A Restorative Yoga Pose to Beat Festive Stress
- Written By:Danielle Diamond
If thoughts of standing on long lines, baking, cleaning and hosting dinner for 30 family members (half of whom you don’t even like) have you feeling like a Grinch, then you might have a case of what experts are now calling “festive stress.” And, you’re not alone if you want to hibernate through the new year.
According to a recent poll, 65% of Americans claimed to feel extremely stressed around the holidays. Hosting family, financial concerns, and finding the perfect gift that will blow up your kid’s Snapchat story, contribute the most stress. While most people surveyed turn to coffee and sugar-filled snacks to push through ‘till the ball drops, we’ve got a better idea: yoga.
Yoga is a quick and easy way to decompress, ease anxiety, and give you a much-needed respite from the overwhelming demands of the season. A study from the Boston University School of Medicine found that yoga postures, meditation, and controlled breathing work together to help soothe the nervous system and calm you down.
“When we practice yoga and deep breathing during times of stress, the body moves from a survival response to that of a more easeful state known as rest and digest,” says Jillian Pransky, author of Deep Listening. “Our chemistry then shifts to help promote calm in our minds and brighten our moods.”
Restorative poses are designed to open the body in a gentle and comfortable way, while engaging our parasympathetic nervous system to take us into a resting state. The following pose allows you to let the body settle into the pillow to open the shoulders and relax the torso while supporting the legs in a butterfly position releases the hips from the stress of traveling long hours and sprinting through the mall.
Supine Bound Angle
Grab a yoga bolster or a hard pillow from your couch to support you in a reclining position.
Lying on your back, bend your knees and bring the feet to the floor as close to your seat as is comfortable.
Slowly open your knees out wide and bring the soles of your feet together.
You want to feel a nice stretch in the inner groin, but not as though anything feels like it’s being pulled too much.
Extend your tailbone toward the heels, and reach the crown of your head in the opposite direction, lengthening the spine.
Place the palms, face-up, next to your hips, and relax your shoulders down toward the mat, away from the ears.
- Lastly, soften your face, eyes, jaw, neck, and throat, coming into a nice even breath.
Want to get even more chill? Add this breathing exercise.
If you can’t do this in the pose above, this can be done while waiting to find a parking spot at the mall. Begin to take full deep breaths, creating a steady inhale and exhale; then mentally count the length of each inhale and exhale. Gradually begin to extend your exhale so that it is eventually double the inhale. For example, if you are working with an inhale of four, then you will exhale to eight. Once you find your rhythm without any strain, try to stick with it for at least 10 rounds of inhales and exhales, or longer if you can. You’ll instantly feel calmer after only a few rounds.
As you learn to control the breath to an even 1:2 ratio, the body relaxes and the mind becomes peaceful. The best part? It will almost always keep you from losing your cool in an uncomfortable situation, like when someone grabs the last Elsa's Ice Palace at Target, the one thing your daughter asked for.
If despite your best efforts, you’re still stuck in Whoville, then make sure to go easy on yourself; set realistic expectations and ask for help when you need it. Most importantly, find small ways to enjoy the season. Buying the perfect present for your boss won’t bring any more Joy to the World; so don’t sweat the small stuff- focus on the good stuff instead.
Danielle Diamond has been a yoga and lifestyle expert for over 17 years. She has written for Yahoo Beauty and The Huffington Post, and has appeared on the Today Show, Dr. Oz, Shape, Yoga Journal and Self Online. She was featured in Bobbi Brown’s Pretty Powerful campaign and is a featured teacher on YogaVibes and YogaDownload. Danielle teaches at A-list wellness events in NYC and The Hamptons, hosted by Wellthily, Gurney’s Inn and Yoga Journal. You can grab one of her free, 30 minute yoga with weights videos here.