Is this how you're feeling right now?
Well, you're not alone. The holidays carry a lot of baggage. The (sometimes) unrealistic expectations of holiday mirth and cheer, mixed with bittersweet childhood memories, and topped with the financial burden of gift giving. At a time when we are supposed to be drawing within and slowing down, we are expected to speed up and go out.
Thus, the revival of my Restore sequence.
This is a series of poses that can be very useful in times of stress, to calm anxiety, or simply come back to balance when you are feeling run down.
1. Start seated- Close your eyes. Focus on your breath. Breathing in to a count of five and exhaling to a count of five. Let your awareness settle into the present moment and notice how your breath feels in the body as you expand and contract.
2. Bound Angle- Bring the soles of your feet together, spine reaching tall. Let your knees slowly and gently travel towards the earth. Begin to shift your weight to your left, then forward, right, then back. Keep slowly opening the hips by moving in these wide circles. Repeat 3-5 times, then reverse direction.
3. Cat/Cow- Come to hands and knees (Tabletop), shoulders over your wrists and hips over heels. Take a deep breath in and look up as you arch your back, drawing your chest slightly forward. Exhale and round the spine, gazing towards your navel and pushing the hands down into the floor. Repeat 3-5 times, integrating your movement with your breath.
4. Table Top Twist- Re-align yourself into table top position. Root down through your left hand and reach tall with your right arm. Bring it slowly underneath your left arm, twisting to the left and bringing your shoulder to or towards the floor. Stay here for a few breaths. Repeat on your other side.
5. Child's Pose- Keep your knees wide and bring your hips towards your heels as far as feels comfortable. Rest your forehead on the floor, a blanket, or a block. You can always use a blanket or bolster under your belly if your knees resist. Stretch the arms out in front of you and reach towards the front of the room. Breathe here, then slowly walk your hands out towards the right. Open up your side body as you push down and away with the hands here. Walk hands back to center and then over to the left.
6. Legs up the Wall- Move to the wall with 1-3 folded blankets or a bolster. Stack the blankets and line them (or the bolster) up to the wall. Begin with your right hip and shoulder just grazing the wall, sitting on the side of the blanket. Slowly swing your legs up the wall and let your head and shoulders rest on the floor. Don't be discouraged if you need to wiggle to get your hips closer to the wall, or if it takes you a few times to get there. You'll get there eventually. :) Keep your legs firm on the wall, but release your arms to your sides, palms facing the sky. Close your eyes and let all the tension and anxiety you've built through your day melt. Stay here 5-15 minutes, then slowly bend your knees and roll off your supports. Stay on your side for a few breaths, then slowly come back to seated. Ahhhhhhh!!!!!
Repeat as needed. If we can approach this time of year with a calm and balanced mind, we will most certainly find that true holiday mirth and cheer.
I am constantly amazed by the healing power of yoga and herbs. They inspire me to heal, to write, to teach, and to keep exploring.