Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Stress Free Holidays: Yoga to Restore Your Body and Mind

Even with a healthy diet and some herbal allies, the holidays can still leave us feeling depleted or downright depressed.  If the thought of shopping for one more present or attending another holiday party makes you want to scream, it's probably time to take a step back and nourish your mind and body. 

The following are three restorative postures that can help you find peace this time of year. No need to strive, no need to grasp.  It's time to melt.

1. Supported Childs Pose: Begin by kneeling on a blanket, with your knees a little wider than hip-width apart.  Place a bolster, or 3-4 folded blankets between your thighs.  Sink your hips towards you heels, supporting your torso completely by the bolster and your thighs.  Turn your head to the side, reaching arms forward around the edges of the supports or behind you, resting on the floor.  Stay here for 3-5 minutes, turning your head in the opposite direction halfway through.  Allow the tension to melt off of the shoulders and lower back, and gently quiet the mind.


2. Supported Side Twist: From childs, come to hands and knees and move the bolster or blankets to the side.  Feel free to move through a few Cat/Cow postures to release any tension in the lower back.  Drop your right hip down to the floor, supporting it on a blanket if necessary.  Keep your knees bent, legs extending out to the left as comfortable.  Place the short end of the bolster or blankets in contact with your right hip.  Lengthen the spine, and then gently turn towards your supports and lie down, turning your head to the side. Stay for 2-4 minutes, then repeat on the other side.  Feel the muscles of the entire back start to release, and allow this gentle twist to support your digestion.


3. Legs up the Wall: Slowly press yourself up to seated, moving softly to the wall.  Place 2-3 stacked blankets about 6 inches from the wall.  Begin with your right hip and shoulder just grazing the wall, sitting on the side of the blanket.  Slowly swing your legs up the wall and let your head and shoulders rest on the floor.  Don't be discouraged if you need to wiggle to get your hips closer to the wall, or if it takes you a few times to get there.  Keep your legs firm on the wall, but release your arms to your sides, palms facing the sky.  Close your eyes and let go of all the tension and anxiety that's been building.  Stay here 5-15 minutes, then slowly bend your knees and roll off your supports.  Stay on your side for a few breaths, then slowly come back to seated.

Kristin Henningsen MS, CH, RYT


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Kaplan Center for Health and Wellness
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