The holidays are meant to be time of slowing down and for spending time with loved ones. But sometimes the holidays can be a time of great stress for us. We find ourselves constantly rushing from task to task, multi-tasking, and checking off our endless shopping lists. What we fail to realize is that life is short and if we keep going in a stressed fashion – this season of connecting with ourselves and others will pass us by. We may find ourselves regretting not taking the time to just slow down and enjoy the moment. To help you get into the spirit of the holidays with no stress, we’ve created a restorative holiday sequence that you can do easily at home anytime.
By intentionally releasing the burden of stress and tension, it allows us to come to our natural state of being; of relaxation and joy. It also helps us to connect more deeply with the present moment and others around us. By taking this time for inner peace and stillness, we can find ourselves becoming more patient, calm, as well as loving towards ourselves and our loved ones.
Find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed. Be sure to clear your space so its clutter free to relax your mind. Set some quiet music and maybe even some candles to further set the mood for peace.
To start your restorative holiday flow, come into a simple seated Easy Pose on your mat. Begin with a counting breath pranayama practice. To do this, take a big inhale in slowly for a count of 3, hold the breath briefly for a second or two, and then exhale out slowly for a count of 3. You can slowly work up to inhaling and exhaling for a count of 4 seconds or even 5 seconds depending on your preference. Elongating your inhalations and exhalations in this way helps to induce relaxation and slow down your central nervous system.
Restorative Holiday Mini Yoga Flow
1. Child Pose
Allow yourself to let go and release tension in your body in Child pose. As you sink towards the mat and rest here, breath here for several minutes. With every exhale, feel any stress leaving your body. With every inhale, feel yourself filling up with peace.
To do this pose, begin on your hands and knees. Sink your hips back towards your heels as you reach your arms forward. Relax your belly onto your thighs and rest your head towards the mat. Take several long deep breaths here and stay here for up to a minute if needed.
2. Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog, is an inversion pose, where we allow blood to flow to our head elevating our mood. Inversions also energetically brings ourselves into a different perspective; as we are looking at the world from an upside down perspective. This analogy can relate to stressful situations in our lives. By taking time to see a situation from a new perspective, we can start to focus on the more positive things about that situation. For example, during the holidays, we can re-frame our perspective to a more positive one, by focusing on spending time with loved ones, giving to others, beautiful family traditions, and peace.
To do this pose, begin on your hands and knees. Spread your fingers wide and press your palms into the mat as you begin to lift and reach your tailbone up towards the sky. Broaden through your collarbones and look down towards your ankles or the mat in between your palms. You can keep your knees bent here or work on extending them straight to stretch your calves, hamstrings, and ankles. Stay here for several breaths, for up to a minute.
3. Bound Angle
The hips are an area where we tend to store alot of tension in our bodies. Allow yourself to melt into this pose by releasing into this stretch and holding for up to a minute.
To do this pose, begin in an Easy pose. Bring the soles of your feet together as you allow your knees to gently fall open onto the mat. Keep length in your spine as you hinge forward at the hips and lean in towards your feet. Keep your neck soft here and breath into your hips. You can use a blanket or blocks under your knees to elevate them for support if your hips are tight. You can also sit on blanket or bolster to relieve tension from your knees and hips.
4. Supine Twist
Relax your body and mind with this deep twist and hip opener. As you release into Supine Twist pose, close your eyes and stay here for up to a minute on each side. Allow your mind to be quiet and revel in this moment of peace you have created for yourself.
To do this pose, begin by lying down on your back and draw your knees into your chest. Allow your knees to softly fall over to your left side and extend your arms out to a ‘T’. Option to bring your head to gaze in the opposite direction of your knees. Hold for several breaths and switch sides.
One of the most important poses in yoga, Savasana is a great way to just let go and release. Use props such as a blanket, eye pillow, or aromatherapy, to enhance your Savasana experience. Stay here for as long as you need – you could do Savasana for just 5 minutes or even up to 30 minutes if you feel you really need the release and quiet. It’s your practice so always feel free to tweak however you prefer.
To do Savasana, come down onto your back and relax your arms and legs out comfortably. Allow the palms to gently open up towards the sky. Close your eyes and relax the muscles in your face. Let your breath be soft and natural as you just allow yourself to release and enjoy the moment.
Ending Your Restorative Holiday Practice
End your practice in Easy Pose with your hands over your heart. Ground down through your sitbones and elongate the spine up towards the sky. Relax the muscles in your body and face. As in you inhale, breath in ‘Peace’ and as you exhale imagine breathing out the word ‘Love’. Feel that peace and love radiating out into the world. Repeat for several minutes.