The holiday season is many things, but perhaps two about all others: joyous and stressful. It’s an odd blend, but one you can probably understand and relate to if you’re like most people. On the one hand, there’s joy in taking a few days off work, perhaps seeing family and/or traveling, and maybe celebrating a major holiday with some nice meals and gift exchanges. On the other hand however, traffic gets bad, houses get crowded, and there’s a lot of shopping and organization to do. Combine it all, and you get a lot of joy and a lot of stress.
One way to alleviate some of the stress, as well as generally keep yourself healthy (during a season with a lot of unhealthy temptations) is to sneak in some exercise when you’re able to. It can be a little difficult to find time for long runs, extensive workout routines, or trips to the gym. Yoga, however, is always available to you – particularly nowadays when all you need is a mobile app to work you through some poses.
Below, we want to point out a few simple techniques that make particularly good sense for the holiday season. These can help to relieve stress, keep you calm, and even work on some of the parts of your body that might be most affected by long hours on your feet or out walking around a shopping mall.
Yoga Journal actually put together an entire routine for the holidays, consisting of 14 different poses in sequence. If you have time, you should give the whole thing a look, as it is designed to activate your core and help you shed stress, both of which can be great for the general upkeep of good health and energy during a stressful time. But the plank pose, in particular, is excellent for developing and maintaining core strength. This is effectively a foundation for many of your most active muscle groups, such that a strong core can help you to better manage long, busy days.
Alternate Nostril Breathing
If you’re looking for a very simple technique for stress relief and relaxation, alternate nostril breathing is something to seriously consider. It’s been recommended a lot lately, everywhere from Hillary Clinton’s campaign recap book to a recent article on breathing tips for video gamers. The latter explains that the end result of a session of alternate nostril breathing is a greater sense of balance and clarity, which can certainly be useful during the holidays! There are different ways to go about this technique, but basically you’ll hold one nostril shut at a time, breathing deeply through the open one.
One common complaint as far as holiday season maladies go is lower back pain. It’s common to experience simply as a result of being on your feet all day – let alone reaching up to decorate a tree, decorate mantles, reach for store shelves, hang lights, etc. And nothing can ruin a good time quite like lower back pain! Downward-facing dog is one of the most popular yoga poses in existence, and probably one of the best for lower back pain as well, given that it targets and stretches both the lower back and the hamstrings. As one write-up put it, these muscles help to support your spine and help you stand and lift objects, so strengthening them throughout the holidays is a good idea.
This is what’s sometimes called a restorative posture, and a good follow-up to any of the above exercises. Indeed, it was mentioned in the same piece referenced previously with regard to downward-facing dog. Child’s pose, particularly mixed in with slightly more strenuous exercise, is an excellent backstretch and is known to be a relaxing pose that helps to “center” you, more or less. A lot of people turn to child’s pose before bed for this reason, and fitting it in at night throughout the holidays can keep you in a healthy and happy place.