Recapture the festive feeling by slowing down and giving yourself the gift of yoga
The time constraints and social commitments of Christmas can make relaxation feel like an activity reserved for after the festivities have finished. However, setting time aside to practise yoga not only helps you destress, but it can also aid your digestion over this indulgent period. “When it comes to reducing tension, yoga can be as effective as massage,” says Kelly McGrath (kellebelleyoga.com). “It’s okay if your mind is busy or you feel pulled in different directions during times of stress and anxiety; yoga presents us with the opportunity to breathe deeply, release muscle tension and calm the nervous system.” The following poses can be each held for 3-5 minutes for a yin yoga style practice. When you enter each pose, close your eyes and allow a soft gaze so you can take your focus inwards and soothe your mind from any worries.
This pose works to release tension in your hips and groin and enhances circulation to vital organs in the lower belly. 1. Begin by lying flat with your legs extended. Bring the soles of your feet to touch and allow your knees to drop out to the sides, creating a diamond-like shape with your legs. 2 Bring one hand to your belly and one hand to your chest, to reconnect with your own breath.
This pose releases tension in the neck, upper back and lower back. It’s a calming position that encourages introspection. 1. Sit with your legs extended straight out in front of you. 2. Start to fold forwards over your legs, allowing your back to round. You can sit on a blanket or pillow to play with the height of your seat, until you find the optimal position. 3. If your hamstrings are tight, bend your knees and place a rolled blanket or bolster underneath them. 4. Bring the awareness to your breath and encourage your body to surrender into the pose. Send the breath to the back of your body.
A gentle pose that calms the mind and helps to relieve stress and fatigue. 1. Come to your hands and knees. Separate your knees as wide as your hips. 2. As you exhale, start to bow forward, and lay your body between your thighs. 3. Keep your arms long, palms facing down. Bring your forehead to the floor. 4. Allow all tension in your shoulders, arms and neck to melt away. 5. Send the breath to the back of your body.
We end each practise with Savasana, a pose of deep restoration where we consciously relax muscular and skeletal tension in the body. 1. Lie flat on the ground. Extend your legs almost as wide as the mat and let your arms rest by your sides with your palms facing the ceiling. 2. Allow your body to feel heavy, completely supported by the earth beneath you. Softly separate your teeth to allow your jaw to release and relax. 3. Gradually notice the feeling of complete stillness.Kelly McGrath is a vinyasa and yin Yoga teacher. She can be found at kellebelleyoga.com and @kellebelleyoga
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