In grade school, all of my friends’ birthdays seemed to land in October and November. My birthday is November 5th, so I had to be careful to try and plan my birthday party on a weekend with no other parties. Most kids could only go to one party a weekend and no one wanted to have to choose to go to Tracey or Jessica’s party. Now, as an adult I still feel like October, November and December are overfilled months full of commitments, events, parties and family get togethers.
I became a yoga instructor in my early 20’s when I had a job in commercial real estate and had plenty of time to myself in the evenings. I signed up for the evening program; it was two nights a week for 6 months. Originally I thought I would just teach yoga at a fancy gym for fun … little did I know I would learn life-long techniques to help me slow down, relax and be present.
Anyone who knew me growing up probably never thought of me as a yoga instructor! I can be pretty loud, I love parties, and sometimes I’m maybe even a bit obnoxious.
So, in an effort to help you unwind and achieve some holiday relaxation this year, here are some tried and true tips from the yogi in me!
Legs up the wall pose – Viparita Karani
This posture is best done as a restorative pose (restorative postures are postures that you don’t need to put effort into – the props and earth should support your body fully). I suggest 5-12 minutes. Make sure you stay in the posture over 2 minutes. For the first 2 minutes you will want to stop immediately, but after 2 minute mark, your body and mind should relax.
You don’t need to use any props, but if your hips are little higher, I think you can achieve a deeper relaxation. The two prop options are a bolster and a yoga blanket. I prefer the bolster because folding the blanket can get a little annoying under your hips (you can feel the creases). Here are links to good options for a bolster and yoga blanket.
Bonus – kids like this pose too! My girls will sometimes see me in this posture and join me at the wall. The posture promotes restfulness and sleep. If you are too tired, you can even do this in bed, legs up against the headboard.
This posture will calm your mind, allow you to slow down your racing thoughts and set aside that never ending to-do list. I call this the most potent yoga posture I’ve ever practiced. I love opening my hips in an active practice, but in comparison, this is yoga for your mind.
Forward folds (with the bolster)
Forward folds are cooling and calming. The action of your head resting promotes your body’s relax response to kick in. It could be a simple seated forward fold, child’s pose, or butterfly. My second favorite restorative posture is a straddle lying on the bolster. But, you could do any forward fold that allows you to get your forehead and hairline to the bolster.
I’ll leave you with one last great resource: Judith Lasater is a great teacher for restorative yoga – here’s her book!