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Unwrap Yourself: Poses for Instant Calm During the Holidays

Story by The Travel Yogi

Posted: February 9, 2020

The holidays are here! Which brings happy celebrations along with a lot of hustle and bustle. While we love embracing all the chaos and excitement, we’re also big (obviously) advocates of carving out time to take care of yourself. After all, if you’re not showing yourself love and compassion, how are you supposed to be able to pass it on? So, without further ado, here are our tips and poses to transform the holidays from alarmingly hectic to joyfully busy.Holiday Yoga Poses: Mountain Pose (a woman stands straight with a candle behind her)  

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Your foundation and your rock. This is your quick anytime/anywhere pose for improving calm, groundedness, balance, posture, and focus. There’s no such thing as ‘just’ with yoga and Tadasana is not ‘just’ standing there.  Keeping your body active and aligned is hard work. It looks simple so you may be tempted to rush through it or disregard its importance, but don’t. Close your eyes, breathe and make sure you’re attentive. It’s a great way to check in with your body and build some positive muscle memory for all of your standing poses.  It can also be that momentary breath of calm in the stores, at the airport or just about any festively-hectic spot you can imagine...  

Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)

This instantly calming pose is our air travel hero. If you don’t want to bust out a full double pigeon in your airplane seat (not that they’re big enough anyway), a sitting or standing forward fold will hook you up with stress relief while energizing the body. Positioning your head below your heart allows for blood to rush to your head (wheeeee), which gives your cells a rejuvenating boost of oxygen and, in turn, calms the brain. It also lengthens the hamstrings and activates the inner legs and knees and is uber easy to do in the airplane’s aisle while waiting for the loo.   

Downward Facing Dog (Audo Mukha Svanasana in Sanskrit)

If the hustle of the holidays is leaving you feeling a little ruff (haha, get it?), this pose is a yogi’s go-to for calming, energizing, strengthening, and all-around feel-good stretching. And it’s no surprise as to why - some benefits include (*inhale*) a deep stretch to your hamstrings, shoulders, calves, arches, hands, and spine and building strength in your arms, shoulders, and legs. And on top of that it’s considered a mild inversion, and inversions can potentially relieve headaches, fatigue, and insomnia long term. But even more importantly, it’ll leave you feeling ready to chase allll the squirrels.  

Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)

What do you get when you cross Child’s Pose with Downward Facing Dog?… Extended Puppy Pose! (Or Child’s Downward Pose Facing Dog, but that doesn’t roll off the tongue as nicely). This hybrid pose combines the extension of Downward Facing Dog with the Melting Heart posture of Child’s Pose for all-around tension release, both physical and emotional. Holiday challenges?  Bring.It.On... your in-laws have nothing on this holiday tension buster.    Happy Baby yoga pose illustration

Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)

If there’s one pose that’s going to bring a smile to your face during a stressful day, it’s happy baby because, well, it’s a funny pose. It’s also awesome at calming the mind and de-stressing the body, in large part due to all of its fantastic physical benefits. It stretches the spine and inner groin, opens the hips, strengthens the arms and biceps, releases lower back tension, and reduces your heart rate. Plus, wiggling your tosey-woseys is fun.  

Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottana)

Whether it’s baking, shopping or wrapping, if you’re on your feet all day, chances are your hamstrings are screaming for some attention (“stretch me!”). Try giving them what they crave - a seated forward fold. This is one of the most effective poses for an entire body stretch because it stretches the whole back side of the body from the heels up through to your neck. When you stretch your spinal cord, a space is created between the vertebrae that improves blood circulation to all your nerves, which soothes the nerves and helps your mind relax. That’s why this spine stretcher has your back this holiday season (ha).  

Seated Meditation

Now don’t get us wrong we love presents (obviously, who doesn’t?), but we think being present is a much better way to find peace during the holiday season. Practicing meditation is about training your awareness to get a healthy sense of perspective. It’s not going to turn off thoughts or feelings like a light switch, but observing those thoughts and feelings without judgement will help you gain a better perspective. In other words, it gives you a better mindset so you don’t need to sweat the small stuff.  

Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)

Think way back to when you were in elementary school (not that it was that long ago…) and learning about shapes - do you remember being taught that the triangle is the strongest shape? (No, neither did we, but we looked it up). Extended Triangle Pose is a foundation pose across almost every different style of yoga. Not only does it strengthen the legs, feet and ankles, but it also stretches the legs, groin, hips, shoulders, chest and spine. And because it’s such a strong pose, it improves both physical and mental balance and stability.     

Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

It’s really no wonder why tree pose is so poplar (haha...that tree pun was pretty sappy). Practicing balance poses like this one will help you gain both physical and mental steadiness and poise. It’s super similar to the seated meditation posture because of its calming and meditative benefits, only it’s a standing variation which gives it the extra benefit of balance practice. When the holidays throw you curveballs, tree pose will help you handle them with grace. We could go on and on about why this pose is treemendous... (ok seriously, someone stop us).  

Eagle Pose (Garudasana)

Strength, balance, coordination, and harmony? Twist our arms. Or rather, twist our bodies. By crossing your legs and arms and squeezing them to balance (basically a graceful pee dance), blood flow throughout the body is constricted, which stimulates the release of fresh blood. All that fresh blood flow is what helps build calm focus and concentration, and as an added bonus, benefits the immune system. So not only will you feel more calm, you don’t have to worry about getting sick at the most inconvenient time to feel under the weather (phewf!)  

Lion’s Breath (Pranayama)

Lion’s Breath will help you find your Hakuna Matata… no worries for the rest of your (holi)days. For all the time that we spend stretching our bodies and working on mindfulness, it’s super uncommon to work on the face. Which is mind-boggling, considering all the stress and tension held in our faces. Lion’s breath’s breathing technique with a forceful exhalation stretches the entire face, which improves circulation and awakens your mind. We won’t lie, you’ll feel pretty silly doing it, but that’s part of what makes it great for relieving stress.   

Corpse Pose (Shavasana)

All that grounding and recentering is hard work, time to take a snooze! Just kidding. Corpse pose looks like a nap, but it’s a fully conscious pose aimed at being awake while completely relaxed. We know, we know, when you’re stressed and tired during the holidays a nap can sound preeetty tempting, but hear us out - softening completely allows yourself to settle and gives your nervous system time to reset. This will calm your mind, relax your whole body, and release stress, fatigue, and tension (let it go, let it go...).  

For the Ultimate Mind, Body, Spirit Rejuvenation…

Happy holidays everyone! When the holiday dust settles remember to find time to recenter and rejuvenate. We know it isn’t always easy (and we work in the industry, for crying out loud!), but an escape from the mundane keeps us young and laughing. As the first company to blend yoga and adventure travel, every day on a journey with us is an opportunity for yoga to ground you while we open up a world of adventure.Join us on a yoga retreat adventure in some of the world’s most breathtaking destinations.  Your 2020 self will thank you...   Unwrap Yourself: Yoga Poses for the Holidays