Its beginning to look a lot like Christmas. . .Love, joy and peace are being echoed throughout the city in the music, stores and decorations. Meanwhile, full schedules, holiday preparations and changing temperatures are filling the body with stress, fatigue and illness.What is a girl to do?
The answer is always yoga! **Full disclosure, this is sometimes accompanied by wine. Dark chocolate. More sleep. And for some illness, medication.**
Yoga is often seen in the western culture as a work OUT. I have been discovering the powerful aspect of yoga that is rather a work IN. Yoga can be equally challenging and toning as it can be restful and rejuvenating. It can be as much for the body as it can be for mind. I strive to find that balance when I practice and when I teach. During this month I have been starting to focus a bit more on the restorative and meditative side of practice to keep my body and mind in optimal health as we move into the most wonderful time of the year.
Here are a few suggestions to help keep that balance of yin and yang, stillness and movement, rest and challenge in your yoga practice. These can be done at home, with a loved one, or perhaps in the living room with chestnuts roasting on a open fire…
Three Yoga Practices for December
1. Surya Namaskar A – Sun Salutation A with gratitude
Repeat 1-12 times, depending on energy and time restraints. Dedicate each round towards something or someone you are grateful for. This is a practice that is nourishing for the body, mind and spirit.
2. Ustrasana – Camel Pose with Lion’s Breath
Kneeling tall with femurs lined up under hips, bring hands to small of back with fingers pointed down. Exhale, engage core, slightly squeeze inner thighs together and start to lift the heart up towards the sky. Inhale, allow the spine to lengthen up and back, bringing the bridge of nose parallel to the ceiling or letting the head drop back opening the throat. Hold pose for 5 breaths. Exhale fully each time and open the mouth perhaps doing a Lion’s breath while fully sticking the tongue out. Imagine negativity in any form–thoughts, illness, stress– leaving the body with the breath from the back of the throat. Sit back on heels after the pose, close eyes and turn attention inward. It is common to feel a little buzzing in the spine or head. Let this feeling subside before opening eyes and moving to the next posture.
3. Supported Supta Baddah Konasana – Supported Reclined Bound Angle Pose with mediation
Hold this pose for 3-10 minutes. Entering the pose, focus on softening the heart center, allowing the breath to move freely and easily and give the body permission to relax. Be sure the blocks are arranged under the head and between the shoulder blades so there is no pinching in the spine. Prop the head up higher than the heart. If the hip joints feel over stretched, prop them up on blocks, blankets or pillows. The pose should feel comfortable. This is a very restorative pose for calming the nervous system. Once the body has arrived in the shape, commit it to stillness for any amount of time desired. Maybe put a favorite relaxing song ( I recommend George Winston’s December album) while holding the pose, repeat a mantra such as “I am Enough” or do a simple mediation in the silence just following the breath in and out.
Joy to the World, Peace, Love & Namaste,
Kristin (& Luna)