9 Fast Ways to Holiday Energy & Serenity

Handbook

You schlep, shovel, and shoulder all the season's stressors—no wonder you feel as if Santa's reindeer ran you over. Try these (totally beginner) yoga moves, and say "aah."


By Betsy Stephens
Photos by Raymond Hom
THE RX FOR…

Tense Shoulders

If you could deck the halls with your endless to-do list, your body is probably wound extra tight. Your fix: gentle movements that help the neck and shoulder muscles decompress.

TRY IT

Start by exhaling and dropping your chin toward your chest. Inhale and roll your right ear to your right shoulder, as shown; repeat to the left. Do 5 reps on each side. Next, inhale deeply as you draw your shoulders up to your ears as much as possible, then exhale and quickly drop your shoulders down.

THE RX FOR…

An Achy, Breaky Back

As you twist to one side, the muscles on the other side of your back release, says Ricardo Colberg, M.D., of Andrews Sports Medicine and Orthopaedic Center in Birmingham, AL.

TRY IT

Lie on your back with your arms extended out to your sides; bring your right knee across your body and let it drop toward the floor, as shown. Turn your head to the right. Breathe, and relax for a minute. Switch sides.

THE RX FOR…

A Rotten Mood

Not feeling so merry? Do a mini back bend. It helps stimulate the vagus nerve at the base of the brain; that can trigger the release of feel-good hormones, says Fiona Gupta, M.D., a neurologist at Hackensack University Medical Center.

TRY IT

Start from a kneeling position (you can use a folded towel under your knees for cushioning). Then put your hands on your backside, as if inside a pair of imaginary jeans pockets, with fingers pointing toward the floor. Exhale and begin to lean back slightly. Stretch your chest toward the ceiling, using your hands to help stabilize your back as you keep your belly tight.

THE RX FOR…

Had a Little Too Much Fun

There's no proven hangover cure, but twists are thought to stimulate the liver and kidneys, which help rid the body of toxins, explains Sara Gottfried, M.D., a teacher at the University of California.

TRY IT

Sit with your legs extended. Bend your right knee and place your right palm on the floor behind you, as shown. Reach your left fingertips toward the ceiling and turn toward the right, looking over your shoulder. Next, bend your left arm and hook your elbow on the outside of your right knee. Take 10 breaths; switch sides.

THE RX FOR…

Too Stressed to Sleep

A forward bend can have calming effects—you literally close the world out and focus in on yourself, as if you were entering a cocoon, says physical therapist Joanne Cesiro, a clinical assistant professor at Stony Brook University. Do this "resting" Pigeon Pose before bed.

TRY IT

Begin on your hands and knees. Bring your right leg forward and place your right knee on the floor in front of you, as shown. Slide left leg back, then lower forehead toward the floor. Hold for 10 breaths; switch sides.

THE RX FOR…

Tired Eyes

Eyestrain happens when you spend a lot of time looking at something up close; you lock your eyes into habitual patterns. Online shopping and ticking deadlines can bring it on. Even your eye muscles could use yoga!

TRY IT

Without moving your head, gaze straight up toward the ceiling. Slowly circle your eyes in a clockwise direction, making as large a circle as possible. Repeat 3 times, then close your eyes and relax for 3 breaths. Repeat, rolling your eyes in the opposite direction.

THE RX FOR…

Belly Bloat

When you're feeling that second helping of stuffing and you never want to see another sugar cookie, you'll be glad to get into a position that helps relax and stretch the intestines. If squatting feels too hard, do the easier variation.

TRY IT

Stand with your feet shoulder distance apart, and keep your toes and heels grounded as you exhale; bend your knees, and slowly lower into a squat position. Bring your palms together and rest your arms against your inner knees, as shown, then relax your shoulders. You can also sit on firm pillows or books for support. Hold for 10 breaths.

THE RX FOR…

An Energy Slump

If you're spreading yourself thinner than a snowflake, plug into this power source. Chair Pose flexes the major muscle groups in your legs and core; activating them can release feel-good endorphins.

TRY IT

Stand with your feet together, and bend your knees deeply as if sitting in a chair. Reach your fingers toward the ceiling, squeeze your arms by your ears, and take up to 10 deep breaths. Hold the pose longer if you can.

THE RX FOR…

SAD (Seasonal Angry-Woman Disorder)

Your breath is your friend in hard-to-handle moments. When you need superhuman strength to face an overstuffed day, one of the best things you can do is sit still for a minute or two. Bonus relaxation points if you do this with the lights dim, sitting on a cushion.

TRY IT

Place the palms of your hands together and bring your thumbs to the center of your chest. Then, just breathe: Inhale and exhale slowly, and think of what you're grateful for and what's working—not what isn't—in your life.

Note: Always ask a health care professional about your specific medical needs before beginning an exercise program.


Styling by Argy Koutsothanasis. Hair and makeup by Allison Brooke. Prop styling by Christina Lane. Hard Tail T-shirt and Sports Bra; Athleta Leggings