Keep stress down and your practice going during the holidays with this easy 15 min. home practice you can do anywhere & anytime. This sequence of poses are yin in nature to facilitate relaxation of the body and mind and to counter the yang tendencies of the season (i.e. overdoing just about everything!)
Be sure to take 3 full breaths in each of the poses:
- Stand hip width apart on your mat, and start with gentle hip rotations in one direction for 3 deep breaths, then change directions for another 3 breaths.
- Mountain Pose – Stand with your feet hip width apart on the mat. Bring awareness to your breath, feeling strong, tall and grounded in your Mountain – take 3 full breaths. This pose helps to keep you grounded during the busy holiday season.
- Forward fold – with feet grounded, knees slightly bent, lower your head and hands to the mat for this calming posture. Let your arms hang freely to the mat, letting gravity help to release tension in the shoulders & upper back, while at the same time, opening-up the hamstrings and calf muscles;
- Downdog – place hands on the mat and step back, come into an inverted triangle. Start to bend one knee and then the other for 3 breaths, then drop your knees to the mat for Child’s Pose – knees wide on the mat, forehead on the mat and take 3 full breaths. Lift-up into Table Pose.
- Table – Cat-Cow - Wrists underneath shoulders, and knees under hips for table pose. Slowly drop belly down and look up for Cow then round out the back and tuck the pelvis under for Cat pose, this helps to lengthen out the spine by creating space between each vertebrae. Be sure not to strain your neck as you move through the poses, opting instead for gentleness towards yourself. Take 3 full breath cycles here.
- From Table to Thread-the-Needle, lift right hand up in the air, bring right hand under the body placing the right shoulder on the mat, the weight of your body on your shoulder helps to open up this area dispelling tension. Breathe fully & be sure to do both sides.
- Boat pose – come to sitting on the mat and lift your shins up off the mat, elongate the spine. Do this 3 times. Be sure to use the core muscles and not the lower back!
- Yoga Mudra – Come to a seated position, relax the hips & allow the knees to fall to the side. Place the hands on the mat in front of you, spine long and take 3 full breaths. With the breath you can start to lower your forehead to the mat. In order to balance out the hips, bring the shin that was behind to the front in your easy pose and repeat. Take three breaths for each side of the body.
- Seated Forward Fold – Allow a complete stretch of the back body while calming the mind in this gentle pose, hands on the mat for the yin version, no reaching for the toes, were not looking for intensity here! Take three deep breaths.
- Reverse plank or Reverse Table for a counter stretch. With stretched legs in front or feet firmly planted on the mat, place your hands a few inches behind your glutes, fingers are pointed towards the body, shoulders are externally rotated, core is engaged as you lift the hips up, stay for 1-3 breaths only. Slowly lower down.
- Bridge pose – With back on the mat, bring soles of feet to the mat making sure the knees are stacked over ankles so that the legs are 90 degrees to the mat, hands are on the mat beside you, start to lift your hips up to the ceiling, stay for 1-3 complete breath cycles.
- Cooling Inversion – lift legs up in the air so that soles of the feet are parallel to the ceiling or up on a wall. Take 3 deep breaths (or come into shoulders stand if its part of your practice).
- Belly Twist - Lying on your back, arms out in a T position & bring the soles of your feet to the mat, let your knees fall to one side for this gently twist, stay for three complete breaths.
- Corpse Pose or Savasana – Lay down on your mat, stretch your feet out wide, arms relaxed by your side palms facing up. Let your body feel heavy and relaxed, when your body is relaxed your mind will follow. Stay here for three deep breaths or however long it takes for you to feel refreshed, relaxed and ready to face the rest of your day!
Namaste. Happy Holiday & a Wonderful 2014!