Want to recapture the childlike wonder you used to feel on Christmas morning? Back when you actually wanted to wake up before dawn? One way to get into the spirit of the season is to give yourself the gift of yoga before the festivities begin. “A merrier Christmas is so much more than great gifts,” says New York City-based yoga teacher David Romanelli, author of the upcoming book, Happy Is the New Healthy: 31 Ways to Relax, Let Go, and Enjoy Life Now! “The older we get, the harder it is to feel sustained presence. That’s what makes childhood memories so magical. There were no worries, no interruptions.”
Romanelli created this 9-pose sequence exclusively for Yoga Journal readers to do on Christmas morning or anytime this holiday season (whatever you’re celebrating). “These postures are grounding and help you slow down, take your time, and enjoy those moments that deserve to be savored.”
Start on all fours with your hands flat. Inhale, look up, and arch the back, dropping the stomach down (Cow Pose). Exhale, look down, and arch the back, pulling the stomach up (Cat Pose). Repeat for 5 breaths.
Adho Mukha Svanasana
Come into Downward-Facing Dog. Walk it out, bending the right knee first and then the left. Stay here for 5 breaths.
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Step the right foot forward, bending the knee 90 degrees. Rest your back knee on the mat. If you are less flexible, place both hands inside the right foot. If you are more flexible, rest your forearms on the ground. Stay for 5 deep breaths. Take 5 breaths in Cat-Cow, then come to the other side and repeat.
From Low Lunge, come onto the knees with your hands on your hips for a modified Ustrasana. Gently open the heart for 5 breaths.
Reclining Hero Pose
Move your feet so your big toes are touching under your bottom. The knees are a little wider than the hips. If you can go further, lean back, possibly going all the way onto your back or placing a bolster, blankets, or pillows behind you for support. Stay for 5 breaths. If this is hard on your knees, come into Child’s Pose for 5 breaths instead.
Restorative Bridge Pose
Setu Bandha Sarvangasana
Lie down on your back. Place a block directly under your sacrum. Place the highest edge of the block underneath you. Relax into a pleasant feeling of release for 1 to 3 minutes.
Happy Baby Pose
Remove the block and lie down flat on your back. Grab the inside or outside of your feet. Bend your knees as close as possible to 90 degrees. Press your sacrum into the earth. Take 5 breaths.
Casual Hip Opener
Lower your legs and bend the left knee, crossing the right ankle over it. Ground your left foot and gently press your right knee away from you to subtly open up the right hip. Remain for 1 to 3 minutes. Switch sides.
Supine Spinal Twist
Lie down flat on your back, bending the right knee in toward the chest, then twist it toward the left side of your mat. Extend your right arm to the right side. Look up, or if possible, look away toward the right side. Remain for 5 breaths. Repeat on the other side. Get ready for a wonderful, relaxing, and grounding Christmas!