With so much going on this time of year—from holiday parties to shopping trips to visits with family—it can be tough to squeeze in some yoga. But now is exactly when you should be doing it. “Yoga alleviates stress, relieves muscle tightness, and eases mental tension,” says Anita Perry, yoga instructor and author of Yogaminute. “It’s all about being mindful of your breath, which helps release hidden tension everywhere from your neck and shoulders to your jaw and hands.” In other words, your stress about complicated family dynamics or gift giving anxiety will suddenly seem a lot more manageable.
And good news for people with packed schedules: While taking an entire hour-long class designed around relaxation, like yin yoga or restorative yoga, is amazing, even just a few minutes can help. “A minute spent relaxing your body, focusing on your breathing, and setting an intention for the day really resets your brain,” Anita says. Looking for a few specific moves to help you feel as zen as possible this time of year? These six are a great place to start:
Child’s Pose: This pose helps relieve tension in your lower back and feel more grounded. To do it, start on all fours, then sit back onto your feet while lowering your forehead to the ground and reaching your arms out in front of you.
Rabbit Pose: From Child’s Pose, stretch your hands toward your feet and try to hold on to your heels. At the same time, arch your back and touch the crown of your head to the ground.
Thunderbolt Pose: From a kneeling position, sit back on the soles of your feet. Keep your spine straight and place hands on your knees. Stay still and focus on your breathing.
Standing Forward Bend: “When you lower your head below the heart, it brings oxygen and blood to the brain and helps you feel less stressed,” says Anita. From a standing position, bend forward at the hips while lengthening the torso. Reach your arms toward the floor or, if you can’t reach the floor, grab your elbows with the opposite hands and let them hang.
Standing Side Bend: From a standing position, extend both arms overhead with palms facing each other. Hold on to the right wrist with your left hand, then pull the arm to the left while gently bending in the same direction. Repeat on the other side.
Mountain Pose: This pose has you just standing still, but it requires a lot of thought. Position your feet so you feel the earth underneath them, stay nice and strong through your legs, pull your belly button into your spine, lift up through your torso and chest, drop your shoulders, and keep lifting through the crown of your head. From there, focus on your breath moving from the top of your head down to your feet and back up in a circular motion. “The best part is you can do this pose anywhere, in line at the grocery store even, and nobody knows what you’re doing,” says Anita.
This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for medical diagnosis or treatment. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat a health problem or condition. Always check with your doctor before changing your diet, altering your sleep habits, taking supplements, or starting a new fitness routine.