Merry Christmas! With Christmas falling on a Monday this year it’s likely that many of you reading this will have started your festive break already. You don’t need me to tell you that this time of year can be pretty manic and involve lots of sitting down, cooped up indoors. Whilst there is absolutely nothing wrong with this, I’ve put together a few Christmas yoga poses that can be done together in just a few short minutes. You can also dot them individually around the day. They’re all designed to help you keep calm, whilst working out some of the stiffness associated with sitting down.
Seated Side Stretch
Sitting cross legged, or in another comfortable seated position, place your right hand or forearm onto the ground beside you. Draw the lower abdominals in gently, inhale and lift your left arm up, then exhale and lean to the right side. Rotate your chest slightly to the ceiling, looking under your left armpit to avoid turning the pose into a forward bend. Breath here for three breaths, then inhale to return to centre. Swap sides.
Half Lord of the Fishes
If preferred, you can keep your legs in a cross legged position for this twist. Otherwise, extend your left leg out in front, whilst bending the right leg in. Cross the right leg over the left and place the sole of the right foot flat to the floor. Draw the left leg under the right, so that the side of the foot is somewhere near the right hip. Check in that both hips are on the floor. If the right hip lifts up, extend the left leg back out. Inhale to lengthen the spine upwards, and exhale to twist round to the left. Place the right hand or elbow onto the right knee to encourage the twist a little deeper, and use your left hand behind you for support. To extend the twist, take your gaze over your left shoulder. Inhale to lengthen, exhale to twist deeper. Inhale to come all the way back to the front and swap sides.
Fire Log Pose
This is a pretty aptly named pose for some Christmas yoga! Starting in cross legged position again, place your right foot directly on the left knee. Adjust the left foot to be underneath the right knee, and flex both feet. Flexing the feet in these bent leg poses helps to protect the knee. Alternatively, just place the right shin in front of the left back in crossed legs if this feels better for you. Inhale to lengthen and lift up before slowly folding forwards with the exhale. Keep the gaze in front of you to keep the spine long, even if it feels like you’re not folding as deeply. Hold for three breaths, and inhale to come up. Swap sides, switching which shin is in front if you’re doing the second variation.
Start in all fours. Aiming to keep the hips directly over the knees (maybe enlist a mirror or helpful family member for this!) walk the hands forwards. Eventually, your chest or chin might reach the floor, but focus on moving your hands until you feel a stretch around the shoulders. Back off if you feel like you’ve gone a bit too deep, and stay for three deep breaths. Slowly walk the hands back in to come out, and then come into child’s pose for as long as you need.
Supine Heart Opener
For this pose, you’ll need to grab a block. If you don’t have one, use a chunky book with a fluffy jumper draped over it to cover any sharp corners. Place the block or book on the mat and lie over it, with the block just below your shoulder blades. You might need to adjust it slightly until you feel comfortable. Release any muscle tension, letting your spine rest completely on the block with your head touching the floor. If you feel any pinching, consider using a thinner block or book. Stay here for five to ten breaths.
Bonus: alternate nostril breathing
This breathing exercise is a really nice form of mindfulness to centre you when the festive period gets a bit busy. Avoid if you have a cold that’s blocking your nose. Sit in a comfortable position, perhaps with on knee up to rest your arm on. Next, bring one hand up to your face, resting your thumb and ring finger either side of your nose, with your index and middle fingers resting on the third eye area. Using your thumb and finger to gently block one nostril at a time, breath in and out of the other nostril for five breaths, counting to five for the inhale and exhale. If you feel comfortable doing this then switch to this pattern: inhale through the right nostril, exhale through the left. Inhale through the left, exhale through the right, counting to five each time. Repeat for five to ten rounds.
Hopefully you found these Christmas yoga poses useful! Keep an eye out for more yoga tips and routines by checking in with my yoga posts regularly.