Does holiday shopping stress you out?
Do certain family members raise your blood pressure? Bellevue Club yoga instructor Tamara Weiss created the following vinyasa sequence to help you get through the busy season in peace. Designed to increase focus, patience, balance and serenity, Tamara suggests holding each pose for five deep breaths (or about 30 seconds). Enter into the sequence on the right leg and then repeat on the left. Also be sure to adequately warm up before attempting the series.
Getting Your Gaze Point
Drishti (gaze point) is a single, unmoving point of concentration. Because wandering eyes can often cause distraction, the purpose of choosing one visual point is to strengthen focus and balance. Some practitioners use the point of their nose, but picking any point on the floor or wall in front of you will achieve the same thing.
Exercise 1: Lunge Pose
Strengthens the hips, quads and hamstrings. Stretches hip flexors and abdomen.
Start standing with feet hip width. Step back on the right foot and raise your arms forward and up. Keeping your gaze on the fingertips, lower your hands down to chest height with your arms straight and palms pressed together. With your hips square, engage your core and keep the tailbone tucked. Hold for five breaths, with your drishti on your fingertips.
Exercise 2: Airplane Pose
Strengthens back, abdominals, hamstrings and hips. Stretches hamstrings.
From the lunge, lift the right foot and hinge at the hips, bringing the chest forward to create a flat back. Stretch the arms backward. Engage the core, glutes and outer hip of the standing leg to keep your right leg lifted to the same height as your shoulders and head. Keep you shoulder blades away from the ears and hugging toward each other. Keep the drishti in front of you.
Exercise 3: Eagle Pose
Strengthens quads, calves, ankles and glutes. Stretches rhomboids, posterior deltoids, hips and calves.
From airplane, bring your right foot forward. Bend the knees slightly, keeping your chest lifted. Wrap your right leg over your left thigh and press the calf with your foot. Cross your left arm over your right, and wrap them so your palms touch. Press elbows up and forward. Drishti is focused on the forearms or beyond.
Exercise 4: Standing Splits (One-Legged Forward Bend)
Strengthens lower back, core, hamstrings and hip abductors. Stretches hamstrings.
Unfold eagle back into airplane, then hinge at your hips and lower your chest forward. Bring the back leg up to hip height, engaging the glutes, and place your fingertips on the floor with your chest raised and abdominals tucked. Keep drishti forward.
Exercise 5: Hovering Cow Face with Eagle Arms
Improves hip flexibility. Strengthens arms and core. Stretches hips and lower back.
From standing splits, cross the raised leg behind the standing leg, with both knees bent. Sit hips backward, and hover off the floor. Press hands to the floor to engage your core and upper body. Keep your gaze forward.
To exit the pose, uncross the legs and return your feet hip distance apart, keeping fingertips on the floor. Then return to standing with hands together at your chest. Pause for five breaths, then repeat sequence on the other leg.