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9 Yoga poses to help with holiday stress

Maggie Giuffrida is a graduate of The University of Arizona where she earned a degree in journalism. She is a contributing writer for SheKnows, specializing in health and fitness. Maggie is a certified yoga instructor and health and well...

Yoga moves to do when you feel like a scrooge

The holiday season is certainly full of joy and cheer, but between all the shopping, planning, cooking and prepping, it can also be a super stressful time of the year...

It's hard to not get a little caught up in all the hustle and bustle that accompanies the holidays, but it's just as important to remember to be present, as it is to give and receive presents.

"A lot of times during this time of year, people are marking things off their to-do lists, planning, preparing and spending a lot of time 'ahead' of where they are at the moment," said Yoga2Life coach and Fabletics master Ashley Corlis. "Take some time to really notice what you are doing right now. When we spend more time focusing on what we are doing in the moment, not only are we more productive because we are engaged in what we are doing, but we are also less stressed because our energy is focused at a single object."

One way Corlis recommends to relax and be present is through — you guessed it — practicing yoga.

"Yoga helps us activate our parasympathetic nervous system, or 'rest and digest,' which is our relaxation response," she says. "If you are operating at more of a 'fight or flight' mentality, like most of us are in today's busy, multi-tasking world, then finding time to learn how to unwind is key — yoga can help you do this."

Yoga moves to do when you feel like a scrooge
Image: Terese Condella/SheKnows, Image provided by Maggie Giuffrida/SheKnows

Corlis suggests taking yoga classes two to three times per week at your local studio. But if that's just not a realistic option, you can also set up a home practice where you can work on a few yoga poses per day, or try a short 30-minute online yoga class a few times per week from sites like My Yoga Works or Cody.

"Spending that hour on yourself in an environment free of distraction is not only a way to take care of yourself, but also allows you to be a more gracious and caring person to those around you," Corlis says. "Self-care is so important during the holidays."

So, if holiday stress has you feeling like a scrooge, just roll out your mat and bust out these nine yoga moves.

1. Seated Spinal Twist

Yoga moves to do when you feel like a scrooge
Image: Maggie Giuffrida/SheKnows

"Twists help open the back, relieve shoulder tension and help detoxify the body by gently ringing out the internal organs," Corlis says.

2. Cat/Cow Pose

Yoga moves to do when you feel like a scrooge
Image: Maggie Giuffrida/SheKnows

"These poses are a great way to lengthen and stretch the spine," Corlis notes. "Especially after long hours of sitting or walking, the back can get stiff. This combo of poses will ease back soreness."

3. Extended Puppy Pose

Yoga moves to do when you feel like a scrooge
Image: Maggie Giuffrida/SheKnows

This pose is the perfect combo of Downward-Facing Dog and Child's Pose — and it comes with equally good benefits! Not only does it help stretch the spine, shoulders, upper back and arms, but it's also a great way to release tension in the shoulders and back. It's therapeutic for stress and anxiety, as well as chronic tension and insomnia.

4. High Lunge

Yoga moves to do when you feel like a scrooge
Image: Maggie Giuffrida/SheKnows

Playful yoga poses, such as high lunge, can help to relieve mild depression through rejuvenating the body. The slight backbend, as seen in the photo above, is proven to help release endorphins.

5. Warrior II

Yoga moves to do when you feel like a scrooge
Image: Maggie Giuffrida/SheKnows

Warrior II pose strengthens and stretches the legs and ankles while increasing stamina and releasing stress and tension.

6. Goddess Pose

Yoga moves to do when you feel like a scrooge
Image: Maggie Giuffrida/SheKnows

Goddess pose does just that — makes you feel like a goddess! This pose not only warms up and energizes the entire body, but it also helps build outer, as well as inner, strength.

7. Camel Pose

Yoga moves to do when you feel like a scrooge
Image: Maggie Giuffrida/SheKnows

All backbends are known for being energizing. Camel Pose specifically helps to relieve anxiety while stretching the chest and shoulders, allowing the heart to open more and boosting happiness.

8. Head-to-Knee Forward Bend

Yoga moves to do when you feel like a scrooge
Image: Maggie Giuffrida/SheKnows

Head-to-Knee Pose comes with many benefits, including calming the brain, improving digestion and relieving mild depression, anxiety, fatigue, headaches and menstrual discomfort.

9. Reclined Cobbler's Pose

Yoga moves to do when you feel like a scrooge
Image: Maggie Giuffrida/SheKnows

"This restorative pose helps open the hips as well as open the chest and shoulders," says Corlis. "Often times when we feel stressed, our shoulders feel tight because we are 'carrying the weight of the world.' This pose gives us time to unload all of the things we may be 'carrying.' This pose is also extremely helpful in aiding digestion."

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