A yoga flow to activate your zen over the festive season
Need to unwind? Dive into this 20-minute flow by qualified yogi Tess Mol (@tttesselate) to bring some zen to your hectic life. It’s the perfect antidote to your next dysfunctional family lunch or crazy end of year to-do list.
Find a comfortable seated position and bring your attention to your breath. Follow your breath as it moves around your body—down to the tips of your toes and all the way out through the crown of your head. Notice any tightness or tension within your body and simply become aware of it. Lengthening your exhalation, allow your body to melt down into the mat, dropping your shoulders away from your ears, allow the muscles in your face to relax. Release any tension you’re holding with your breath. Set an intention for your practice—something you’d like to let go of, or something you’d like to work on (like not biting Aunty Sue’s head off at your next family do).
Fold over onto your hands and knees, keeping your knees stacked under hips and wrists under shoulders in a tabletop position. Inhale and arch your spine, sending your gaze towards the ceiling. Exhale and curve your spine, imagining you are pushing the ceiling away with your upper back. Pull your shoulder blades away from each other and press your hands hard into the mat, tucking your chin to your chest. Move through these stretches 10 times each side, becoming aware of how your movement connects with your breath.
From tabletop, sink back into a child’s pose. Exhale, allowing your torso to rest over your thighs and your forehead to touch the mat. Take big deep breaths, noticing how your breath extends up from your stomach into the back of your ribs. Stay here for 10 deep breaths.
From child’s pose, tuck your toes and lift your knees and hips up into a downward dog. Walk out your feet, sending one heel towards the ceiling and the other down to the mat, stretching deeply into your calves and hamstrings. Send each heel down to the mat five times.
Standing forward fold
From downward dog, gently walk your feet in towards your hands at the top of the mat. Hang your torso down over your thighs, and take a hold of the elbows with opposite hands. Swing gently from side to side, inviting some deep stretching into your hamstrings. Stay here for five deep breaths. Release your elbows and roll up slowly, vertebrae by vertebrae until you’re standing. Take a big shoulder roll, and then inhale, lifting your arms up. Hinge at your hips and dive back down into a forward fold, taking a hold of your elbows again. Stay here for another five breaths.
Release your elbows and plant your hands on the mat. Step your right foot back into a high lunge. Inhale your arms up towards the ceiling, and while exhaling sink down into the lunge so that your front shin is perpendicular to the floor. Stay here for five breaths.
Keeping your front foot in the same position, turn your back foot to a 90-degree angle. Turn your body and open your hips up to the right-hand side. Take your arms out in line with your legs and horizontal to the floor, sending your gaze over your front middle finger. Stay here for five breaths.
Extended side angle
From warrior two, bring your right elbow down to your right knee and inhale your left arm up towards the ceiling and then exhale your arm over the ear, making a straight line with the left side of your body. Stay here for five breaths.
Pulling up actively from your extended side angle, sink back into warrior two for a breath. Then, flip your front palm so it’s facing the ceiling and send your left hand back towards the left leg. Allow your right arm to reach up and over towards the back of the room, keeping your gaze resting on your palm. Pull up actively and cartwheel your hands to the ground. Step back to a downward dog and repeat your warrior flow on your left side.
When you’ve finished your left side, sink back down into a child’s pose from downward dog, then find your way back to a comfortable seated position.
Take a few more moments to check in with your body and revisit your intention (remember, no killing Aunty Sue!). Let’s flow, not fight.