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With so many activities at this time of year—from holiday parties to shopping trips to visiting friends and relatives—it can be hard to find time to do yoga. But now is your time to do so. "Yoga relieves stress, muscle tension and mental tension," says Anita Perry, yoga instructor and author of Yogaminute. "It's all about paying attention to your breath, which helps release hidden tensions from your neck and shoulders to your jaw and hands." In other words, your stress over complicated family dynamics or gift-giving anxiety seems to suddenly become Easier to control.
Good news for people with busy schedules: While it's great to take an hour-long relaxation-themed class like yin or restorative yoga, even a few minutes can help. "Taking a minute to relax, focus on your breath, and set goals for the day will really rejuvenate your brain," says Anita. Looking for some specific actions to help you feel as much Zen as possible this time of year? These six are a good place to start:
Child's Pose: This pose helps relieve tension in your lower back and makes you feel more grounded. To do this, first get on all fours, then sit back on your feet while lowering your forehead to the ground and extending your arms in front of you.
Bunny Pose: Begin in Child's Pose with your hands reaching your feet, trying to grab your heels. At the same time, the back is arched and the head is on the ground.
Thunderbolt: From the kneeling position, sitting on the soles of the feet. Keep your spine straight and your hands on your knees. Stay still and focus on your breathing.
Standing forward: "When you lower your head below your heart, it brings oxygen and blood to your brain and helps you reduce stress," says Anita. From a standing position, bend your hips forward while stretching your torso. Reach your arms toward the floor, or, if you can't reach the floor, grab your elbows with your other hand and let them hang down.
Sideways Stand: Begin in a standing position, extending your arms overhead, palms facing each other. Grab your right wrist with your left hand, then pull your arm to the left while gently bending in the same direction. Repeat on the other side.
Satoshi: In this pose you just stand still, but it takes a lot of thinking. Put your feet under your feet so you can feel the dirt under your feet, stay good and strong through your legs, pull your navel to your spine, lift through your torso and chest, lower your shoulders, and continue your lift through the top of your head. From there, focus on your breath, moving down from the top of your head to your feet, and up in a circular motion. "The best part is that you can do this pose anywhere, even in the grocery store line, and no one knows what you're doing," Anita said.