The Holiday Express Yoga Flow

The Holiday Express Yoga Flow

It’s the holiday season, and the most wonderful stressful time of the year for many people. Amongst all this chaos, how can you slow down and take a moment for yourself? With this quick flow you can take a breath before getting back to the holiday bustle. Set aside the Christmas decorations and credit cards, grab your mat and relax.

Image Credit: Jamie Koonce on Flickr.
Image Credit: Jamie Koonce on Flickr.

1. Mountain Pose (Tādāsana)

  1. Stand with your feet together, big toes touching, heels slightly apart.
  2. Ground yourself evenly on all four corners of your feet.
  3. Relax your shoulders, lengthen your neck and soften your lower back.
  4. Let your arms relax along your sides, palms to the front, and gaze forward.

2. Forward Fold (Uttānāsana)

  1. Stand in Tadasana, keep the legs tight.
  2. Bend forward at the hips and place the fingers on the floor.
  3. Try to hold the head up and stretch the spine. Move the hips a little forward towards the head to bring the legs perpendicular to the floor.
  4. Draw the navel to the spine.

3. Chair Pose (Utkatāsana)

  1. From Uttanasana. Bend your knees and drop your hips, bringing your weight onto your heels.
  2. Lift your torso up with your arms raised overhead.
  3. Press your lower legs back so your knees are behind your toes.
  4. Drop your tailbone, clutch your front ribs inward, and lift your arms up shoulder-width apart.
  5. Keep your shoulders relaxed in their sockets and rotate the outer edges of your arms inward to broaden your upper back.
  6. Draw your gaze upward.

4. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Śvānāsana)

  1. From Utkatasana, hinge forward and place your hands down on the ground, beside your feet.
  2. Walk both feet back.
  3. Keep your hips lifted and straighten your legs as best you can.
  4. Push into your palms and fingers to draw more energy into your lower body to help elevate your pelvis.
  5. Stretch out all ten fingers, whilst pushing down primarily between the index knuckle and thumb.
  6. Keep your arms straight and rotate your outer upper arms inward to broaden your back.
  7. Draw the front of your rib cage in and press your legs back, lengthening behind your knees.
  8. Extend your heels away from your toes and pull them toward the floor.
  9. Move your sitz bones towards the opposite corner of the room.

5. Crescent Pose (Añjaneyāsana)

  1. From Downward Facing Dog, bring your right foot forward in between your hands. Keep a bend in your right knee to a 90-degree angle.
  2. Keep both feet hip-width apart, with your weight resting on the heel of your front foot and on the ball of your back foot.
  3. Engage your lower belly to extend your lower back and raise your arms straight over your head, keeping them shoulder-width apart.
  4. Rotate your upper arms inward to broaden your upper back, and lift your gaze upward.
  5. If you can keep your shoulders from flaring outward and your arms straight, bring your palms together.
  6. Repeat on the opposite side.

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6. Side Angle (Pārśvakonāsana)

  1. From Anjaneyasana, spin and plant the left heel down.  
  2. Rotate your torso so it’s directly over your neutral pelvis.
  3. Extend your entire left side over your forward leg as you place the fingertips of your left hand on the floor to the outside of your front leg.
  4. Reach up with your right arm and rotate your palm forward. Extend your arm overhead to form a straight line with your back leg, rolling the outer side of your arm in toward your body to relax your shoulder.
  5. Keep your chest open.
  6. Repeat on the opposite side.
Image Credit: Patrick Gensel on Flickr.
Image Credit: Patrick Gensel on Flickr.

7. Tree Pose (Vrksāsana)

  1. Begin in Tadāsana. Starting on the right side, lift your right foot, bend your knee, and grab your inner ankle with your right hand.
  2. Bring the sole of your right foot to your left inner upper inner thigh. Press your foot into your thigh and your thigh into your foot.
  3. Engage your core and extend your arms upward, shoulder-width apart, with your arms straight and their outer edges rotated inward to broaden your upper back.
  4. Draw your gaze upwards to challenge your balance.
  5. Repeat on the opposite side.

8. Wide-Angle Seated Forward Bend (Upavistha Konāsana)

  1. Begin seated, with your legs open wide in a V shape.
  2. Flex your feet so that your knees and toes point straight up.
  3. Keep your pelvis rooted to the floor. Inhale and lengthen your spine.
  4. Exhale, keep your spine long, and walk your hands along your legs without rounding your back.
  5. Grab hold of your big toes and fold forward.

9. Head to Knee Pose (Jānu Sīrsāsana)

  1. Begin seated, with your left leg straight and your right knee bent.
  2. Bring the sole of your right foot to rest against your left inner upper thigh. Inhale and extend your spine (or you can also find your way into a twist from here).
  3. Exhale, spin your chest over your left knee, and grab the outer edge of your left foot, or clasp your right wrist with your left hand.
  4. Inhale and extend your spine again.
  5. Exhale and fold your torso over your straight leg, bending your elbows wide and relaxing the base of your neck.
  6. Repeat on the other side.
Image Credit: Abraham Morales on Flickr.
Image Credit: Abraham Morales on Flickr.

10. Corpse Pose (Śavāsana)

  1. Lay on your back and lift your pelvis, pushing your tailbone away so as to allow your lower back to spread and stretch out. There should be a subtle arch in your lower back and your pelvis should be in contact with the mat.
  2. Open your legs hip width apart and allow them to naturally drop slightly outward. Bring your shoulders away from your neck to release any tension around this area and bring your arms to rest along the line of your torso but slightly away – around a 45 degree angle.
  3. Begin to slowly inhale and with each exhale allow your body to sink further into the mat, each limb to soften and yield to the calmness that radiates outward from the mind. Relax and soften your eyes, lips, jaw and forehead.
  4. Stay aware of what is happening in your mind and body without focusing on anything in particular and relax like this for anything between 5 and 20 minutes.
  5. Once you are ready to sit up, hug your knees into chest and rock side to side in a gentle, subtle movement. Finish by rolling over to the right and gently bringing yourself up to sitting. You may want to stay sitting for another few moments to re-center yourself here and notice the differences in your body and mindset.

Slowly come back to reality and continue your day with calm and ease. Let the craziness slide right off and enjoy the magic of Christmas! Practice this every day or whenever you are feeling overwhelmed to help you get back to your center.

What did you think of this flow? What are your go to poses for a quick yoga flow? I’d love to hear about it! Have a wonderful holiday season!

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