10 Yoga Poses That Fend Off Stress During the Holidays

Stress and fatigue are often unwelcome guests during the holiday season. Stress might join you while cooking a holiday meal, decorating your house in preparation for a party, or shopping at a crowded mall. It can manifest as aches and pains, prevent you from sleeping through the night, and dampen your spirits during the holidays

You can beat back stress, and the inevitable fatigue it causes on your body. Fend off feelings of stress by stretching your body and encouraging healthy and restorative movement. Enjoy learning this gentle yoga flow that will help you relax, recharge, and restore your mind and body through the entire holiday season.

This yoga flow will take you about 10 minutes and should be done in a quiet space. Hold each pose for about five deep breaths. Holding these poses for a longer period of time will allow your body to fully adjust and align properly, assist you in building strength, and give your mind a restorative rest. There is no mat required, just you and your breath.
 

Tadasana - Equal Standing Pose

woman doing yogaTadasana is the perfect pose to close your eyes and take a few moments to breathe. This pose induces a meditative state and allows you to find some balance and calm your mind. This pose encourages both physical and mental relaxation. Tadasana is also a great opportunity to take a deep breath and set an intention or take a moment of gratitude for your practice.

Stand with your feet parallel to one another and about hip-distance apart. Distribute your weight evenly on your feet. Keep a very small bend in the knees by engaging your thighs in order to discourage locking your knee joints. Place your hands together at your heart center. Close your eyes and take five deep breaths.
 

Urdhva Hastasana - Hands to Sky

woman doing yogaUrdhva Hastasana is a pose that helps you move stagnant energy that may be weighing you down. This pose encourages openness and flexibility in your shoulders, spine, and heart center.

From your Tadasana pose, take a deep inhale as you reach your hands up to the sky. Root your feet down into the earth and extend your finger tips to the sky. Spread your fingers wide and the palms of your hands will face one another. Gaze straight ahead or slightly upwards, if you do not have neck sensitivity. Hold for five deep breaths.

 

Uttanasana - Forward Fold

woman doing yogaUttanasana can help calm your mind and relieve stress and anxiety. We often carry stress and tension in our neck and shoulder area; this pose physically takes the tension off of that sensitive area, while allowing your entire upper body to release and relax. While in this pose, focus on letting go all of the tension in your neck. Perhaps gently shake your head “yes” and “no” to ensure that your neck is completely relaxed. Imagine all of your worries and stress rolling off of your back.

From Urdhva Hastasna, exhale and then hinge at your hips and forward fold. You can rest your hands on the floor if they can reach comfortably. You can also reach for the backs of your thighs or for opposite elbows with your hands. Release all tension in your neck and allow your head, neck, and upper torso to completely relax. Close your eyes and hold for five deep breaths.
 

Adho Mukha Svanasana  - Downward Facing Dog

woman doing yogaAdho Mukha Svanasana encourages fresh blood to flow through your body, allowing you to feel energized and rejuvenated. This pose is considered a mild inversion because your heart is higher than your head. Inversions boast a list of benefits to help relieve stress such as encouraging fresh blood to flow to your brain, which helps calm the nervous system.

From Uttanasana, bend your knees and plant your hands down on the mat. Walk your feet toward the back of the mat so your body resembles an upside-down V shape.  Spread your fingers wide on the mat and press down with all four corners of your hands. Draw the sit bones up and back simultaneously and release your heels to the mat as far as they will go. Close your eyes and take five deep breaths.
 

Balasana - Child’s Pose

woman doing yogaBalasana is considered one of the most restorative postures in yoga. This gentle resting posture stretches the entire backside of the body, including your shoulders. With each breath, you can melt deeper into this pose and encourage your body to completely relax. This pose helps quiet the mind. By placing your forehead on the floor, you are allowing your body to ground down and enhance relaxation. Balasana is known to soothe the nervous system and aids the lymphatic system.

From Adho Mukha Svanasana, release down to a table-top position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Take your big toes in to touch one another and spread your knees wide. Begin to release your hips back over your heels and extend your arms in front of you. If this pose is uncomfortable for your hips, place a large pillow under your torso and between your knees and rest your head on the pillow for support. Close your eyes and hold for five deep breaths.
 

Dandasana  - Staff Pose

woman doing yogaDandasana stretches your shoulders, upper back, and chest. This pose allows for improved posture and alignment. Dandasana is a great static pose that encourages your mind to calm and focus. By lifting your chest in this pose, you’re encouraging your heart chakra to open, which is associated with compassion, love, and joy.

