You’ve been holiday shopping all day. Your shoulders are sore from lugging tons of bags, your feet are killing you and your mind is racing with gift lists and to-do’s. Jen Kluczkowski and Chiyoko Osborne, the women behind the genius mobile yoga service Mindfresh, are here to help. “The holiday season has a tendency to put us in a flighty, scattered and frantic state,” says Jen. “The mind and body are connected, so finding balance through your body actually helps create balance in the mind.” She and Chiyoko shared how to do just that, with a grounding yoga sequence you can (subtly!) do while you wait in line. As Jen puts it, “drop the shopping bags and drop into you.” Don’t mind if we do.
Get grounded with mountain pose
Stand with your feet parallel, hip-distance apart. Shift your weight forward into the balls of your feet, and then back into the heels. Do this a few times, feeling the edges of your balance. Move your weight side to side a few times, then come to a stand still, right in the center. You should have a tangible feeling of being centered. Press down into your feet to lengthen your body as much as possible. Feel yourself growing taller as your spine elongates and the crown of your head reaches up. Engage your quadriceps, pulling up above the knee. Press down to feel a sense of lifting up. Now that you’re grounded, take this chance to do a simple breathing exercise to calm the nervous system. Take five deep inhales and exhales, breathing through the nose, and use a four-part count: inhale 2, 3, 4; exhale 2, 3, 4. Even breath creates a steady mind.
Let it go with a fold forward
Keeping the feet where they are, soften your knees and fold forward over your legs. This should feel really good after standing or walking for long periods of time. Gently reach the fingertips toward the floor, or grab a hold of opposite elbows and sway the torso from side to side. As you fold forward, focus your attention on the spine to have a deeper sensation of release in the lower back. Also bring your attention to the hamstrings and calves, sending deep breath into the places where you feel tightness. The magical combination of stretching, attention and deep breathing unwinds physical tension. Fellow shoppers may find this in-line stretch a bit strange, but it feels so good, who cares? Once you’ve spent a few moments hanging out upside down, soften your knees and roll up, with a rounded back, until you come back to standing.
Undo the shopping bag shoulder
Same drill with the feet. Take your arms behind you and interlace your fingers together so the palms of the hands face away from your body. Pull your left hand across your back until it rests on the right hip. Tilt your head over to the left side, close your eyes and take a few deep breaths to release neck and shoulder pain. Switch sides, pulling the right hand over to the left hip and tilting the head over to the right. Bring your hands back to center and release your arms alongside the body. Take a deep inhale and shrug the shoulders up towards the ears. As you exhale, let the shoulders drop back down and feel the shoulder blades drawing towards the center of the back. Do this three times. Mmmmm….
Give your back a break
Feet are still planted firmly, hip-distance apart and parallel. Take the arms up, bend the elbows and interlace your hands behind your head. Spread the elbows wide apart. Inhale, expanding the collarbone and chest, then lean back a little bit as you exhale. On the next inhale, stay right there—keep lengthening your spine, then lean back a little more on the exhale. Inhale, stay and keep lengthening the back. Exhale, lean back a little more. As you inhale, stand upright and release your arms down.
Rise up and stay balanced
Feet stay hip-distance and parallel—unless you like a challenge. If you’re up for the “advanced version,” bring the feet together to touch so inner heels and inner knees are connected. On an inhale, rise up onto the balls of the feet. Exhale and, if your feet are together, click the heels together, finding balance. Continue breathing steadily and as an option, press your palms together right at the center of the chest, which creates a deeper sense of balance and evenness. Try to bring all of your attention into your body. It’s okay if you wobble! The more you do this, the more stable you will become.