The holiday season can be a time for cherishing family, expressing gratitude and enjoying some delicious comfort food. It’s the most wonderful time of the year… Well, sort of. The holidays can also stir up a sense of uneasiness. There’s a lot to get done and sometimes the constant consumption of goods and food, can make us feel a bit overwhelmed. When this happens, your mind and body need a break, so roll out your Apeiron Yoga mat and practice these poses to feel refreshed and rejuvenated!
Child’s Pose (Balsana)
The essential resting posture. This pose is humbling in nature, it gets us to bow down and slow down. The forward bending aspect of this pose is also great for aiding with digestion. By taking several deep breaths here, it gives your internal organs a nice massage, helping settle that second helping of holiday cookies. For some extra support in this pose, make it restorative. Roll up a blanket to place at the back of the legs for your backside to rest on. This will take some pressure off the knees so you can be there for a longer period. You can also place a folded blanket or bolster lengthwise between the knees to have a cushy and elevated support to rest your chest on and forehead or cheek on.
From a table top position, begin by moving the sit bones back and down towards the heels. Walk the hands forward and stretch the arms out in front of you, release the chest to the thighs and the forehead to a block, blanket or directly on the mat. Hold for 5, 10, 15, 20 ….. breaths.
Several rounds of cat/cow will help with abdominal cramping (from a stuffed belly) and will relieve tightness in the neck, shoulders, and lower back. To get the most benefit, focus on linking your breath with the physical movement. Inhale deeply into cow, expand across the chest, open the throat and bring your gaze up, and then exhale round your spine and release the crown of the head down stretching the back of the neck. Take your time and enjoy 10-20 rounds of this delightful spinal flexion and extension.
If table top is not a comfortable or accessible position, cat/cow can also be done seated on a chair or the floor, or even standing.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Probably the most iconic and foundational yoga poses, downward dog is a must. The pose has several physical benefits; it strengthens the arms and shoulders, tones the core, and stretches the spine and hamstrings. As an inversion, downward dog help helps to lift up your spirits by bringing fresh blood to the brain. Taking long, full breaths in this pose can help relieve stress and re-energize your body and mind.
Enter this pose from table top position and step your hands about a hand’s distance in front of your shoulders. Press down into your palms and all 10 fingers, curl your toes under, and begin to tilt the pelvis as if you are moving into cow pose. Lift the knees off the mat and straighten the legs, reaching your heels to the mat. Continue to feel your sit bones extend up as your chest melts towards your thighs.
Chair pose (Utkatasana)
This posture will help you build stamina to get through this busy time of year. You can come into this posture from mountain pose or a standing forward bend. Make sure that when you come into the full expression that the knees are parallel and align over your second toes. Breathe deep while you strengthen the ankles, knees, calves and thighs -- feel the burn! Internally, this posture helps to stimulate the abdominal muscles and diaphragm. For some digestive support in this pose, take a twist!
Keep the breathe flowing in this pose to help the muscles in the face relax. Maintain a softness at the base of your neck and through your shoulders.
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
This posture is a great way to calm down. If you have tight hamstrings or want a more restorative variation place a rolled up blanket or a pillow under the knees. The forward bend, gently compresses the belly and will help improve digestion. Keep your spine long for a deep stretch through the back and shoulders. Embrace the inward nature of the posture, this will help to calm the brain and relieve stress. As you breathe in, lengthen forward and as you breathe out release into the posture.
Use a yoga strap or even a tie to help you extend a bit further in the posture. Place the strap or tie in both hands and loop it around the balls of the feet for support. Gently pull the strap or tie towards you as you exhale and hinge forward.
Seated Half Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
Say hello to the ultimate detoxifying posture! This deep twist cleanses your internal organs and aids with eliminating waste. When you inhale sit up tall and on the exhale let the twist begin at the belly button, then twist through your rib cage, chest, and back shoulder. Continue to breathe deep, lifting up on the inhales and twisting deeper on the exhales.
Caption: There are several variations of seated twists so incorporate different approaches depending on how you feel physically and your mood.
Wind Relieving Pose (Pawanmuktasana)
The power of this pose, is in the name! Practicing this pose relieves gas from the digestive system, improving the efficiency of your digestion and alleviating bloating, indigestion and constipation. Make sure you start with the right leg when performing this asana. You want to stimulate the ascending colon first (on the right) and then move to the left side, to massage the descending colon. This is necessary to properly activate the digestion.
Relax into this pose! Keep the arms and shoulders soft as you hug the knee in. If placing your hands on the shin bothers your knee, rest the hands at the back of the thigh with the fingers interlaced.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
The most important pose to practice!! Treat yourself in this posture, grab blankets, pillows, eye pillows, whatever will make you cozy and relax deeply. Bring your full attention to the simplicity of your breath. Feel the belly gently rise on the inhalation and release on the exhalation. Let all of your muscles soften and become heavy. Be completely still. If your mind is racing in this pose, that’s ok, it happens to all of us. Be patient and kind to yourself, come back to the breath. Rest here for 10 to 20 minutes.
Play relaxing music or a guided meditation while in this pose to help you fully relax and restore.
Artist, musician and certified yoga teacher, Adam is the founder of Apeiron Yoga. When not on the mat or in the studio, you can find Adam building beautiful websites or going on adventures with his son, Miles. Adam pushes himself to Live Limitless in all aspects of his life and hopes to inspire others to do the same through the Apeiron movement. Follow him on Instagram at @infinity_in_a_second.