Tuesday, 22 December 2015

Your Christmas holiday yoga practice

People ask me if I practice yoga over the Christmas break.  I find this puzzling because yoga practice is as natural to me as brushing my teeth.  You may not be able to practice as you normally do: routines are abandoned over the Christmas period but even a short practice of a few minutes can re-energize you when you are flagging, calm you if things are getting too much, relieve the stiffness of sitting too long, aid digestion or cultivate gratitude for time spent with friends and family.  Remember that if you indulge in a little self-care by practicing a few minutes, everyone will benefit.  

Below are some poses that you may want include in your Christmas yoga practice.  You will need two blocks, a yoga belt or dressing gown tie and either a bolster or cushions and a bolster.

Hero (aids digestion, you can even practice this after you have eaten) - Start by kneeling on your calves out to the sides as you sit back between your heels.  If you have knee issues, sit on blocks or cushions to elevate your hips until you feel comfortable.  Make sure that your second toes point straight back. Sit with the back of your hands on your thighs, first finger and thumb joined.  When you are ready to come out of the pose, lift your hips, remove blocks/cushions and bringing your hands forward, stretch your right leg back, pressing through the heel (this will feel so good!).  Repeat with the left leg.  Come to seated in Easy Pose on a block.



Figure of 8 neck rolls (helps stiff neck which may be caused by sleeping in an unfamiliar bed,  holding the phone in the crook of your neck when you ring friends to wish them 'Happy Christmas' so that you can be doing something else at the same time etc) - start with your chin level with the floor.  Exhale, drop your chin to your chest, inhale, circle  your chin to your right shoulder, exhale continue to circle your head round the back (if you have neck issues, circle your chin back to your chest), inhale bring your chin level with the floor.  This is half of the loops of the '8' so repeat on the second side to comple the '8'.





Seated Cobra (bring some revitalising oxygen into your body when you are flagging) - take your hands behind your back, fingers interlaced.  Inhale, lift your chest and your arm, exhale release.  Repeat twice more.



Heron variation (stretch hamstrings tightened by sitting)- sit with your legs outstretched. Bend your right knee and take the belt around the ball of the right foot.  Hold the belt in two hands, inhale and straighten the right leg.  On your next inhale, lift your leg to the point where you feel your leg starts to bend, the release a little.  Hold for 3 breaths then bend your knee and release.  Repeat 2nd side.



Cat/Cow (revitalise a stiff back (sat too long watching Christmas TV?), and soothe sore shoulders)- come onto all 4s, hands under shoulders, knees under hips.  Inhale lift your head and chest, tilt your tail bone to the ceiling.  Breathe out, tuck your chin, arch your back and tilt your tail bone under.  Continue working with your breath for several movements.




Swan - come towards the back of the mat, big toes touching, knees wide.  Walk your hands forward, bringing your head the mat or a cushion.  Press your tail bone back and stretch from your hips to your armpits and armpits down to your fingertips.

Squat (rich Christmas food given you constipation?) - from Swan walk your hand back and lifting your knees, rock back on your heel.  Take your feet wder than your hips and bring your palms together, elbows in your knee creases.  If you are struggling to get your heels down, roll up your mat to support your heel.  To come out of the pose bring your hands to the mat, exhale and lift your hips to stretch out the back of your legs. Inhale roll up slowly. 



Wide leg seated forward bend supported by a bolster or cushions and blankets (over-excited children given you headache?) - sit a block and take your legs wide.  Walk your hands forward and rest your right cheek on a bolster or cushions/blankets.  After a few minutes change to your left cheek.  When you are ready to come out of the pose, breathe in and come up very slowly.  Remove the bolster etc and taking hold of the outside of your thighs, draw your legs together.




Alternate Nostril Breathing - Please see my yoga video 'Oh no it's Monday! Breathing technique for calming'- https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6dY-NtZkAtQ on my YouTube Channel.



Happy holidays
Janet x

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