restorative holiday yoga poseBy: Virginia Iversen, M.Ed.

How can you teaching balancing holiday Yoga classes? Once again, the holiday season is upon us. Many homes are now displaying brightly colored Christmas lights and glowing Menorahs in honor of the holiday season. At this time of the year, many Yoga practitioners find themselves challenged to maintain their practice, as the festivities of the holiday season begin to pick up more and more speed. Additionally, many Yoga students and teachers travel, in order to spend the holidays with their family and friends. You may find that the intense pace of the holiday season may leave both you and your Yoga students feeling depleted and off center.

If you find that your students are feeling stressed and overwhelmed during the holidays, there are a number of ways that you can tailor your Yoga classes, in order to promote balance and relieve the stress of this busy season. By incorporating a number of balancing postures into your own personal practice, as well as into your Yoga classes, you will help to nurture a sense of clarity, well being and balance. Balancing postures help to ground and soothe an anxious mind, as well as physically improve one’s ability to focus on one task at a time.

The simple act of mentally focusing on balancing in a Yoga posture for five full breaths will quite naturally calm down an overactive nervous system and encourage the simplicity of being mindfully present in the moment. This mindful presence, in and off itself, is quite balancing and grounding. There are wide ranges of balancing postures that can easily be integrated into a comprehensive multi-level class. A few of the most well loved balancing Yoga poses that most students can comfortably perform are Tree Pose, Modified Crow Pose and the Warrior Series.

If you are teaching a group of Yoga students who need a modified class, such as students who are recovering from injuries or older students, many of these balancing Yoga postures can safely be practiced with the support of a chair. In the case of Modified Crow Pose, you may find that placing one or two folded blankets on the mat for those students who are nervous about tipping over will provide ample cushioning for them, while they are fine tuning their balance in the posture.

Ananda Balasana or Happy Baby’s Pose

Ananda Balasana is a wonderful hip-opening posture that is accessible to most Yoga students. In Sanskrit, the term “ananda” means the bliss of the absolute. This bliss is said to pulsate in the very depths of our own hearts. The image of a baby grasping his or her own toes in absolute delight is the energetic essence of this expanding posture. When Ananda Balasana, or Happy Baby’s Pose, is practiced in a seated position, it also gently hones a student’s sense of balance, coordination and focus. This pose also stretches out the hips and inner groin muscles, as it aligns the spine and helps to relieve muscular tension and stress throughout the shoulders, neck and thoracic spine.

Ananda Balasana is usually practiced towards the final portion of a Yoga class, during a series of seated postures and just prior to inversions and Final Relaxation Pose. To lead your students through the practice of Seated Happy Baby’s Pose, have them come to a seated position on their Yoga mats. When they are ready, instruct them to grasp their big toes and raise their bent legs to shoulder height. Remind your students to move slowly, as they shift the weight of their body onto the center point of their tailbone.

By applying slight pressure against their hands with their feet, your students will find it easier to balance in Seated Ananda Balasana. Remind your students to keep their knees just slightly wider than their hips and in line with their shoulders. The drishti point in Seated Happy Baby’s Pose is just beyond the horizon line in front of them. Instruct your students to hold Seated Child’s Pose for five complete breaths, and then on their 5th exhale, ask them to release the pose and come back to a comfortable seated position on their Yoga mats.

Virginia Iversen, M.Ed, has been practicing and studying the art of Yoga for over twenty years. She lives in Woodstock, New York, where she works as a writer and an academic support specialist. She is currently accepting Yoga and health-related writing orders and may be contacted at:

© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division

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