5 Poses to Reduce Holiday Stress
By: Autumn Mulgrew | @afterrsummer
We all love the holidays, but there is certainly some (or a lot) of underlying stress related to spending time with family, getting just the right gift, and battling the crowds at your local mall. The best way to battle holiday-induced stress? Meditation, yoga, exercise. I know, I know, time is hard to come by when you are running around baking cookies, hanging lights everywhere, and searching for the perfect white elephant present. That’s why I have 5 easy stress-reducing poses you can do in less than 5 minutes. Try them right away in the morning before you brush your teeth, or while you’re waiting for the last batch of cookies to come out of the oven. Whenever you can find a spare second, get rid of some unwanted tension and stretch it out with these simple poses for opening your hips and shoulders!Agnistambhasana (Fire Log Pose)
Grab your matches and kindling and open up those hips with fire log pose. Sitting for long periods of time can cause tightness in the hips, and this pose is easy to do right at your desk. Start seated, then place your left foot on top of your right knee. Bring your right leg forward until it is directly underneath your left leg. Ground your hips, keep your spine straight and chest up. Stay here or gently lean forward for a deeper stretch. Hold for at least 20 seconds, then switch sides.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose)
This is a really popular pose for a deep release in the hips. Pigeon pose has several variations since it can be a difficult asana to get into for some. Start in a low lunge with the right foot forward, then lay your right shin on the ground in front of you. The closer your right shin is to parallel with the front of your mat, the more intense the hip stretch. Remember to listen to your body with this pose, I am personally unable to get my leg anywhere near parallel without my knee feeling pinched. You can keep your chest upright or, for a deeper stretch, you can bring your forearms to the mat and rest your forehead on your hands or the mat.
To take pigeon pose even further, you can grab your straightened left leg with your left hand and get a deeper hip stretch while also stretching your left quadricep. If you can’t quite grab your foot, you can use a yoga strap (or a kitchen towel in my case) to assist you.
Baddha Virabhadrasana (Humble Warrior)
Here we start to transition from hip openers to shoulder openers, since that is another area where we tend to hold stress. Start in a high lunge with your right foot forward, then turn your left foot to a 45 degree angle. Keep your hips square to the front to get into warrior I. From warrior I, clasp your hands behind your back and slowly start to hinge forward, pointing your arms up toward the ceiling. Remember to keep a 90 degree angle in your right leg, your hips pointing forward, and your back leg straight. The further you reach your arms up and forward, the deeper the stretch! If you want the shoulder stretch without the hip opening and balancing challenge of warrior I, try a wide legged forward fold with arms clasped behind the back. This has the same concept as humble warrior; lift the arms up and forward to open the shoulders.
Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)
Continuing on with opening up those shoulders, we have cow face pose. I am only going to be focusing on the upper body part of this pose but if you want to experience everything this pose has to offer, here is a great article outlining everything you need to know. Start seated, then reach your right arm up and behind your back while your left arm reaches down and behind your back. Reach until you are able to clasp your fingers together. This is a pretty intense shoulder stretch, so using a yoga strap or a towel to help being your hands closer together is a great option! Don’t forget to do both sides!Uttana Shishosana (Puppy Pose)
Last, but certainly not least, is puppy pose. This is probably my favorite shoulder stretch because there are so many variations such as having the ability to practice it against a wall as well as on the floor. Start in a childs pose, then inch your upper body forward until your legs are at a 90 degree angle. Actively reach your arms forward and press your chest into the ground. You can keep your forehead down for a more mild stretch, or lift your gaze forward and place your chin on the ground for an intense shoulder opening. To go even further, bend your elbows and place your hands in prayer above your head. If this still isn’t stretching your shoulders the way you need, grab a block or a similar sized object and place your elbows on that while placing your hands in prayer above your head. Continue to press your chest down toward the ground. This was such a necessary stretch while I was competitively swimming because it immensely opens the shoulders and chest.
A couple of these poses can easily be done at your work desk if you get a wave of anxiousness about all the shopping you still have left to do, but I think we all prefer to stretch it out in the privacy of our own homes. A great resource to consider to ensure you have enough space to move your body is the Tada Rug. No one will ever know it’s actually a giant yoga mat because it will look exactly like an area rug that fits perfectly with your room decor! You never have to move it out of the way, and you always have a space to stretch, meditate, exercise, whatever it is that helps relieve all of that built up holiday stress!
Tada Rugs is a 5x7 yoga mat disguised as an artistic area rug that you never have to put away. Tada is short for tadasana, or mountain pose, and our own backyard in the San Juan Mountains of Durango, Colorado is where we find our inspiration. Check out our new designs, Enter for a chance to win a new Tada Rug, and be sure to follow us for deals and insider specials! Like us on Facebook, Follow us on Instagram, or contact us through our website! Tie a room together and bring your practice home.
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