To help relieve unwanted, additional stress, here are four amazingly powerful yoga postures that will have you feeling back to your normal, on-top-of-it-all self in less than 20 minutes.
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Our hearts are warm, cheerful decorations fill the shopping malls, and there really is an indescribable magic in the air during the holiday season.
You do your best to make the holiday experience as delightful as possible. To find that perfect gift for our loved ones, to make the perfect meals, to maintain the immaculately tidy house. The trouble is, this can all come at a cost. The holiday season is considered to be one of the most stressful times of year. Shopping, cooking, travel…there is so much to think about.
To help relieve the unwanted, additional stress, here are four amazingly powerful postures that will have you feeling back to your normal, on-top-of-it-all self in less than 20 minutes. Whenever you get a spare minute to yourself, try one or all of these postures to give you the best chance to relax, rejuvenate and boost your energy levels.
#1 Sitting cross legged (Sukhasana) – 5 minutes
As we sit in a cross-legged position, we are working to open the hips, which is where we hold most stress in the body. Therefore we want to open the hips as much as possible. By straightening the spine we are also actively working to minimise any blockages in the body. Combining a seated meditative position with mindful deep breaths, you’re helping your body to transition from the sympathetic to the parasympathetic nervous system. This is where you will experience a calmer, more balanced state of mind, which is not only important for our mental health, but to also boost your immune system.
How to do it:
Sit comfortably and cross your legs, resting your hands on your thighs or in any comfortable mudra (for example hands in prayer). If your hands are resting on the thighs, try not to rest them directly on your knees as this pressure can become quite sore after some time and limit how long you can maintain the position. Bring awareness to your chest and breathe deeply. Maintain a mild contraction of the pelvic floor and focus on long, controlled breaths through the nostrils. Count for four seconds on the inhale, hold for two seconds, then exhale for six. Try to maintain this conscious breathing pattern for 3-5 minutes.
#2 Child’s pose (Balasana) – 3-5 minutes
Child’s pose is one of the quickest ways to regain energy within the body and return to a place of calm. As your body folds, your breath will slow, your heart rate will lower and all the systems in the body will begin to relax. Child’s pose offers the perfect opportunity to withdraw from any worries in the moment. This pose is a true treat for the body and mind.
How to do it:
Come to a kneeling position and allow your body to fold forward, resting your forehead on the floor and your buttocks on your heels. Your arms can be extended forward or placed beside your heels, whatever feels more comfortable for you. Softly close your eyes, focus on your breath, and allow your belly to sink a little further onto your thighs, giving a gentle massage to your internal organs.
#3 Legs-Up-The-Wall (Sarvangasana variation)– 5 minutes
This pose is one of the most beautiful ways to detoxify the body and relieve tired or cramped legs. By resting on your back with your legs up, the heart is given a chance to relax, the mind becomes clearer and stress will begin to melt away. All the while you will be renewing the blood and lymph drainage to the heart area. It is one of my personal favourites when I need to just slow everything down.
How to do it:
Bring your hips close to the wall and swivel around until your buttocks are pressed against the wall, legs are up and you’re resting on your back. Your legs should be at 90 degrees to your body. Gently close your eyes and allow your whole body to relax. You may like to cover your body with a blanket to keep warm. Stay here for 3-5 minutes, maintaining a conscious awareness of your breath. For those who want to take it a little deeper, take your awareness to your heartbeat.
#4 Corpse Pose (Savasana) – 3-5 minutes
While the name doesn’t sound so appealing, Corpse Pose (Savasana) is the most important of all yoga poses. This is a time when you can draw your attention deeply inward to explore the subtle sensations within your body. To really notice what your body feels and needs in the moment. Slow breathing will calm the nervous system, lower blood pressure, and draw you into a state of deep rest.
How to do it:
Lie flat on your back with your legs extended down the length of your mat and your feet softly falling out to the sides. Let the whole body be heavy and completely supported by the earth below you. Keep your arms resting at the side of your body with palms facing the ceiling. Close your eyes and take a few moments to scan the body for any tension you may still be holding on to. As you exhale, try to release this tension. Bring your awareness to your body. Scan from your toes all the way to the crown of your head. Allow each part of the body to relax. Stay in the position for 3-5 minutes.
If you take just a few moments each day to practice these poses you will continue through the holiday season with a renewed sense of calm and presence.
Jessica Dewar is the founder of Jessica Dewar Yoga, the first donation-only yoga studio in Australia. She is an internationally accredited yoga teacher, and has completed over 750+ hours of official training in India. www.jessicadewaryoga.com
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