Yoga for Holiday Stress Relief
While the holidays offer the opportunity to spend quality time with family and friends, to celebrate life and cultivate gratitude, they are not without their pitfalls. From poor eating habits to the challenges of going back home, yoga offers solutions to help you enjoy this busy, but fun, time of year.
While traveling over the holidays brings you to places you may truly want to be, its a lot to ask for your body to jump time zones in one day. You stay up late to catch up with old friends and you cram as much into your time off as possible. All of it can lead to fatigue, and if you’re not careful a holiday cold.
When you feel run down, take a few minutes out of your day to unwind in Viparita Karani. Viparita means inverted, and this pose takes your legs up the wall. If there’s only one pose you pick from this line up, this should be it! Legs Up The Wall boosts your immune system, decreases blood pressure and soothes your low back.
- lie on your back and swing your legs up the wall
- get close enough to the wall that your legs are straight, but not so close that your butt comes off the ground
- your belly is like a small pool of water—karani means lake—so make it level to the floor, and allow it to soften and be calm like a glassy, morning lake
- relax your shoulders and face
- consider experimenting with legs wide or crossed as a variation
- stay in the pose for 5-15 minutes, then roll to your side to sit up very slowly
Ram Dass once said, “If you think you’re enlightened, spend a week with your family.” No one can trigger you quite like your family of origin and it’s easy to become impatient or angry with them (or yourself).
The spirit of the holidays is one of open-hearted cheer, but you may find yourself closed up from a challenging encounter or from the walking-on-eggshells fear of trying not to set someone off.
To keep your heart open, while giving yourself some much needed alone time to find your center again, practice Supported Bridge Pose.
- lie on your back with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor and a yoga block nearby
- lift your hips and place the block under the tailbone end of your sacrum (not in your low back)
- rest all your weight into the block
- turn your palms up with arms relaxed on the ground
- close your eyes and listen to your breath
- after a few minutes, lift your hips, remove the block, then come back down and lie flat for a few breaths before rolling to your side to sit up
My stepmom bakes the most amazing Christmas cookies, lots and lots and lots of them. They sit on the counter in tins, not just to be eaten after a meal, but available anytime. You eat and drink more during the holidays and all of it takes a toll on your body.
When you overeat sugar and alcohol it sends your kidneys and adrenal glands into overdrive. Taxed, they trigger the release of epinephrine, cortisol and other stress hormones associated with the fight, flight or freeze response.
To support these key organs and bring the kind of calm that sets your nervous system back to rest and digest, try practicing Janu Shirshasana, Head-To-Knee pose.
- sit on the floor with your right leg outstretched
- pull your left knee back wide, with your foot near your right groin
- turn your torso towards your outstretched leg
- fold forward, ensuring that your low back moves forward too (if it rolls back you need to sit your hips up on a pillow or two to keep your lumbar region safe)
- use your left hand to pull gently on your shin and your right one to push into the ground —both will help you twist to face the ground more squarely
- draw your waistline back as you reach your head towards your right knee
- breathe into your kidney area as you hold the pose for about a minute, then switch to the other side