Holiday Yoga Flow

A yoga sequence to help you de-stress and digest this season.

You can still relax in winter weather. Meditating in the snow photo via shutterstock.

You can still relax in winter weather. Meditating in the snow photo via shutterstock.

‘Tis the season to be jolly, but one too many indulgences could make your body cry out for help. As we stuff our stomachs, sample holiday cookies, and spend nights creating gift lists, it’s important to find healthy ways to decompress that don’t involve leftover pie or wine.

Try this 10-minute yoga flow to combat holiday stress, calm the nervous system, improve blood circulation, and aid in digestion after one too many squares of Grandma’s famous fudge.

One-Leg Seated Twist

Sit tall with legs extended straight in front of you. Bend your right knee, hug it into your chest, then place your right foot down on the outside of your left thigh. Place your right hand on the ground behind your tailbone and twist to the right hooking your left elbow on the outside of your right knee. Inhale your spine long and tall, exhale to twist further. Hold for several breaths, then repeat twisting to the left.

Benefits: This gentle twist alleviates tension in the spine and puts a small amount of pressure on digestive organs, wringing out any toxins. The movement helps relieve tightness in the upper back and neck, which can be caused by hours in a car or extended time at the dinner table.

Knees To Chest

Lie on your back and pull your knees into your chest. Slowly rock side-to-side and front-to-back, massaging all areas of your spine. After rocking, become still, squeeze your knees close, and apply pressure to your abdomen.

Benefits: Massaging your back will feel great after holiday travel or a long sit-down dinner. Pulling your knees into your abdomen will press on your digestive organs and help move toxins along.

Bridge Pose

Lie on your back and position your ankles under your knees. Place your arms by your sides with palms facing down. Lift hips towards the sky, bringing your knees, hips, and shoulders into a diagonal line. Slowly start to inch your shoulders closer to one another to increase the backbend and open your chest. Breathe here for at least five breaths.

Benefits: Bridge pose brings your hips above your heart, reversing the flow of blood and energizing the mind. This position also stimulates the lungs, thyroid glands and abdominal organs. Bridge is proven to alleviate stress and calm the nervous system.

Reclined Spinal Twist

While lying on your back, position ankles under bent knees. Cross your right leg over your left, as if you were crossing your legs in a chair. Let your knees fall to the left side and extend your arms out from your shoulders with palms facing down, making a ‘T’ with your arms and torso. Keep shoulders grounded. If the twist is too intense or pulls your right shoulder off the mat, uncross your legs and simply stack your right knee over left. Return to center, uncross your legs, and take the other side. Breathe in each twist for several breaths.

Benefits: Spinal twists massage inner muscles and organs, essentially wringing out toxins while bringing in a rush of fresh blood packed with oxygen and nutrients. This flush expels any contamination from your tissues and encourages organs to function properly. Twisting is an effective way to improve sluggish digestion, making you feel normal again (or get your geared up for a second helping of Christmas dinner).

Low Cobra

Lying on your stomach, bring your forehead to the mat. Place your hands beneath your shoulders with fingertips facing forward and elbows into your sides. Lift your chest up by pressing your hands into the mat. Broaden and expand your chest, pulling your heart forward and up. Keep your neck in line with your spine by gazing just a foot in from of your face. Send breath into your body for five cycles.

Benefits: Cobra gently works the muscles in the spine and helps yogis develop strength and suppleness throughout their backs. This pose lightly presses on internal organs and aids digestion while stretching the abdominals. Cobra is typically sought out for it’s heart-opening benefits. Expanding the chest is known to take an emotional weight off the mind, boost mood, and reduce stress or anxiety — something everyone needs around the holidays.

Child’s Pose

Starting in tabletop position, separate your knees to mat-width distance and sit back on your heels. Let your arms extend forward and rest your forehead down on the mat. Breathe here.

Benefits: Child’s pose stretches the spine and releases the lower back. This gentle bend also relieves tension in the hips and stretches the shoulders as arms extended forward. Child’s pose allows yogis to rest their foreheads on the mat helping soothe and nurture the mind.