Let's face it, family gatherings – especially ones like Christmas – can be stressful. The good news is that just five minutes of pranayama (breathing) or 30 minutes of asana (postures) can help you relax and remain calm ahead of these occasions.
The following shortened home practice has been chosen in this sequence to relax, ground and settle the central nervous system.
Bramari (Black bumblebee)
Bee breath creates a healing vibration within the body, aids sleep, promotes blood flow to the brain, and instantly relieves tension, anger and anxiety. It is a very effective breathing technique for people suffering from hypertension as it calms down the agitated mind immediately. And as it is a grounding practice, it boosts your energy without making you 'hyper'.
Sit up straight in a quiet space and keep a gentle smile on your face. Place your index fingers on the cartilage between your cheek and ear. Take a deep breath in and as you breathe out, gently press the cartilage. Keep the cartilage depressed, or press it in and out with your fingers, while making a loud humming sound like a bee. Breathe in again and continue the same pattern 6–7 times. Keep your eyes closed and observe the sensations in the body and the quietness within. You can practice the Bee pranayama 3–4 times every day.
1. Child's Pose
Begin with this pose and hold for one minute. This relaxes the spine and softens the thoughts in the mind.
2. Cat/cow pose
Start with a neutral spine. Inhale, look up, drop belly. Exhale, curl spine upwards and tuck chin into chest. Repeat for two minutes.
3. Spinal rolls
Complete six full inhales and exhales up. Chin to chest, curling spine vertebrae by vertebrae, shoulders relaxed, holding opposite elbows. Hold for 5–7 full breaths. Allow the head to be soft, the mouth and brow relaxed.
Spinal rolls help with connecting to the parasympathetic part of the body (the non-flight self). You'll experience a calming effect which prepares the body to rest efficiently.
4. Tree pose
Complete two poses on each side, holding for five breaths, grounding and balancing the mind and body.
5. Warrior I to Warrior II
Arms wide, holding for 4–8 breaths on each side. Repeat. Warrior I and Warrior II improve focus, balance and stability, and encourage good circulation and respiration.
6. Seated forward bend
Extend your torso forward over the legs, and catch the feet or ankles with your hands. Rest your forehead on the blanket and your abdomen on the bolster for three minutes.
7. Bridge pose and shoulderstand
Do three easy backbends, peeling the spine off the floor, holding for 3–5 breaths. Repeat three times. Follow with shoulderstand. Allow the posture to be steady and comfortable. Hold for 8–15 breaths.
Lie on the floor with a supported neck. Relax by tensing and relaxing muscle groups. Start with tensing the face for five seconds then letting go. Follow with the arms, hands, legs and toes. Lastly, hold the whole body tense then let go. Come into corpse pose to finish.
9. Legs up the wall
Make sure you're grounded into the earth for complete support and surrender.
Poses modelled by Martine Allars
Alex has been a yoga practitioner for almost two decades. She is also a fully qualified yoga therapist, who uses yoga to help others discover their true selves by exploring presence, authenticity and honesty in the practice of asana work, breathing and meditation. To get in touch with Alex, contact her via on 0414 638 680 or firstname.lastname@example.org