yoga teacher trainingBy Sangeetha Saran

No matter which holidays you celebrate, enjoying them means spending time with family and friends, rich foods and late nights. All of these lead to stress, feeling out of shape and out of sorts. This year, try some Yoga for the holidays, and leave that eggnog for later.

Before a meal that is larger than usual, take a brisk walk outside. Then move into a quiet room, take some deep, cleansing breaths and move into several asanas known for improving digestion:

Matsyasana, or Fish Pose

Bhujang Asana, or Cobra pose

Marichyasana Variation, or Bent Elbow Spinal Twist

Dhanurasana, or Bow Pose

You’re at the dinner table, and your uncle is once again sharing his views on your lifestyle, politics and who should learn to drive these days. Instead of encouraging him to do a forward bend into his dinner plate, try some finger mudras under the table. Pushan, or the Acceptance mudra, is said to be good for anger management and digestion, so it’s perfect for dinner parties. To do this mudra, touch the tops of your pointer finger and middle finger to the top of your thumb on your right hand. On your left hand, touch your middle and ring fingers to the thumb.

It is said to have a relaxing effect on the stomach area in general. The Chin Mudra is done with the back straight. The pointer finger and thumb touch on both hands, with the other three fingers pointing straight up, as in a ‘OK’ sign. This mudra reduces stress and controls belching. Long, smooth, and deep pranayam techniques also help while practicing the above mentioned mudras. Paulji often recommends a subtle form of Dirgha pranayama when we are in public places.

If sleeping on the guest bed has given you back pain and stiffness, a quick morning practice should make you ready to spread holiday cheer. Some excellent asanas for back pain include:

Adho Mukha Svanasana, or Downward-Facing Dog

Salabhasana, or Locust Pose

Setu Bandha Sarvangasana, or Bridge Pose

Try to maintain your regular practice, even if you’re traveling and busy with obligations. The better able you to are to keep to your schedule, the gentler the transition after the holidays. Taking time for yourself and your spirit will give you patience with the crowds and traffic, and in the end, it’s a gift to everyone around you.

© Copyright 2011 – Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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