The holidays are a time of joy, thanksgiving, and revelry. But, they are also a time of crowded shopping malls, endless decorating and hosting, and an abundance of sweet treats that knock you off your fitness game every year. The combination of more eating, less time to workout, along with a myriad of emotional stresses brought on by the holidays, can leave you feeling less cheerful and more overwhelmed and holi-dazed.
Yoga can help. These five yoga poses can help you feel more relaxed, grounded and joyful. If you’re looking for more calming yoga moves, Beachbody’s 3 Week Yoga Retreat can help you sail through the holidays with ease.
5 Yoga Poses to Keep You Sane During the Holidays
1. Get grounded: Warrior 1
When holiday lines, traffic, and overall madness has you dashing, dancing and prancing about, it’s important to get grounded. With a strong foundation, we can weather any holiday storm. In this pose, feel the strong foundational energy through the legs and up through the core, as you get connected to the earth. Not even hectic family gatherings can shake you when you are firmly grounded.
How to do it: Standing at the top of your mat with your hands on your hips, bring your left foot back about three feet and pivot the back heel down about 45 degrees. Plant both feet strongly on the ground, and keep your hips pointed forward (adjust the width of your feet if needed). Bring your hands together in front of your heart or lift your arms straight overhead with your upper arms by your ears. Take three deep breathes, and then switch sides.
2. Give thanks: Upward facing dog
This pose is a fantastic way to physically open your chest and emotionally open your heart to channel the spirit of gratitude. With a daily practice of this pose, you’ll be feeling the joy of the season.
How to do it: From plank pose, lower your body down to the mat keeping your elbows close to your sides. Press into the palms and the tops of your feet as you lift your chest up and straighten your arms. Engage your legs and lift your knees off the mat to get a nice belly and leg stretch. Gently lift your chin and open your chest. Take three deep breaths, and be sure to take a moment to feel gratitude for the many gifts in your life.
3. Get centered: Boat pose
This pose is all about the core. Staying centered during the holidays means so much more than great abs — it means connecting to the true spirit of the holidays. So come back to center with this deeply centering core pose.
How to do it: Sit on your mat with your legs out straight and hands by your sides. Lean back slightly and lift your legs so that your hips form a 45-degree angle. If you’re ready for more of a challenge, lift your hands off the floor and reach your arms forward and down. For less of a challenge, bend your knees and keep your shins parallel to the mat. Hold the pose for 30 to 60 seconds while taking deep breaths.
4. Get balanced: Side plank
During the hectic holiday season, it is imperative to maintain balance. Not just during our yoga practice, but as we go about your lives off the mat. This challenging pose is likely to knock you down a few times, but then again, so will the chaos of your holidays. Don’t let it keep you down! Falling is often the best opportunity to learn to re-calibrate and re-align to find the strength to get back up and try again.
How to do it: From plank pose, rotate up to your right, placing your right hand on your hip and stacking your right foot on top of your left. Your body should form a straight line from your head to your heels. If there’s too much strain on the left wrist, lower your left knee to the mat. Take three deep breaths, then repeat on your other side.
5. Release tension: Double pigeon
Many of us hold tension in the hips, so hip-opening poses, such as double pigeon, can provide a much needed emotional release during the holidays.
How to do it: Sitting tall and cross-legged, place your right ankle over the left knee so that your shins are stacked. Keeping both feet flexed to protect your knees, take a deep inhale, opening your chest, and then exhale as you fold forward over your shins and bring your fingertips to the mat in front of you. Each exhale can act as a gesture of surrender, and release tension from your hips. Take 10 deep breaths, switch legs, placing your left ankle over your right knee, and take 10 more deep breaths. If the double pigeon pose is too challenging, try another hip-opening pose: bound angle. To do this, sit tall on your mat, bring the soles of your feet together in front of you, and lower your knees as far as you can. Hold your feet with both hands, inhale to open your chest, and then exhale, folding forward over your feet. Take 10 deep breaths, and then sit back up.