How to r-e-l-a-x during the festive season!

By Charlotte Dodson
Photography | atdusk
Wearing | Bloch
Charlotte_Dodson-240-1024x682The sun is shining brightly these days – a sure indication that your summer holiday break is just around the corner! It’s time to start winding down, lighten your load (possibly by shedding a few unwanted pounds), and get ready to relax for your whole Christmas break – looking and feeling in tip-top shape.

Yoga will help you to loosen up those hips (creating lightness and more movement), strengthen your body, and become more limber on all levels. We tend to hold emotions in our largest joint, the hip joint, and so for the sake of our ability to move ‘freely’, it’s best to let go of whatever negative emotion you are holding onto – as you open to yourself and relax into every day with purpose, please ensure that you make the most of it! After all, life is here to be cherished – you never know what will happen next!

Follow this next sequence in this particular order, working one side first, i.e. right leg, and then repeat the whole sequence on your left side. Remember to breathe deeply and mindfully through your nostrils (to keep your body warm), with lips closed. Always have your chin tucked into your throat, and remember to keep your belly strong and ‘active’.

Pigeon pose
Pigeon pose is one of the best ways to release your hips and take pressure out of your knees joints. Our hips are the biggest joint in the body, so we can carry a lot of our tension or negative emotion in our hips. The best way to free up this tension is to allow your breath to release any tightness. With your legs out in front of you, bend your right leg with your foot close to your left thigh. Lift your body to ensure your hips are square to the top of the mat. Keeping your back leg straight and working towards the back of the mat, slowly reach your arms out in front as you lay gently over your bent leg. The more open you become, the more your bent leg can open further away from you. Hold and breathe deeply for 10 breaths – 1 minute. Repeat to the other side for the same length of time.

Cobbler pose (Baddha Konasana)

Charlotte_Dodson-227This pose stretches your inner thighs, groin, and knees. As you open your hips, you’ll feel less pressure in your knees.
From pigeon pose (above), swing your back leg forward to the top of your mat. Keep your spine upright and your chin tucked into your throat, keeping your neck long. Breathe naturally and easily. Bend both knees outwards and bring the soles of your feet together, placing them up to your crotch area. Allow your thumbs (inside of soles) and fingers (outside of feet) to open your feet like a book. Keep your elbows gently tucked into your side waist. Try not let your heels lift off the floor. Keep your torso elongated as you slowly pivot from your hips and gently lengthen forward (without collapsing your chest). As you remain focused on the hip joints and the waist area, keep your inner thighs relaxed. Hold and breathe deeply for 5-10 breaths. Let your inhale bring you back up to a neutral position.

Jump up into Warrior 1
Charlotte_Dodson-249As the saying goes, you’ve got to strive for what you want! This pose will work all those leg muscles you forgot you had! Please remember to breathe deeply, and avoid holding your breath. It can be a challenging posture, especially if you hold it for longer than 5 breaths.

These standing and strengthening poses give you the determination and edge to go for what your heart truly desires. As you hold these poses and control your breathing, remind yourself to always follow your dreams and bring them to reality!

From ‘baddha konasana’, swing your left leg back to the back of the mat. Tuck your back toes under; press your fingers firmly into the floor, and let your next inhale spring you up with your right foot grounding down in between your hands. Keep your back toes solidly pressing down and facing forward (heel is lifting). Keep your hips square to the top of the mat with your back leg straight and front knee bent. Slowly inhale to raise your arms up overhead with palms touching, shoulders down. Gaze to one point to help with your balance. Breathe deeply for 5-10 breaths or more.

Wide child pose

Soothe your body as your fold forward into ‘child pose’ (balasana). From Warrior 1, press your hands each side of your front foot, and step back your front foot back to join your back leg. Bring your big toes to touch, draw your knees out wide, and sit heavily onto your heels, lengthening your arms out in front of you. As you walk forward with your hands, fold your belly over your legs, and rest your forehead onto the ground. As you sit heavily onto your heels you’ll lengthen and create more openness into your spine. Breathe deeply into this gentle pose to soothe and soften your inner and outer self for 10 breaths (hold for longer if you need more of a rest).

Savasana

Charlotte_Dodson-450-1024x682It’s time to focus on being relaxed. Savasana really allows all of your muscles to soften, unwind and absorb your practice, as well as calming your mind. Lay on your back, rolling your palms upward, and allow your feet to naturally fall out to the side. Feel your whole back, your whole body, surrender into the ground. Cover your body and eyes to retain the inward focus , and lose yourself into your breath. Breathe deeply in this pose for about 5-10 minutes. This pose will allow you to be fully focused, limber and determined…filled with strength and lightness – with all the revitalizing energy you’ll need to make the most of your Christmas holiday time out.

After savasana, roll out to the right side and come up into a cross legged sit. Take a few quiet moments with your hands folded in prayer, eyes closed – be grateful for all that you have, and all that you are. Happy holidays! Namaste.

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