.

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