We often hear our students express their assumption that a longer yoga practice is the most beneficial. We actually think that sometimes it’s the shorter practices that have the most profound and long-lasting effects. To encourage you to stay connected to your practice through this holiday season, we challenge you to invest just a small amount of time each day in your practice. Do you have 10 minutes to spare? Great. Lets get you started in embracing these 4 poses as a way to a more healthy, happy and relaxed you over this holiday season. Think of them as your friendly go-to holiday yoga poses that can help you connect to your body, mind and spirit anytime and anywhere.
1. Bitilasana (Cat/Cow)– A grounding foundational pose for any yoga practice. It gently warms up the spine while opening up the whole back body- thereby releasing stiffness and tension that can accumulate in tight muscles. The more we begin to move in between these two shapes, the more we notice how medicinal they feel as we mindfully open and close the more active front body, and the more receptive back body. Spend 2 minutes here, and notice the appreciation that will inevitably rise up.
2. Vrikshasana (Tree)– Excellent for strengthening the ankles and calves while also toning the abdominal muscles. Try spending 5-10 breaths on each leg while working and definitely using the wall as a steadying prop if you want to feel extra supported. Tree pose is made more accessible when the phrase “root to rise” is applied. As you ground down evenly through the sole of your foot, you’ll also begin to lengthen your torso, lifting up through your heart, melting your shoulders down your back and lifting your gaze. Begin to cultivate one-pointed focus by letting your drishti (gaze point) land on an object in front of your. As you feel into your balance, you’ll notice your thoughts slow down and elevation in your spirits that let your know your securely connected to the earth.
3. Ardha Matsyendrasana (Seated Spinal Twist)– Twists are nourishing for the kidneys which help keep us energized. Twists are also great for digestion and can be therapeutic for low back pain- just make sure you keep your navel engaged. From a comfortable seated position cross your right leg over your left, so that your right foot steps just outside your left thigh. On an inhale, lengthen your right arm up and plant your finger tips near your right hip. Use your left arms to draw your right knee in, and your spine up. Stay for a minute, with eyes half-closed and focusing on lengthening your inhales and exhales. Repeat on the other side.
4. Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall)– Here’s a decadent closing to any yoga practice. Legs up the wall is a restorative pose that helps relieves headaches, brings fresh blood to the head & heart, lowers blood pressure, relives low back pain and leaves you feeling refreshed. This is a great pose to try when traveling in airports, before bed or in the afternoon in replacement of a nap. Start by putting a folded blanket a foot away from the wall. Roll onto the blanket- hip first and slowly roll onto your back so that your legs go on the wall. Place a hand on your heart and a hand on your belly to help tune you into the rhythm of your body. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Your body and mind will thank you for it.