The holidays are generally a festive and joyous time, but it's no secret that they can be stressful. Dealing with busier-than-normal travel, planning and/or attending parties, and coordinating with family—on top of potentially added pressure at work to finish projects up before the end of the year—and it's no wonder that we can find ourselves overwhelmed and frazzled.

Luckily, we have a secret weapon to help us handle all that stress: yoga. Regular yoga practice has been shown to decrease cortisol and adrenaline, which contribute to feelings of stress. While you need to practice consistently to reap the most benefits, carving out time for any amount of yoga can help you feel more relaxed this holiday season ... especially if you incorporate poses to help reduce tension and anxiety into your practice.


Here are six stress-busting poses you may consider including in your practice. As always, listen to your own body and practice within your own limits, and be sure to warm up with some sun salutations or even a few jumping jacks before beginning to practice.

Sukhasana (Easy Seated Pose)

Sometimes simply remaining still is the thing we need most. While in Sukhasana, allow your mind to still and concentrate on steadying your breathing. If you're familiar with Nadi shodhana pranayama (alternate nostril breathing), consider adding it on here.

Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Forward bends like Uttanasana increase exhalation, which helps us relax. The forward bending motion also subtly turns our attention inward, helping to center us and calm overactive brains.

Gomukhasana (Cow Face Pose)

As a chest-opener, Gomukhasana can help alleviate stress and anxiety by allowing more oxgyen into our lungs. The pose also stretches our shoulders, where many of us hold tension. If you find your shoulders too tight to comfortably practice Gomukhasana, reach for a strap.

Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)

Like Gomukhasana, Bhujangasana is a chest-opener. Similarly, it helps open the shoulders and alleviate tension that you may be carrying in them.

Balasana (Child's Pose)

Balasana is a great pose for when you need a break—from more challenging poses, or from life. This relaxing pose calms the brain, while also helping relieve shoulder and neck stiffness. 

Viparita Karani (Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose)

Legs-Up-the-Wall is a favorite restorative pose for reason. As a mild inversion, it boosts blood circulation, and it calms the mind and relieves stress and anxiety.

Come join us at the studio to practice away some of your seasonal stress! Many of our classes incorporate one or more of the poses listed above, and there's a dedicated Restorative Yoga class on Fridays at 5:15 pm! Another great option is the upcoming Yoga Nidra workshop, which will be led by Hari-kirtana das on December 16!

What other poses do you find to be the most calming? Let us know in the comments!

Image source: Photo by Tim Goedhart on Unsplash