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Yoga for the HolidaysBy Cassie Brewer Posted 01-Dec-2016

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The holiday season means many things, like crisp winter air, beautiful decorations, and time with our loved ones. However, not every part of the holiday season inspires warm, fuzzy feelings, and when it comes to holiday stress, I am definitely an expert.

I come from a big family (nearly 300 of us on my mother’s side alone), and no matter how far we’ve scattered all over the world, we all manage to get together for Christmas. Some years, it is a great celebration, filled with warm hugs, happy conversation, and platters of tamales. Other years, it’s a disaster, filled with old grudges, political arguments, and platters of tamales (some things never change).

But even the best of family parties has its stressors: did we make enough food? Will the weather be too bad for traveling family? Cousin Emma had a baby last month - did anyone remember to get him a gift? Luckily, I’ve got a trick to help me re-center when these moments come up: a little yoga practice.

Over the years, I’ve found that even five minutes of yoga can really help calm my nerves, giving me the strength to power through the busiest of holiday preparations. I start my day with a few asanas. I do a few more before bed. In fact, I’ve even been known to spend some particularly stressful moments in vriksasana in the hall bathroom! With a regular yoga practice, you too can experience a calmer, easier, and healthier holiday season.

Not sure where to begin? Here are a few simple poses, built to encourage relaxation, that will be perfect for a yogi of any level:


Vriksasana

Also called the “tree pose” vriksasana is a powerful pose, meant to promote balance and strengthen your core. Simply stand on one leg, with the other foot resting against the side of your standing knee (ballerinas among us may recognize the position as passé). Bring your hands together in a praying position and breathe deeply. Hold the position as long as you can, and switch legs when you’re done for a little extra balance.


Balasana

This pose is considered one of the most calming and restorative in all of yoga. In fact, this position is so calming that many little children take to it by nature - which might be why it’s known as “child’s pose.” Kneel on the floor and fold your body forward, with your arms either outstretched in front of you or at your sides. Again, breathe deeply, and place your forehead on the floor. As you lay there, you will stretch out everything from your backside to your shoulders, which helps to alleviate the holiday stress you may be carrying.


Ustrasana

After a big holiday dinner, many of us wind up feeling ready to pop. Stretch out your belly and relieve some of that stress with ustrasana, or the “camel pose.” Begin by kneeling, and slowly arch your back. Bring your hands toward your heels and let your head hang backwards. Take five or ten deep breaths before slowly straightening the spine once again. Repeat as many times as you need to - just remember to be gentle on your spine.


Viparita Karani

This pose is especially great for relaxing after a holiday event or a long day of searching for the perfect gift. Simply lay on your back with your backside as close to the wall as you can. Then, lift your legs and lay them against the wall. That’s all there is to it - and that’s probably why viparita karani is known as “legs up the wall.” This pose is incredibly beneficial to the body. It has been known to calm anxiety, lower blood pressure, and help relieve cramped legs! In fact, we can benefit from making this pose a part of our bedtime routines all year long.


Savasana

If you’ve taken any yoga class, you are likely familiar with savasana, or “corpse pose.” It is how most yogis end their practices - laying flat on their backs with their arms and legs outstretched, simply breathing and relaxing in the moment. Frankly, this is one of the greatest ways to center yourself in the midst of a stressful situation! Try out savasana whenever you feel overwhelmed this holiday season, and you just might find yourself handling the season with a new kind of peace of mind.

 

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Cassie Brewer is a makeup artist and freelance writer living in sunny Southern California. She writes about diet and wellness in order to help others not only be beautiful on the outside, but radiant on the inside. Read more http://cassiembrewer.weebly.com/ and follow @cassiembrewer


 



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    "Not every part of the holiday season inspires warm, fuzzy feelings, and when it comes to holiday stress, I am definitely an expert."  Cassie Brewer


     

     

     


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