When the Holiday Season arrives, our social lives get busy and… guess what does out the door? Exercising (including our regular yoga practice), clean food, sleep and healthy routines… sometimes turning great evenings into a rather challenging mornings. While I am an advocate of fully enjoying every season with everything that comes with it (including parties), I am sharing some easy tips we can incorporate into our lives to stay healthy and feel great.
In another post we covered my 10 Tips to Stay Healthy During The Holiday Season, and today we will focus on yoga.
This yoga sequence will help you improve digestion, get your energy flowing, warm up the body and promote a good night sleep.
- Seated Belly Breathing. Abdominal breathing is the natural breathing of newborn babies and sleeping adults. It’s the quickest way to relax your nervous system and allow for an easier digestion. Prop yourself up on a blanket to position your spine well; you might want to sit on a pillow or block to allow for your spine to be straight. Cross your legs. Relax the belly completely and breathe slowly and deeply through your nose. When you breathe through the abdomen, it will feel like a balloon is gently expanding with each breath in and falling back down (contracting) with each breath out. Taken 10 deep breaths.
- Upavistha Bitilasana Marjaryasana (Seated Cat Cow Pose). Great for spine care and to start energizing your body, this posture promoted an internal massage that stretches and contracts your abdominals, aiding with digestion and energy flow. Stay seated as you are, place your hands on your knees. As you inhale, arch your spine into Cow Pose (belly moving forward, shoulders back) with the inhalation. As you exhale, round your spine, move your shoulders forward, draw your navel in and bring your chin to chest, taking Cat Pose. Repeat 10 times.
- Malasana (Garland Pose). Feeling bloated and gassy is no fun for you, or anyone around you, for that matter. This pose helps with digestion and helps you feel less bloated and gassy. Separate your feet about as wide as your shoulders, turn your toes out. Squat all the way down. Take your hands into prayer at your chest and place your elbows on your inner knees, pressing outward. Try to lengthen your spine and widen the space across the front of your chest and breathe deeply. Take 10 deep belly breaths in this posture.
- Utkata Konasana (Goddess Pose). This posture will help you build some heat in your body, allowing your energy to flow and burn some of the extra “holiday calories”. Come to stand on your feet, separate them wide, with your toes pointing out. Keeping a straight spine, squat down until your thighs are parallel to the floor. Bring your hands to prayer at your chest. Pull your navel to spine and tuck your tailbone under. Take 10 deep breaths, keeping your navel in and allowing your chest to expand (as opposed to your belly).
- Pavanamuktasana (Wind Relieving Pose). This is one of the best poses to help with digestion, since it massages different parts of your colon, promoting movement across the GI tract. When your right knee presses into your right side body, it massages your ascending colon; the left side takes care of your descending colon. Lay down on your back. Relax your left leg down and bring your right knee to your chest. Interlace your hands at the knee: pulling down towards your armpit, avoiding your ribcage. Keep your left hip down so your spine is flat on the floor. Take 10 deep belly breaths and change sides.
- Supta Matsyendrasana (Reclined Spinal Twist). In yoga, twists are known to help rinse your spine and squeeze away toxins. This allows digestive organs to soak in fresh blood flow, which helps optimize their digestive function. While laying down on your back, bend both knees 90 degrees and take them to the left: the left leg rests on the floor, both legs together and knees together. Stretch your right arm to the right side, palm facing down. Turn your head to the right and take 10 deep belly breaths. Release and do the other side.
- Viparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall). Lying on your back, bring your legs up and rest them against the wall, separating your feet hip distance. This promotes blood flow to the digestive organs and relaxes your nervous system. Bring your hands to your belly and go back to your slow, deep belly breathing. Close your eyes, relax the whole body. Once you’ve completed 10 deep breaths, bring your legs down and breathe naturally for a minute or so. Take your time to resume your activity.
Yoga can be really useful for everything life throws at you… even excessive partying! I hope this sequence helps you optimize your health and wellbeing during the Holiday Season. I will be sharing more tips on Instagram, so come over and say hi!
Happy Holidays, yogis!