From Balasana, inhale back up to your table-top position with your hands directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Gently take your legs to one side to make your way down to the floor in a comfortable seat. Extend both of your legs out in front of you. Place the palms of your hands a few inches behind your hips with your fingertips facing your feet. Engage your feet by flexing your toes back toward you, engage your thighs, and engage your lower belly. Relax your shoulders down your back and draw your shoulder blades toward one another. Release your chin toward your chest, close your eyes, and take five deep breaths.
 

Janu Sirsasana - Head to Knee Forward Bend

woman doing yogaThe hip area is also a very common place in the body to hold onto emotions and stress. Janu Sirsasana is a gentle hip opener and forward fold. This pose also stretches the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings. By opening the hips, spine, and shoulders, you are encouraging release of the residual tension that often resides in these areas.

From Dandasana, bend your right knee and open it toward your right side. Place your right foot inside your left thigh with the heel towards your pelvis. Turn your torso toward your extended left leg and reach your hands toward the sky on a deep inhale. As your exhale, begin to hinge at your hip and forward fold over your extended left leg. Depending on your flexibility, you can gently place your hands on the floor on either side of your left leg. If you have deeper flexibility, you can reach for your left shin, ankle, or foot. Close your eyes and hold for five deep breaths. Inhale as you rise your torso up, extend your right leg straight to meet your left, and repeat on the left side.
 

Supta Baddha Konasana - Reclining Bound Angle Pose

woman doing yogaSupta Baddha Konasana is a classic restorative posture. This pose stimulates the heart and improves circulation that allows the body to move stagnant energy. This pose also helps reduce nervous tension and gives the body an opportunity to completely relax. Supta Baddha Konasana encourages relaxation of the abdominal muscles, which can be soothing for many digestive issues caused by stress.

From Janu Sirsasana, extend both legs out in front of you and slowly lower down onto your back. Once you’re on your back, bend your knees. Relax your knees out to the sides and place the outer edges of your feet on the ground. The heels and soles of the feet will touch one another. Gently allow your hips to open. Rest your hands on the ground on either side of your bent legs with your palms facing up. Release any tension or tightness in your body, allowing your body to completely relax into the pose. Close your eyes and take five deep breaths.
 

Viparita Karani - Legs Up The Wall

woman doing yogaViparita Karani is a wonderful pose to fully relax and explore your breath. By placing your legs up the wall, you’re allowing stagnate fluids to release, and fresh blood to flow through your body. This circulation boost allows your body to restore its balance. By doing this pose, you will encourage your entire body to relax and transition from activity to receptivity, which allows your mind to quiet.

From Supta Baddha Konasana, take hold of the backs of your thighs as you gently guide your knees in to touch one another. Give your knees a hug with your arms wrapped around your legs. Gently rock yourself up to a seat and position yourself next to a wall. Sit upright against a wall with one hip touching the wall. Slowly roll down onto your back and let your legs rotate up and rest against the wall. You may need to scoot your body closer or further away from the wall in order to find a comfortable position. Rest your arms out to the sides of your body or gently place one palm on your belly and one on your heart. Once you’re comfortable, close your eyes, and hold for five deep breaths.
 

Savasana

woman doing yogaSavasana is your reward after this gentle stress-relieving yoga flow. After flowing through these grounding and calming postures, Savasana will give your body the opportunity to receive your practice, and allow the restorative work you did to sink into all of the cells of your body.

From Viparita Karani, gently slide your legs down the wall toward your right side and roll over to the right side of your torso. Use your hands to press up to a seat and move your mat away from the wall. Gently lie all the way down and completely surrender. Allow your legs to extend down on the mat and your feet to relax open to the sides. Release every muscle in your arms, legs, torso, and face. Close your eyes and allow your body and mind to be completely still.

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About the Author

Jenna Saunders

Certified Instructor: Yoga; Meditation
Jenna found yoga as a student at Virginia Tech where she attended yoga classes at the on-campus gym. She moved to San Diego from the east coast after her graduation in 2008 and has grown to love the practice of yoga. Through her practice she discovered the healing benefits of yoga both on and off of the mat and hopes to help students learn about yoga beyond the physical asana practice. She completed a 200 hour teacher training with YogaWorks in April 2012 and the Seven Spiritual Laws of Yoga 200 hour teacher training with The Chopra Center in November 2014. Jenna is passionate about living a healthy...Read more