Tis the season to eat, drink and be merry, but it is also the season to stress out over the endless holiday obligations and financial pressures of gift giving. Here at Thirsty, we do like to play hard but always want to communicate the importance of living a well balanced life.
Relax: Easy Tips for Self-Care During the Holidays
Elongate the Exhalation
Lengthening your exhales can help calm the nervous system. Think of a yawn or sigh and the resulting calm experienced by taking that extended breath. Start with a 4:6 ratio of inhale counts to exhale counts. That is, in your mind count to 4 (about 4 seconds) as you breathe in through the nose, and count to 6 (about 6 seconds) as you breath out through the mouth. You can play with different ratios, and even hold the top of the inhalation, before release that sigh an exhalation. Ahh…..
Body Scan or Guided Foot to Head, and Head to Toe Awareness Relaxation
Lay on your back and bring awareness to your body, starting with the feet. Notice the sensations of the feet. Work your way up and bring attention to the feeling of your legs on the floor, then your buttocks, lower back, mid back, upper back, shoulders, arms and hands. Guide that awareness all the way up to the crown of the head. Then scan your way down, bringing that awareness back down from the crown of the head, progressively down to the soles of your feet. It may help for you to slightly “tense and release” each area to help offload the muscular tension (i.e. scrunch up your feet then let them relax, tense up your legs then allow them to release, squeeze your butt and then let it soften, etc). This tense/release method gives you a sequential structure to keep your mind focused.
Take a minute or two to close the eyes, sit in silence and observe the emotions, thoughts and sensations that arise. Take this minute to practice not reacting— that is, if you feel an itch, can you refrain from scratching it? If your mind starts to wander, which it most likely will, simply observe the mind as “thinking” and come back to the present awareness, with nothing to do. Or maybe you simply feel your seat and connection to the ground, or perhaps you notice the touch of the air on your skin. Set a timer for 1 minute to begin, and practice increasing the time by a minute each time you practice this “time in.”
Legs Up the Wall Pose
One of my favorite yoga postures, legs up the wall pose (viparita karani, in Sanskrit), can be practiced anytime you need to “relax and put your feet up.” Simply come to an open wall (one with no furniture or wall hangings), lie on your back and swing your legs up the wall. Depending on you hip and hamstring flexibility you may want to move closer or farther from the wall. Ultimately, your legs are totally supported and your lower back will relax into the floor. Close your eyes and allow your spine to release into the support of the earth and your legs to let go into the support of the wall.
If you live in the New York City area and would like a FREE pass to experience New York Health & Racquet Club, click HERE or visit the NYHRC website https://nyhrc.com/ for more information and locations.
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