This time of year is without a doubt my very most favorite. The air has a sudden chill which invites me to clutch to a cup of tea every second of every day. The days are short, and although the little amount of sunlight could be considered unfortunate, it's that much more time that I get to see the holiday lights glimmering in windows. It is the season of gatherings and holiday parties. We exchange gifts and my heart (and my stomach) feel so full.
It is also the season filled with magnificent rich food – you know the kind you only make once a year. For my family, we make stuffed snow peas on Christmas Eve. We carefully slice the top of each small pea pod and then stuff each one carefully with cheese. As the evening continues we line the table with a half dozen types of cheese, champagne, shrimp cocktail, crab cakes, stuffed mushrooms and more delicious treats filled with butter, cream or mayonnaise. 'Tis the season of over indulgence so we tend to "treat ourselves" past the point of satisfaction. Master teacher Baron Baptiste describes this as a "food fog" which leaves us feeling tired, bloated, and lethargic. These few poses will help combat the holiday muck and leave you feeling lighter.
Revolved Crescent Lunge
From Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot in between your thumbs. As you keep all of your toes facing twelve o'clock, pull your left heel directly on top of your left toes. On your inhale lift your hands straight up to the ceiling. On your exhale bring your hands to your heart center and twist toward the right. Hook your left elbow over your right knee. With each exhale take your top shoulder behind you and press your left rib cage underneath of you. Repeat on the left. Not only will this pose stretch any tightness you have in your chest and low back, it will be begin to rinse your liver, spleen and kidneys of toxins and tension.
Similar to Revolved Crescent Lunge this rinses the organs in your abdomen. Your kidneys and digestive organs (not to mention your thighs) will thank you for this detoxification. Moving from Chair Pose (Utkatasana) bring your hands to the center of your chest. Take a deep breath in and on the exhale twist to the right. Keep your feet and knees together and your hips squared off to the floor. On each inhale lengthen through your spine and on your exhale spin your rib cage towards the ceiling.
Come into Mountain Pose and step your left foot behind you approximately one foot with all toes facing forward. Inhale your left hand straight up to the ceiling. As you breathe out, bring your left hand down to the outside of your right foot and your reach your right arm upward. A block can be used here. It is vital to maintain a straight spine for the duration of the pose. Engage your core; this provides more access to a deep twist.
Let's face it, folks. The holiday season can also be incredibly busy. Between holiday shopping, house guests, and hours spent in the car traveling from one party to the next you might not just feel the effects of the holiday season in your abdomen but you may also experience tightness and tension in your back and shoulders from some (or a lot) holiday stress. Wheel creates an opening in your back, chest, shoulders, abdomen and hips. Lay flat on the back with your feet flat on the floor, hips-width distance apart. Plant your hands flat next your ears, finger tips facing your feet. On your inhale press your feet and hands into the ground and press your hips straight up. Be mindful of your elbows; they should be in line with you shoulder joints.
Brittany Everett is the owner of Grace & Glory Yoga in Fishtown. She completed her 200-Hour in May 2014 and has attended a number of Baptiste Trainings such as Level One, Level Two, and Art of Assisting. GGY Fishtown offers a vigorous physical practice that is adaptable for every body type. This Baptiste-inspired power yoga creates a heat that heals from the inside out.