THE HOLIDAYScan leave us feeling time poor and overwhelmed. During these tumultuous times we often forget one of
our most powerful calming tools – our breath. As you move through this gentle sequence, see if you can breathe deeply
right down into the pit of your belly. This will switch on your rest and digest, and after just a few minutes you will feel
your whole being begin to settle and release.
PHOTOS: YOTRAK; F9PHOTOS/ISTOCKPHOTO.COM
SAMA VRITTI PRANAYAMA –
This simple breathing exercise will leave you feeling almost
immediately calm. Sit comfortably using props to support you if
needed (a blanket or a bolster underneath the sit bones, or even
sitting on a chair). Close your eyes and begin to notice the natural
breath. As you feel your heart rate begin to settle, slowly count to
four as you inhale. Pause at the top of your inhalation, then count
four as you exhale – again taking a moment to pause in stillness.
If this counting feels too short, you can increase the count and
work your way up to a steady count of 10. Continue for 10 rounds,
starting again if you lose count. As you finish, allow the
breath to return back to its natural rhythm and notice
any changes in your body and mind.
ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA –
Downward Facing Dog
The benefits of this pose are endless. As well as giving your whole
body a deep stretch, it also calms the brain, helps to relieve stress
and headaches and creates energy. To come into Downward Facing
Dog, start on your hands and knees. Take a deep breath in, and as
you exhale begin to lift your knees up off the floor as you send your
hips towards the sky, straightening your legs. You might like to bend
one knee at a time to warm up your hamstrings at first, and as you
come into stillness, press your hands down into the earth, feel your
spine elongating and soften your heels toward the earth. Allow
yourself to ground as you experiment with the shape of the pose.
Try straightening your arms and bending
your elbows, straightening your legs
and bending your knees, and moving
your shoulders towards and away
from your ears – finding the
perfect expression for your
unique body. Stay for five
to 10 breaths.
PRASARITA PADOTTANASANA –
Wide Legged Forward Fold
Forward folds are known for their ability to cool the body, and this
pose also helps to calm the mind, as well as beating fatigue. From
Downward Facing Dog, walk your feet towards your hands, then
slowly unwind to standing. Turn to face the long edge of your mat
and step your feet wide apart (about 1.5 leg lengths). Bring your
hands to your hips and check that the outer edges of your feet are
parallel with the sides of your mat. With a flat spine, take an inhale
to lift your chest, then exhale and bend forward at the hip creases.
When your back is parallel to the floor, release your hands below
your shoulders (using a block or prop to support your hands if
needed). To deepen into the pose, walk your hands in line with
your feet, or for something a little more restorative, take hold of
opposite elbows and allow your upper body to relax. Feel your
spine lengthening and your chest reaching behind you for five to
10 breaths. To release, bring your hands back to your hips, and
with a flat back slowly come back to standing.
Once complete, take 10 breaths standing in mountain pose
with your hands together at your heart centre.
SETTLE SILLY SEASON STRESS WITH THIS QUICK, CALMING SEQUENCE