It can be tough to devote time to a full yoga class or rejuvenating barre session any time of year—but especially during the chaos of the holidays and the rush into the new year. The good news is, you really don’t have to spend an hour unwinding on a mat to calm and center yourself. A few minutes is all you need to clear your mind and banish stress. Use these tips from zen-loving yoga and barre instructors to get a little R&R and stay focused when your nerves feel frayed.
1. JUST BREATHE.
“I ground and center myself with a meditation practice to start my day, particularly during the stress of the busy holiday season! Yoga and meditation can be done any time, anywhere, even if you can't fit in a studio class or are traveling for the holidays. I use the stress release blend [essential oil] from Saje Natural Wellness and do four-by-four breathing: Inhale four counts, hold four counts, exhale four counts, hold four counts. It moves you from your sympathetic to parasympathetic nervous system to calm yourself on your mat or in the middle of a stressful situation.”
—Ashley Turner, MA, MFTI, founder of Yoga. Psyche. Soul.: Advanced Yoga Psychology Training
2. REACH FOR CALMING SCENTS.
“My routine yoga practice is the key to de-stressing because it moves the body and allows for deeper breathing. However, when times get really rough, I like to add grounding essential oils—like lavender and earthy scents such as vetiver and patchouli—to my wrists during practice or right before bed.
—Chelsea Jasin, senior instructor at CorePower Yoga, Denver
3. STICK TO THE PLAN.
"Consistency during the holiday rush is your best friend. I stick religiously to my workout schedule because it grounds me. It's easy to waste an hour doing something useless, so I commit to a barre class instead. That rush of endorphins gives me the energy to mail all the holiday cards, conquer the gift list, and gear up for travel.”
—Kiesha Ramey-Presner, VP of teacher development and master instructor at The Bar Method
4. KEEP A CURFEW.
“Set a jingle belling alarm for bedtime! With so much to do this time of year, it's easy to allow the hours to slip away at night—and then all of a sudden, it’s 1 a.m. For full power, sleep is a necessity.”
—Bethany Lyons, founder of Lyons Den Power Yoga in New York City
5. STRIKE A POSE—ANYWHERE.
“I do one minute of deep breathing along with a mantra. For example, on the inhale you can say 'open heart' and then say 'open mind' on the exhale. From there I do a practice with one to three sun salutations and three flowing cobras or locusts—to keep an open heart and open mind and get out of the problem thinking and into creative-solution mode. Then I end with one to three minutes lying with my legs up the wall (or office chair).”
—Heather Peterson, Chief Yoga Officer at CorePower Yoga, Orange County, California
6. LISTEN TO WHAT YOUR BODY NEEDS.
"While it's tempting to want to rest in child's pose all day, when I'm really stressed out, I know what my body most needs are heart-opening poses, poses that will get me out of my head and in tune with my body. Cobras, camels, and wheels are perfect for this. That said, my advice in general would be to listen to your own body and figure out what you specifically crave. At the end of the day, there's never any judgment around going straight for savasana!"
—Amanda Murdock, director of content and trainer for the app Aaptiv