No matter how much you love this season, everyone tends to encounter a moment when it all becomes too much. There are holiday parties and family gatherings and those terrible obligations to pick out the perfect present, wear the perfect holiday outfit, and bake the perfect cookies.
Take a moment in the midst of it all to decompress. Do something for you so that you can enjoy the fullness of the season.
Even when your belly is full with peppermint hot chocolate and gingerbread cookies, don’t be afraid to escape into your own space and break out these yoga poses to calm your nerves—even in your perfect holiday party attire.
1. Forward Fold
Don’t be afraid to be the person touching your toes in the corner of the party. It will keep you relaxed and friendly during the gift exchange. Forward folds are instantly rejuvenating. With your knees bent or your legs straight, sway gently from side to side and relax your head, letting the holiday worries drain from the top of your head.
2. Low Lunge Twist
Wringing out the spine releases tension in the lower back and gives the lungs more space to expand. Lean back as far as you can and anchor your back leg into the ground. With every inhale, reach your hand higher. And with every exhale, revolve the spine deeper, opening the heart towards the ceiling.
3. Pyramid or Intense Side Stretch
We tend to hold frustration in our hamstrings, including holiday tensions. Luckily, pyramid stretches both the hamstrings and the waist so we can get up and over ourselves. Imagine that someone has placed a glass of eggnog on your sacrum. Hold the glass in place while you even your hips and descend the torso over front leg.
4. Pigeon Pose
This one’s a difficult party trick, but it’s a deeply relaxing posture eases the emotions, especially if you tend to feel lonely during the holiday season. I encourage you to play with variations during your time in Pigeon.
Gaze towards your front knee and twist your spine, opening your top shoulder blade. Lay your chest on a pillow. Place a book underneath your forehead. Anything that allows you to pause and hold for a full round of “Silent Night.”
5. Revolved Head-to-Knee
This pose brings together everything we’ve been playing with before: twisting, hip-opening, forward folding. By pressing the sole of your right foot into the left inner thigh, twist towards the right and grip your right thigh with your left hand.
Revolve your chest. Reach your right arm up and over your ear towards your left foot. With every exhale, the side body will deepen into the fold, until eventually the top arm might grip the left foot. Repeat on the other side until the ribcage and side-waist have gained greater mobility.
6. Seated Meditation with Optional Nadi Shodhana Breathing
Seated meditation is one of the most calming, rewarding aspects of the practice. By adding a breathing exercise, the central nervous system calms slightly faster.
If you are adding the breathing exercise, press your right forefinger and middle finger into the space between your eyebrows. Close off your left nostril with your right ring finger and breathe in through your right nostril. Pause and hold the breath at the top.
Close the right nostril with your thumb and exhale through your left nostril. Repeat on the other side, breathing in through the left nostril. Take at least five rounds, ending with an exhale on the right side.
Give Yourself Yoga
Use these poses to restore your holiday spirit during this shiny, sparkly season. According to ancient yogic Ayurveda theories, this is also Kapha season. This is the time when you want to slow down and eat warm foods and take naps.
Give yourself all of those things – and then give yourself a few of these yoga postures. They don’t have to be wrapped in pretty paper or perfectly put together, they just have to be yours.
Image credit: Aneta Gab