Holidays are meant to be a time of love, gratitude, peace, though they can also be a time that is anything but these descriptives. Making a turkey dinner for twelve can be stressful. Having to endure a day with your nit-picking brother, not so fun. Taking an overbooked flight across the country is exhausting.
The good news is that you can get through it. First is to set the intention that this will be so!
Next, there are restorative exercises you can do to keep ‘the calm’ during the holidays. If you wonder what restorative exercises are, it is a soothing yoga practice that deeply relaxes all systems of the body and is so good for you.
- Soothes brain and nervous system
- Reduces blood pressure
- Increases levels of “good” cholesterol
- Improves digestion and elimination
- Eases muscle tension
- Helps insomnia
- Boosts energy
Restorative exercises are supported poses done sitting or lying on the floor using bolsters, blocks and straps found at yoga studios. If you do not have these at home or while traveling, you can make due with pillows, blankets, books or waist belts.
Here are simple poses that you can do anywhere to reduce stress, fatigue and tension. You can do each pose for as long as it feels good.
- Child’s Pose. Reduces stress and fatigue by centering, calming and soothing the brain.
How? On all fours, relax your buttock back on your heels. Put your forehead on the ground. Extend arms forward. Close your eyes and gently breathe in and out of your nose. To release the pose, come forward onto your hands.
Modification. You can put a pillow between your torso and knees.
- Cat-Cow. Slows and deepens the breath, relieving stress and calming the mind.
How? On all fours, inhale, look up, curving your back, like a cow. Then, exhale, look down, rounding your back, like a cat. When you are done come to a neutral tabletop position.
Modification. For added comfort, place a blanket under your knees.
- Reclining Butterfly. Releases emotional stress.
How? Lie on your back, putting your legs into a butterfly position with bottoms of the feet together, knees out. Arms are wherever they are comfortable.
Modification. Fold a thick blanket vertically, placing behind your hips, run along your spine, and under your head. You can use pillows to support your knees as well.
- Happy Baby. Releases emotional stress as well.
How? Lie on your back, hug knees to chest. Then, point feet towards the ceiling, grab the outer sides of each foot and gently spread your legs apart.
Modification. Do a half baby with one leg at a time.
- Legs Up the Wall. Lowers anxiety and helps insomnia. Soothes swollen legs—especially from airplane travel.
How? Rest legs vertically against the wall with your torso at a ninety-degree angle as you lie on the floor. Arms are set comfortably to the sides.
Modification. To ease back tension, use a pillow under your buttock.
Wishing you and yours a very happy restorative holiday!