Whilst we all love a little festive fun, we can’t deny that the Christmas period can get overwhelming at times. When socialising and celebrating begins to feel like too much, yoga can help you feel more relaxed.

Mix up your yoga routine this Christmas / Photo credit: Unsplash
Mix up your yoga routine this Christmas / Photo credit: Unsplash

Yoga instructor at Fly LDN – Sophie Heatley – shares her favourite yoga positions you can practice at home to unwind, restore and use as your antidote for all the Christmas mayhem. 

Child's Pose (Balasana)

Child's Pose is the ultimate resting position, and it pops up in pretty much every physical yoga class we go to. It gently lengthens the spine, thighs, hips, and ankles, relieving tired legs and feet. 

Start by kneeling on your shins, sit back onto your heels with the toes untucked and rest your stomach on your thighs. Bring your forehead to lay on the ground in front of you and close your eyes. Your hands can either reach straight out in front of you or back towards your heels - whatever feels most pleasing for your shoulders.

Top tip: Make this position more restorative by placing a few pillows or bolsters between your inner thighs. This elevates the hips a little higher than the knees, taking the pressure off the knee joints, creating more space for the hips to soften and the spine to lengthen.

Dangling Pose (Baddha Hasta Uttanasana)

Dangling Pose is an excellent way to increase the flexibility of your hamstrings, decompress the spine, and massage your digestive organs by gently compressing the abdomen. The pose involves a forward fold, which helps to bring down the nervous system, making it a great option for relieving festive stress. In other words, the folds trigger our body's natural rest and restore state. 

Stand with your feet around hip-width apart, spreading out through the toes and grounding down into your feet for stability. Let the knees bend slightly and allow yourself to fold forwards over the thighs. Try to relax the head and the neck as much as possible. You are aiming to look between your legs rather than down at your feet. By releasing your head and neck, you can use their weight to aid in the decompression of your spinal column. From there, interlock your hands at the elbows and let them, well, dangle! 

Top tip: As you dangle, see if you can direct your breath into the back of the body. Try to breathe, or imagine the breath moving into the space between the shoulder blades and into the gaps between each and every one of your vertebrae. This way, you are using the expansive presence of your breath and the forward fold position to open the back.  

If you suffer from back pain, try bending your knees even deeper and rest your forearms on the thighs. See if you can keep your spine a little straighter too. 

Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)

Spinal twists are efficient for teasing out any stress that may have formed in your paraspinal muscles. If you’ve spent the day running errands or carrying bags full of presents, then this one might be for you. 

Twists almost act as a natural irrigation system, compressing the digestive tract slightly. When you exit the twist, any areas feeling a little trapped or blocked around the stomach are encouraged to open up and release. 

To safely come into the twist, lay down on your back and hug your thighs towards your stomach. Give yourself a little squeeze and then release your arms and bring them into a cactus shape or T-shape. Let your knees knock over towards one side. If your spine is angled towards one side, see if you can shuffle your hips back slightly - so the spine is in one long line. Make sure to do both sides and spend equal time on the right and the left so as not to cause any imbalances.

Top tip: You want the twist to come more from the middle and upper regions of the back, rather than just from you shifting your hips. To calm the mind, with every exhale, imagine wringing out any stress that you may have been carrying around with you. 

From here, you could intensify the twist by (a) drawing your legs closer to you or (b) crossing your top thigh over your bottom thigh in a bind, like you would do if you were crossing your legs at a chair. If the twist causes any discomfort in the lower back, unbind the legs and try placing a pillow between the thighs. 

Waterfall Pose (V​​iparita Karani)

Waterfall Pose (often referred to as ‘legs up the wall’)- nurses tired legs and feet by relieving any pressure on them, whilst gently stretching the back of your legs. This position is also known to treat mild backache. 

Shuffle your pelvis up towards the base of your wall and then prop your legs up against it. You could also do this against your sofa or bed, bending the knees over the corner. Make sure your legs are totally relaxed, so your body can gently and passively find release. Try to find stillness here for at least 3-5 minutes. If you are happy in the pose, you can rest there for anything up to 20 minutes! 

Top tip: If you have been standing up all day or are suffering from tired or achy feet, you could elevate the hips slightly by placing a pillow under the pelvis. This reverses the pulling effects of gravity on the legs, encouraging blood circulation to the heart and head, elevating venous drainage, and allowing your heart rate to slow down. 

Please note: While this is an incredibly restorative pose, it is recommended that pregnant people and those with high blood pressure or glaucoma avoid this one. 

Supported Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

During the winter months, our eating habits change, and by the end of November, we’re batting off mince pies and yule logs at every corner. In return for our merriment and overindulgence, we may find ourselves experiencing a bit of bloating. This pose is a great way of easing out a bloated belly.

Grab a couple of pillows and come to lie on your back. Walk your feet a little closer to your hips, lift your pelvis, and then slide a handful of pillows under your sacrum (think the flattest part of your lower back). Lower yourself back down gently. 

Top tip: You can either keep your knees bent or straighten the legs out – the latter will extend your spine a little bit more and encourage more of a stretch for your abdominal wall and hip flexors. This is a great one to take any pressure off your stomach and get any stagnant, blocked energy (also referred to as wind flowing. 

For more information, visit: www.flyldn-online.com

by for www.femalefirst.co.uk

Tagged in