Six Poses Help You Stay As Zen As Possible When Yoga

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With so much going on at this time of year -- from holiday parties to shopping trips to family reunions -- it can be hard to find time for yoga. But it's time for you to do so. "Yoga relieves stress, muscle tension and mental tension," says Anita Perry, yoga instructor and author of The Yoga Moment. "It's all about focusing on your breathing, which helps release the tension that's hidden everywhere in your neck, shoulders, jaw and hands." In other words, your stress over complicated family dynamics or gift-giving anxiety suddenly becomes much more manageable.

Good news for those with packed schedules: While it's great to spend a full hour learning a relaxation class like Yin yoga or restorative yoga, even just a few minutes can help. "Take a minute to relax your body and focus on your breath," Anita says. Setting a goal for the day really resets your brain."

Looking for some concrete actions to help you stay as Zen as possible at this time of year? The following six suggestions are a good place to start:

1.Kiddo: This position helps relieve tension in your lower back and makes you feel more grounded. To do this, first get on all fours, then sit back on your feet while lowering your forehead to the ground and extending your arms in front of you.
2.Bunny pose: Start in child's pose and stretch your hands toward your feet, grabbing your heels as far as you can. At the same time, arch your back and land on your head.
3.Lightning: From the kneeling position, sit back on the soles of your feet. Keep your spine straight and your hands on your knees. Stay still and focus on your breathing.
4.Standing forward bends: 'When you lower your head below your heart, it sends oxygen and blood to your brain and helps you reduce stress,' says Anita. From a standing position, bend your hips forward and stretch your torso. Reach your hands to the floor. If you can't reach the floor, grab your elbows with your other hand and let them hang down.
5.Stand on your side: Start in a standing position with your arms straight over your head and palms facing each other. Grab your right wrist with your left hand, then pull your arm to the left, bending it slightly in the same direction. Repeat on the other side.
6.Sa: This position makes you stand still, but it takes a lot of thinking. Get your feet in place so you can feel the ground under you, keep your legs nice and strong, pull your navel into your spine, lift your torso and chest, lower your shoulders, and continue to look up. From here, focus on your breath, going from the top of your head to your feet and back in a circular motion. Anita said: 'The best part is that you can do this pose anywhere, even in line at the grocery store. No one knows what you're doing."

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