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January 13, 2015

Om for the Holidays: 15-Minute Sequence for Holiday Stress

Yoga for Holiday Stress

It’s December.

Visions of sugarplums have instead become realities of missed flights and scrambling for last-minute gifts.

Your yoga routine has taken a backseat to holiday parties and family gatherings. You don’t know if you’ll be able to survive until the New Year! And you’re worried that when you do get back on your mat, you’ll have regressed back to the flexibility of a candy cane. Have no fear: You will get back on your mat, and you will still be bendy. In the meantime, when you find a spare minute, here is a quick 5-pose sequence you can do at home to relieve stress and get right back in the holiday spirit.

1. Child’s pose (Balasana)

Benefits: Child’s pose naturally calms the nervous system while stretching the back—a common place to hold tension.

Step by Step: From all fours, lower the shins down, and shift your hips back to rest over your heels and the tops of your feet. Extend your arms forward with palms facing down, and allow your forehead to rest on the mat. Let your chest soften over your legs and relax. Stay here for up to a minute, seeing if you can count to five on each inhale and exhale.

Variation: Make fists with your hands with the thumb side pointing up. Stack your right fist on top of your left fist, and then rest your forehead on the top of the right fist. Your forehead should be resting on the thumb and index-finger side of your right hand.

2. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

Benefits: Forward bends are stress relievers, especially when the knees are slightly bent. The head hangs below the heart and reverses blood flow for a euphoric feeling.

Step by Step: Starting in Tadasana, extend the arms up and fold forward. Bend the knees and let the chest hang over the legs. Hands can reach down towards the floor or rest on your shins.  Stay here for up to a minute, counting to five for each inhale and exhale.

3. Triangle pose (Trikonasana)

Benefits: This grounded pose aids in digestion and is said to help reduce anxiety.

Step by Step: Start standing in Tadasana. Step your right foot forward, three to four feet in front of your left, and extend your arms out to the sides with palms facing down. Straighten your right leg and extend your right arm forward, creating length through the torso. Let the right hand land down on the mat, below the right knee, and extend the left arm upwards. Anchor down through the left foot, while opening the torso to the left. Stay here for 5–10 breaths; then come up to standing and repeat on the left side.

4. Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)

Benefits: This passive pose is a wonderful stress reliever, especially if you place a small towel or eye pillow over the eyes. It is thought to reverse aging (score!) and relieves stress by reversing gravity on the legs, giving your heart a break from pumping so hard.

Step by Step: The name of this one says it all—lying on your back with your legs up the wall. Lay here for up to five minutes with your eyes closed.

5. Corpse pose (Savasana)

Benefits: Savasana triggers the body’s relaxation response, calming the nervous system and lowering blood pressure, which is why this is the ultimate holiday de-stressor.

Step by Step: Start by laying flat on your back. Extend your arms long by your sides with your hands next to your hips and your palms facing upwards. Widen your feet slightly more than hip-width distance, and allow your toes to angle outwards. Alternatively, if your lower back bothers you, place a pillow underneath your knees to reduce any pressure. Cover your eyes with a small towel or eye pillow. Stay here for five minutes, ideally with no distractions. Slowly rise from Savasana into a seated position, taking a few breaths to center yourself. Then venture back out into the world with a renewed sense of well-being and holiday cheer.

Amy Dannheim
Amy Dannheim
A creative leader in the Miami yoga community, Amy Dannheim is passionate about yoga, plant-based recipes and healthy living. With her degree in journalism from the University of Florida, Amy is a yoga writer and blogger as well as the co-host for Radio 1Om8, a weekly live yoga radio show. After years of working with lululemon, Amy established herself as the go-to person for yoga consulting in Miami, with her finger on the pulse of the yoga community. When she’s not strategizing or cooking, Amy teaches dynamic vinyasa yoga classes that are layered with hip-hop and spirituality, drawing inspiration from her frequent travels. Amy sits on the Green Monkey Yoga teacher training faculty and leads regular workshops and innovative events throughout South Florida. Amy is also a VitaCoco and Funky Yoga ambassador and has appeared on the pages of Wall Street Journal, on and She lives in Miami Beach with her husband and fellow yogi, Mike, where they run their bike centric community & clothing company Purdy Ave. Follow her blog at or find her adventures on Instagram @miamy.

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