'Tis the Season
For a lot of people, this time of year means lots of family time, festive music, sweet treats and acts of love. It’s a time of giving, appreciating and, for many, a time of worship and praise- no matter what universal power you believe in. It’s a great time to reflect on the past seasons of growth, hurdles, pain, success, and set personal goals for the coming year.
Now, let’s keep it real. This time of year can also mean many weeks of cold, short days with more darkness than light (in the Northern Hemisphere, at least). It might mean weakened immune systems, less self-control, more indulgence, financial hardship, and stress. It’s easy to become overwhelmed and feel over-worked and under-productive. We’ve been there, too!
Of course, we know that light will slowly start to outstay the darkness and flowers will replace the bare tree branches, eventually. But, in the meantime, let’s make a point to live in the moment, soak up the present and breathe when life starts to feel like a never-ending carousel ride.
For starters, we’ve compiled a list of ten yoga poses that can be especially beneficial during these times of stress, seasonal depression, and stiff joints. While no pose is an instant miracle worker, when done regularly over time, the following poses are known to be extremely beneficial in more ways than one. So, how about taking a few minutes out of your busy day to appreciate every inch of you and breathe in life and appreciation for all that you are? How lucky are we to have bodies that can bend, stretch, flow and carry the weight of our big hearts, beaming souls and (sometimes over-indulgent) bellies? The outside world sure seems a lot more bearable when our inside world is content. Stop being so hard on yourself. Take time to make your heart smile and ease your busy mind this holiday season.
So, here’s to you, yogi- wherever you may be, physically, mentally and spiritually. This is your little reminder to breathe peace in and breathe out stress. Notice how it feels. Hold onto that feeling for a little while.
10 Poses for Stress Relief
Childs Pose- Balasana
Child's pose can be done either with feet together and knees wide, or with both the feet and knees together. Entering this posture sends signals to the mind that your body is in a safe position. Placing the third eye on the ground is known to be grounding and calming for the mind. Child's pose with knees together is also great for digestion, as your knees are able to gently massage the intestines.
Puppy Pose- Uttana Shishosana
Similar to child's pose, placing the third-eye on the ground calms the mind. The deep shoulder and spinal stretch in puppy pose is known to relieve symptoms of chronic stress and tension held in the shoulders and back.
Leg Up Wall Pose- Viparita Karani
This restorative pose is great for both the back and legs. The partially supine position can relieve lower back tension while elevating the legs promotes drainage from excess fluid build up. This is a great posture when battling restless leg syndrome, fibromyalgia or varicose veins.
Happy Baby- Ananda Balasana
Happy baby reduces the arch in your lower back, helping ease low back and sacral pain. This carefree positioning provides for an instant mood boost. The infant-line pose opens the hips, releasing stress and calming the brain.
Standing Forward Fold- Uttanasana
Standing forward bends allow you to relax the upper body, while engaging the legs and abdomen. This is a great pose for relieving tension in the spine, neck, and back. The positioning of the upper body can relieve headaches, help with insomnia, reduces stress, anxiety, and depression, over time. It is also known to be therapeutic for asthma, high blood pressure, and sinusitis.
Downward Facing Dog- Adho Mukha Svanasana
Downward facing dog is a naturally energizing pose that engages the majority of the body. It has been known to calm the brain, help with stress, depression and relieve symptoms of menopause. It is also a great pose for improving posture and relieving neck and back pain.
Bridge Pose- Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Bridge pose provides an excellent back stretch, reducing back pain and minor headaches, and improving circulation. It can also calm the brain and improve symptoms of fatigue, anxiety, hypertension, osteoporosis, and sinusitis.
Lotus Pose- Padmasana
Lotus pose is a deep hip opener. If full lotus is not in your practice, you may experience benefits from half lotus, as pictured above. In addition to opening the hips (where much of your emotions are stored), lotus is known to calm the mind, increase awareness/attentiveness and develop better posture.
Fire Log Pose- Agnistambhasana
Fire log pose is another great hip opener. This pose is known to release built up emosion and tension from the hips, calm the mind, relieve anxiety, tension, and stress.
Corpse Pose- Savasana
The king of all yoga poses: corpse pose is extremely calming and relaxing. This pose is known to lower blood pressure, reduce a headache and help combat insomnia. Although it is relaxing, when done correctly, corpse pose can also provide a boost of energy and reduce fatigue.