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Your Yoga Prescription: How to beat holiday stress

(Photo: Tiffany Cruikshank)

Tiffany Cruikshank is the smart, cool creator of Yoga Medicine, a method that pairs yoga with holistic health practices to address the modern-life ailments that are constantly creeping up on you— like stress, insomnia, and back pain. We teamed up with her to bring you simple solutions you can really use, in this reoccurring feature. First up: Your cure for holiday stress.

For reasons that we don’t have to tell you (work! life! responsibilities!), the holiday season can be one of the most stressful times of the year, which usually translates into decreased energy when you need it the most. While our natural impulse when stressed is push through (shop! wrap! bake!), Cruikshank says that approach can totally backfire.

“If we don’t take time to relax, it’s really difficult to have the energy to do the things we want,” she explains. “Slowing down can be the most helpful part. It will help the nervous system to relax and the adrenals can replenish themselves.”

To help, she recommends this simple restorative yoga pose and an easy breathing technique you can do pretty much anywhere (while navigating through the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree crowd or an airport terminal). Remember, sometimes less is more.

Yoga Pose

Lie on your back with your legs up a wall. “The most important thing is to adjust the distance of your hips from the wall so they’re as close as you can get them but you can still relax,” Cruikshank says. She recommends staying here for about five minutes with your eyes closed. Breathe naturally and count your inhales and exhales, so that they’re the same length. (We put this to an off-label use and did this in bed, too, and it beat counting sheep.)

Holistic Practice

Can’t put your feet up the wall at work? Try doing two or three cycles of deep breathing. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, with a four count inhale and four count exhale. “When you’re stressed and exhausted, your breathing can get stuck,” she says. Conscious breathing will trigger the parasympathetic nervous system, which will help you to relax and boost energy. Now, back to curling ribbon. —Jamie McKillop

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