Step-By-Step Yoga Poses: 2 for Instant Calm

The holiday season can be taxing for both body and mind. Take a grounding, self-care moment in between busy events to feel refreshed and centered. These two calming poses will help you ease into the New Year with a strong foundation of self-care.

Pose 1: Butterfly Pose

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Alias: baddha konasana (baddha = bound, kona = angle, asana = pose)

Why Butterfly Pose?

This pose soothes your central nervous system while you gently stretch and tone through the hip flexors and inner thighs! Benefits include:

  • Relieving tension through the backs of the legs, inner thighs, groin and hips
  • Calming/soothing of the nervous system
  • Stimulating digestive organs through deep breathing
  • Gentle toning of the belly and opening through the lower back

 Getting into the posture:

  • Sit down on the floor with legs stretched out straight in front of you. Bring the soles of your feet together to touch and let your knees drop down toward the floor on either side of you.
    • Quick tip: If you feel like you’re rolling back too much and straining to sit up straight, try propping your hips up on a folded blanket to round the pelvis forward.
  • Clasp your hands around the outside of your feet.
  • Inhale, pulling belly to spine and sitting up straight.
  • Exhale, ground down through your sit bones and feel the air leaving your nostrils.
    • Option 1: Remain here, straightening and lifting up from the sit bones as thighs and inner groin stretch.
    • Option 2: Move your chest slightly forward and down to intensify the stretch. Keep your back straight to ensure proper spinal support and only move as far forward as is safe in your body.
  • Stay in pose for 30-90 seconds. Focus on your breath.
    • Inhale fill completely with breath from the bottom of your belly to the top of your chest.
    • Exhale fully, gently pulling belly to spine.
  • To exit the pose, slowly bring yourself back to sit if you lowered down. Stretch both legs long out in front of you and take a moment to relax.
  • Repeat in those moments when you need to catch a breath or following a particularly intense round of holiday charades.

Tips for success:

  • Move your feet closer to intensify the stretch in the inner thighs and groin. Move feet further away from you to make the stretch a touch more gentle.
  • Support the outside of the thighs and knees with props (blocks, blankets) as needed.
  • Keep the spine straight and strong.
  • Roll shoulders back rather than forward.
  • Close your eyes to really focus on the breath.

Variations/Modifications:

  • Reclined Butterfly Pose: On the days you really need some grounding relief, simply lay on your back, bring the soles of your feet together to touch and let your knees open to the sides and begin to drop to the floor. Support the sides of your legs with props as needed.

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Contraindications (i.e., things to keep in mind):

  • Spine/back pain: Only stretch as far forward as feels comfortable and safe for your lower back.
  • Knee or hip injury: Use blankets or blocks to support underneath the outer thigh (this releases some of the pressure on knees and hips).

Pose 2: Easy Ragdoll Pose (Standing Forward Fold)

Alias: uttanasana (“standing forward fold”)

Why Ragdoll?

Forward folds are known to be calming. This standing forward fold can be practiced anywhere, from waiting at airport terminals to taking a break in the comfort of your own kitchen amidst bouts of holiday entertaining. Benefits include:

  • Stretching through the backs of the legs
  • Decompression and lengthening of the spine
  • Soothing of the nervous system (may help reduce fatigue and anxiety)
  • Gentle compression and stimulation of internal organs

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 Getting into the posture:

  • Begin by standing with feet placed two-fists-width apart (hip distance).
  • Place your hands on your hips and straighten up through the spine.
  • Slowly fold forward at the hips keeping your back straight and strong.
  • Bring fingertips to rest on the ground or on a prop (i.e. block, blanket).
  • Let your head and neck relax and release down toward the floor.
  • Bend your knees slightly to take pressure out of the lower back as needed.
  • Focus on your breath. Inhale count one, exhale count two. Continue counting to 10 and then repeat.
  • Remain in the pose for 30-90 seconds.
  • To exit the pose, bring your hands to your hips. Ground down through your feet and inhale up with a straight back, coming to stand.
  • Repeat as often as desired for instantaneous relief.

Tips for success:

  • If your low back or legs are feeling tight, bend your knees slightly.
  • Focus on lengthening through the spine.
  • Let go of physical and mental tension in the head, neck, and shoulder area.

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Variations/Modifications:

  • Try interlacing your hands in opposite elbows. The weight of your torso without hands grounded on the floor will traction the spine out even more.
  • Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose: Lay on your back with your right side up against the wall. Rotate 90 degrees so your seat is up against the wall. Extend your feet up towards the ceiling, resting the backs of the legs against the wall. Breathe and relax. This variation will bring the same calming benefits in a zero-impact environment.

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Contraindications (i.e., things to keep in mind):

  • Spine/back pain: Bend your knees generously and make sure feet are at least hip-width apart.
  • Back injury: Consult with your medical provider first.

*The term asana means “posture/pose” in the physical yoga practice.

Natalie Sober is a yoga enthusiast who is inspired to share her knowledge. Natalie completed her first RYT-200 hour yoga teacher training course in Telkot, Nepal, in the Sanatan style of yoga before obtaining her second RYT-200 certification in the Power Vinyasa style. She also happens to be a member of Pharmaca’s marketing department.

*Please consult your physician before beginning this series or any exercise program. As always, your body is the best teacher so listen to the cues it gives regarding whether or not a pose is a good idea.

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