6 Yoga Poses to Fight Your Inner Grinch This Christmas
It’s no secret the holidays are full of love, laughter and lots of fun, but they can be stressful with the social commitments, a busy work schedule, shopping, wrapping, hosting and travelling. I’m exhausted just thinking about it all.
You may be aware that yoga increases your physical flexibility, but with its attention to awareness, breath and moving with the moment, it’ll increase your mental flexibility as well. It’ll increase muscle strength and tone, perfect posture, improve energy and athletic performance.
Don’t let the inner Grinch steal your Christmas this year with these 6 yoga poses you can do after a great cardio session, group fitness class, or just at home in your living room.
Standing Forward Fold
This pose stretches the hips, hamstrings and calves while strengthening the thighs and knees. It also removes built up tension in the back and neck thanks to its ability elongate your spine.
Standing with feet at hip width, hinge at the hips and reach toward your toes with a micro bend in your knees. Place the hands anywhere they land – the thighs, the shins or the feet. Don’t push yourself beyond what is comfortable and relax into the stretch. Hold for ten long breaths and feel that holiday stress melt away like chocolate in the sun.
Revolved Crescent Lunge
A great way to build strength and tone leg muscles, this pose also increases flexibility in the spine and rib cage. It also stretches the hip flexor which is directly linked to lower back pain.
Standing with feet at hip width, step one leg back, rest on the ball of your foot and a micro bend in the knee. Lunge forward with the other keeping the front knee directly above the front ankle. Bring hands to heart center and if you’re feeling stable, slowly rotate the opposite elbow to the front knee. If the twist adds too much complexity, simply face forward with hands in prayer position.
Head to Knee Forward Fold
Not only is this pose awesome for stretching out tight hamstrings from running, dead lifts or Body Pump class, it also aids in digestion. It stimulates the liver and kidneys and lengthens the spine. Hold for ten long breaths on each side.
From a seated position, bring one foot in toward the inner thigh of the opposite leg. Rotate shoulders slightly to center them with the extended leg. If it is comfortable and available, begin to reach forward with a flat back and place hands anywhere they land – the thigh, the shin or maybe around the extended foot. If available, round down and place head to knee.
Wind Removing Pose
Feeling a bit sluggish from too many indulgences the last few days? Aptly named Wind Removing Pose, the bad boy massages the abdominal organs and stimulates the ascending, descending and transverse colon. It helps your body absorb nutrients and eliminate waste from the food that you eat. Plus, it releases tension in the lower back.
Starting on your back with your legs extended, pull your right knee to your chest and interlace your fingers just below the kneecap. Use your biceps to gently pull your knee toward your shoulder. Hold for ten breaths, switch sides. Then bring both knees to the chest, reach for opposite elbows or interlace fingers beneath the knee caps and pull your knees as close as possible to your chest. Hold for ten deep breaths and slowly release.
This pose is perfect for releasing the lower back while opening tight shoulders, lengthening the spine and detoxifying the body. It is the perfect pose to do during these often-indulgent holidays because it stimulates the digestive tract. Think of it like a wet towel, by twisting you can wring out your system like you would a wet towel.
From a flat position on your back with your legs extended, bring your right knee toward your chest, arms extended to form a T. Rotate the knee to the left, across your body. If available, place your left hand lightly on your right knee to enhance the stretch. If comfortable, turn your gaze to your right finger tips or simply look to the sky. Close your eyes and let the twist work it’s magic.
Legs up the Wall
This restorative posture is just that, restorative! All that holiday stress will be gone after a few minutes in this pose which allows the mind and body to completely relax. No experience needed! It’s great for increasing circulation, and draining fluid in the legs. It stretches the hamstrings and releases tension from the lower back. Been wearing a lot of high heels lately? This will also help soothe swollen feet!
Cozy up to a wall with your tailbone as close to it as possible. Melt your back into your mat as your walk your legs up the wall. Make any adjustments you need to get comfy – maybe grab a pillow for under your head or place a blanket on top of your trunk. Bring your awareness to your breath and focus on the mantra, “I breathe in. I breathe out.” Rest in this pose as long as it takes to restore your body and mind for the rest of the holiday festivities.
If you have any medical conditions, be sure to check with your doctor before starting any workout program. And remember, the In-Shape yoga instructors are always here to help, so join us for a class soon!