Reduce stress this Holiday season with a few of our favorite yoga poses.
Target: Core Balance
Start with your right leg forward with knee over ankle and left knee on ground with top of your foot flat on the mat. Try to point your back toes slightly forward while keeping your heel pressed down.Then bring your arms up toward the ceiling. The goal in this pose is to have your thigh parallel to the floor. You want to feel as if you are trying to reach the ceiling with your fingertips as you sink down with your lower body. Hold for 30 seconds, then repeat on opposite side.
Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints, not from the waist. As you descend draw the front torso out. The emphasis is on lengthening the front torso as you move more fully into the position. With each relaxing breath, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. Hold for 30 seconds.
Target: Back, Legs, And Arms
You can start from Forward Bend or kneeling on the floor. Step your right foot back followed by your left. Plant your hands firmly on the ground with fingers spread wide. Push your sitting bones towards the ceiling. Your body will end up in an inverted "V" shape. Your heels may or may not touch the floor. Hold for 30 seconds.
Target: Lower Back
Level: Gentle Begin by kneeling, exhale and lower your hips to the heels and forehead to the floor. Have the knees together or if more comfortable, spread the knees slightly apart. Your arms can be overhead with the palms on the floor or the arms can be along side the body with the palms up. Breathe slowly and deeply, actively pressing the belly against the thighs on the inhale.
Lie face down. Place your palms flat on the floor directly beneath your shoulders with your fingers facing forward. The tops of your feet should be flat on the floor. Keeping your hands, your hips, and the tops of your feet firmly planted on the floor, begin to lift your upper torso off the floor. Tilt your chin upward and lift your chest toward the ceiling.
If you feel comfortable and your spine is sufficiently warmed up, come into cobra pose again, this time using your arms to push your upper body higher.
Target: Outer Thighs Level: Moderate
Sit on floor with knees bent and shins stacked with right leg on top. Use your hand to position right ankle on left knee. Ideally, the right knee will rest on the left thigh, but if your hips are tight, your right knee may point up toward the ceiling (overtime, as your hips become more open, your knee will lower). Keeping your hips squared to the front of the room, hinge at the hips and slowly walk hands slightly forward. If this is enough of a stretch, hold here, or fold your torso over your thighs to go deeper. Hold for at least 30 seconds, then repeat on opposite side.
Target: Hip Flexors
Start kneeling on your mat with knees hip-width apart and hips directly over knees. Press your shins and the tops of your feet into the mat. Bring your hands to your low back, fingers pointing down, and rest palms above glutes. Inhale and lift your chest, and then slowly start to lean your torso back. From here, bring your right hand to rest on your right heel and then your left hand to your left heel. (If you can't reach your heels, turn your toes under; it will be easier to reach your heels in this modification.) Press your thighs forward so they are perpendicular to the floor. Keep your head in a relatively neutral position or, if it doesn't strain your neck, drop it back. Hold for 30 seconds.
Target: Obliques Level: Gentle
While lying on the floor, bring your knees together and roll down onto your back. Bring your arms straight out so that they are parallel to your shoulders. While keeping your head and neck straight, look up at the ceiling.Take a deep breath in and on your exhale, lower your legs while pointing them toward the right side of the room. Take a deep breath in and on your exhale, switch so that your legs are pointed toward the left side of the room. Do this 5 times on each side. Be sure to keep your upper back pressed to the floor. Once you've completed this pose, hug your knees into your chest and rock side to side.