6 Yoga Poses to Conjure Up the Holiday Spirit

Nov 18, 2016

Photo: pinterest.com

The most wonderful time of the year often comes with unwanted levels of stress and decadent food. Take some time to gift yourself with self-love, and channel the energy and joy of the season with these warming yoga postures.

Remember to appropriate warm up before doing any active stretching practice so that you do not injure yourself. Feel free to put “White Christmas” on repeat while doing this yoga sequence.

1 Cat-cow pose into tiger stretch (Durga-go into Vasisthasana)

Channeling heat with the breath is the perfect way to warm up the body on these chilly, wintry mornings.

How to do it: Start in an all-fours position with hands under the shoulders, knees under the hips. Be sure that your core is engaged to prevent an over exaggerated sway back. As you inhale, look up and arch the back. Exhale, curving the spine into an ice cream scoop shape. Repeat a few times then readjust the hands and knees if necessary.

To transition into Tiger (Vasisthasana), focus drawing the navel to the spine as the right hand and left leg reach in opposite directions. Hold for a few cycles of breath then repeat on the opposite side. Switch back and forth then return to Durga-go if you don’t feel warmed up enough. Imagine reindeer pawing and prancing through the snow.

2 Mountain pose with hands in reverse prayer position

If you can look at yourself in the mirror, this stretch looks quite like a penguin hold out his/her wings. Stand in Mountain Pose (Tadasana), feet beneath the hip bones, and your weight towards the balls of the feet. Energize through the spine. Breathe, lifting the arms overhead for the first breath.

Imagine gathering in snowflakes as the hands come to prayer position at heart center. On the hands open and circle downward to come at prayer position behind you, where the tips of your shoulder blades meet. Repeat the cycle of breathing 4 times.

3 Move from Penguin into Tree Topper (Tree Pose)

Since you are already standing, it is easy to move into the quintessential yogic balance pose known as Tree Pose. For the holidays, I am going to change up the imagery and position of the arms for you, though.

Shift your balance into one foot. It does not matter which foot becomes the support first. Go with intuition. As the opposite foot lifts to touch against the inside of the knee or as high as the inner thigh, picture the boughs of your Christmas Tree or the reaching branches of the menorah – both are images of balance and beauty.

Find stability and lift your arms into a wide “V,” and picture snow filtering through your fingertips and caressing your cheeks. Breathe deep. Hold on one side for as long as comfortable before feet.

4 Garland pose (Malasana)

Feeling tight in the hips? Around the holidays, people often confess to taking on much more than what they originally intended to do. People find themselves driving to the relatives for awkward family photos, shoveling snow, wrapping presents, decking the halls, and festooning the house with lights. All the tension that forms, that you might not even be aware of, will begin to accumulate in the hips.

From Tree Pose, you can step your feet slightly wider than your hips (or to the outside of the yoga mat). Turn the toes slightly outward. As you exhale, allow the tailbone to float down towards the earth. Feel the knees glide towards the toes.

Do not sit into this deep squat. Perch. Bring your hands to heart center, and rest the elbows on the knees. Pretend you are an elf on the shelf, chilling by the stockings above the fireplace. To release, inhale to lift yourself up and straighten the legs. You can stop at one, or you can up the tempo for a few more repetitions of Malasana to Wide Tadasana.

Read also – 10 Powerful Yoga Poses to Get a Flat Stomach

5 Lateral side stretch

Who doesn’t love candy canes? Conjure the image of this favorite holiday treat by standing with your feet together, toes pointing forward. Breathe the arms up and overhead. You can clasp the hands together or leave them separated.

As you begin to reach your hands over to the right, arcing the side-body as you do so, shift the hip to the left. Breathe fully into the left ribs, open the chest, and fill your mind with dancing candy canes and sugar plum fairies. Inhale to return to standing then switch sides.

6 Downward facing dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)

“Up on the rooftop click, click, click…”

That is right, it is bottoms up. Way up. In class, I tell people to imagine fingers walking up the length of the spine to get length through the back. For the holidays, how about Santa and his reindeer running along your spine towards the tailbone?

Make sure that while you are in Downward Facing Dog that the shoulders do not inch towards the neck. Keep the shoulders moving into the spine, and simultaneously lengthen to get the heels towards the mat.

Read also – 10 Yoga Poses That Improve Your Metabolism

To end this cheerful yoga sequence, rest in Child’s Pose (Balasana) for a few minutes. Breathe, and feel the joy that you have gifted yourself during this yoga practice. Find release in the moment of peace. Feel rejuvenated. Namaste and Happy Holidays!