For many, the holiday season can be packed with bustle and merriment. While we may enjoy the celebrations and social obligations (or not), the sheer volume of activity can lead to stress and exhaustion. Now, more than ever, it’s important to make time for self care and rest. Perhaps counter intuitively, the time you take for yourself will actually give you energy, restoring your good cheer and recharging reserves so you can enjoy the holidays without feeling depleted.
There are many ways to take care this holiday season. Feeding yourself nourishing, healthy food and staying hydrated is one way. Keeping up with your exercise routine is another. In addition, consider adding a restorative yoga practice to your evenings (or any time, really). It will help replenish adrenals and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is vital for restoring whole body equilibrium and staying healthy through high-stress periods.
For this practice you’ll need: 2 yoga blankets or large towels of the same size. Fold blankets or towels into a narrow, rectangular stack. Make sure the corners are even with each other and there are no bulges or folds – be obsessive about the neatness of your stack!
Legs up the wall:
Lie on your back with your legs up the wall. Optionally, the blanket stack can be placed lengthwise under your lower back to elevate the hips, but only if this feels comfortable and safe. Make sure your hips are as close to the wall as you can manage, while still being able to completely relax. Note: this is NOT a stretching pose, being able to let go is the most important thing here. Spread your arms to the side, palms up, and remain still and relaxed with your eyes closed, breathing evenly for 10-12 minutes. This pose reverses the effects of gravity and is great for circulation, swollen, tired feet and even refreshes the digestive organs.
Mountain brook pose:
Lie down over your blanket stack, lengthwise, so the bottom of the stack is above the sacrum (hips still on the ground) and the top of the stack is below your shoulder blades (shoulders still flat on the ground). Spread your arms and legs and relax completely. The support under your mid back will allow your abdomen to open and relax, and decompress the muscles of your back and shoulders. Remain for 10-12 minutes, watching your breath.
Sit cross-legged on your blanket stack, in a comfortable position that you can hold for 5-7 minutes. Sit up tall, elongate your spine from the base through the crown of your head. Relax your shoulders and close your eyes. Inhale for a slow count of 4, hold for 2, exhale for a slow count of 4, hold for 2, and repeat. Continue this breathing practice for 5-7 minutes, stop if you feel out of breath or agitated at any point. This exercise forces you to consciously breathe, which often means we breathe more deeply and activates the parasympathetic nervous system. Though relaxing, this breathing meditation also helps calm and focus a busy mind.
How do you combat holiday stress? Share with us in the comments or on our Facebook page.