While filled with fun celebrations, the last few weeks of the year can also be tough. Whether you’re traveling to see family, finishing up work projects or scrambling to shop for everyone on your list, the stress is real right now.
That’s why I encourage my clients to focus on easy, calming movement that makes them feel good. Yoga is an accessible and healthy coping strategy that provides a much-needed break from the hustle and bustle of the season.
So when you’re feeling extra stressed during the holiday season, turn to yoga for comfort. I’ve created a three-minute yoga routine that you can drop into at any point in the day when you need a few minutes to breath.
The child’s pose is relaxing and relieves tension. The move stretches the arms and back, a place that we tend to hold stress-related tension. During this pose you’re bringing your head below your heart, which has a calming and soothing effect. Breathing deeply throughout the child’s pose will also help relax your mind and slow your heart rate. Start on all fours. Sit back on to your heels until your upper body rests on your upper thighs. Continue to inch your hands forward above your head until you feel the stretch in your back, arms and shoulders. Hold for 30 seconds, focusing on your breathing.
Cat and cow
I love starting my day with this pose to loosen my spine and open up my chest. Cat and cow helps improve flexibility in the back while stretching the neck and opening the chest for deep breathing. The slow movement is great for relieving muscle tension and focusing on your breath. On your hands and knees, place your hands flat on the ground below your shoulders. Move into cow by inhaling, dropping your stomach toward the floor and arching your back. Keep your head up and chest open. Exhale as your move into cat position, pulling your abs in and rounding your back toward the ceiling. Let your head drop toward the ground. Alternate for 30 seconds.
The cobra is another slow-moving pose that stretches the spine and opens up the chest. This pose helps strengthen the back and tone the glutes. While great for flexibility, the cobra also helps relieve fatigue and stress. Lying down with your stomach on the mat, place your palms on either side of your chest and press into the ground, lifting your upper body off the floor. Keep your elbows bent unless it’s comfortable to straighten them. Hold for 30 seconds.
The sides of our abdominals are an area that we forget to stretch, so when we finally do, it can feel very soothing and relaxing. The side stretch lengthens your body, engaging your abs and obliques. This stretch also offers you a moment to focus on breathing. Sitting with your legs crossed, lift your right arm up in the air. Bend your torso to the left as far as you can, moving your right arm with you. Place your left hand flat on the ground for balance if needed. Hold for 30 seconds before alternating sides.
I encourage my clients to use this pose at any point when they need to calm down and recharge. The corpse pose is more than just a resting pose, it actually helps clear the mind, reduce stress and anxiety, and lower blood pressure. Think of the corpse pose as a few moments of meditation. Lie down on your back with your legs and arms extended. Place the back of your hands on the mat so that your palms are facing upward. You can also pace one hand on your stomach and one on your heart. Slowly breathe in through your nose and out through your nose, feeling the air rise up from your stomach into your chest, and then release. Repeat for 10 breaths.