5 Yoga Moves to Relieve Holiday Stress
Best yoga moves to beat seasonal stress
A good yoga session can soothe your mind just as much as your body.
The problem: There’s so much going on, you’re in danger of short-circuiting
The fix: Eagle Pose
Why it helps: So many things are calling for your attention right now (family! work! a limited online sale!) that your brain is in overdrive. Eagle helps build concentration as you wrap yourself into the pose and focus on keeping your balance. You’ll also stretch your upper back and shoulders, relieving tension while strengthening your legs and butt.
How-to: Stand tall with arms at sides. Bend knees, balance on right foot, then cross left thigh over right, either resting left toes on the oor or hooking them around the back of right calf. Extend arms in front of you and bring right arm under left elbow, pressing palms together or as close as possible; lift arms, keeping shoulder blades pressed down. Hold, then undo the position and repeat on the other side.
The problem: You’re really (really!) tense
The fix: Star Pose
Why it helps: Traffic! Airport delays! Your darling mother-in-law coming to town! Whatever the cause, your tension levels are probably mounting along with your credit card bills. Try star pose: It’s a restorative posture that not only helps relieve physical strain but also lets you take a mental break as you breathe into the pose. Plus, it’s a good way to release tension in the hips—something many of us have developed from focusing on forward-motion activities like walking and running.
How-to: Sit on the floor with legs extended, arms at sides. Bend knees out to the sides, bringing together soles of feet. Hinge forward from hips, lowering top of head toward feet; clasp hands together over toes. Hold, then sit back up.
The problem: You’re stuck sitting through school plays, long meetings, and way too much traffic
The fix: Extended Side Angle Pose
Why it helps: Whether you’re working long hours in the hope of saving up for some days off or just stuck in the middle seat on the plane, the holidays can often mean you’re spending a lot of time on your keister. Extended side angle pose opens up the whole side of your body, counteracting any hunching over you may be doing while bringing more air—and energy—into your lungs.
How-to: Step feet wide apart and extend arms out to shoulder height with palms down. Turn left foot out 90 degrees while turning right foot in slightly. Bend left knee 90 degrees with left knee directly over heel and lift right arm over head, opening up right side of body. If you can, bring left hand to the outside of left leg or onto a yoga block. Hold, then switch sides.
The problem: Gingerbread cookies and peppermint bark are calling your name
The fix: Straddle Forward Bend with a Twist
Why it helps: Sugar cravings can spike when the holidays roll around—after all, there are only so many times a girl can say no to chocolate. Good news: A straddle forward bend with a twist can conquer the problem on a couple of levels. The forward bend gives you a moment to pause and reflect (“Do I really want that cookie?”), while twists stimulate digestion—so you may realize you’re not hungry at all.
How-to: Stand with feet wide, toes pointing forward. Reach arms out to sides at shoulder height; palms face forward. Hinge forward from waist, bringing right hand to floor. Twist torso to left, lifting left hand toward ceiling. Keep head, neck, and shoulders aligned as you deepen pose. Hold; reverse to start and repeat on the other side.
The problem: Constantly gazing at your device is killing your neck
The fix: Altar Pose
Why it helps: All those hours you’ve spent scrolling down on your smartphone or swiping on your tablet in search of last- minute bargains can lead to tight shoulders and back pain. Altar pose provides relief by stretching the neck, shoulders, and upper back and taking your muscles into a fuller range of motion. Plus, it’s an energizing pose—which means you’ll have a little more oomph to get through a few more of those items on your to-do list.
How-to: Sit on the floor with feet crossed in front of you (you can also sit on a chair). Raise arms overhead, keeping elbows in line with ears, and clasp fingers together, rotating hands so palms face the ceiling. Press shoulders down as you lift hands up; release.
To get our top stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Healthy Living newsletter