No Tantrums this Holiday: 8 ‘Yoga Time-Out’ Poses for Grownups

Sadie Nardini by Sadie Nardini | December 11th, 2008 | 3 Comments
topic: Fitness, Health & Wellness, Personal Growth, Relationships, Yoga

Not to be a total bummer, but no matter how many hours we’ve put in on the mat, how many “Om”s we sing or how many times we dent the meditation cushion, anyone can regress in times of stress. We get snarky, we lash out, we turn on the waterworks and display a host of other behaviors better suited to the Terrible Twos than, say, a holiday dinner at the adult table.

“Family, relationships, and stressful situations are triggers that can make anyone want to turn into a 5-year old again,” says my psychologist friend Dr. Jeffrey Hull. And how. I count myself as a spiritual warrior of the heart: strong and resilient, compassionate and wise. Yet one offhand comment from my mother can bring up the urge to scream out loud. As conscious people, we learn that wanting to throw a tantrum, and actually doing it, are two choices with entirely different outcomes.

Yoga gives you a special tool against letting these storms deluge your interactions — the art of pausing. So whenever you get the urge to let your inner toddler grab the wheel, don’t regress … progress. Before you say the first thing that comes to mind or press “send” on that  fiery email, take a walk, take a bath or stick in the iPod headphones ... and try this yoga sequence designed to give you a yoga time out. It’s a moving meditation you can use to calm your storminess so you can reflect within, and from there figure out WWLD (what would love do)? When you have an answer that comes from this place, then take action, and you’ll emerge cleanly … no mess, no stormy debris to deal with later. Did I mention it’s a great core workout, too?

Reaction Buster: Seated Cat/Cow

Reaction Buster 1

Seated Cow Pose

To process fierce emotions, the key is to first get your body and breath moving. Instead of acting out, you’ll contain, then channel any frustration, fear or anger into constructive motion that releases pent-up stress, and lengthens the low back and hips, while firing up the core. Take slow, deep breaths through the nose here.

1. From a cross-legged seat, hang onto your knees. Inhale and begin to arch your spine forward. Draw your shoulders back and rock to the front of your sitting bones, curving into your lower back.

2. Keep your neck long as you look diagonally up, so as not to compress your cervical spine.

Do on one inhale; alternate with the next pose for 5-10 rounds of breath or more.

Reaction Buster 2

Seated Cat Pose

1. Exhale, and round your torso, rocking to the back of your sitting bones. Draw your navel to spine, and gently bring your chin towards the chest.

2. Really press back so your shoulder blades move apart and you can stretch the arms away from your body. This helps open tension in the neck, shoulders and upper back as well as activating the core.

Do on one exhale; alternate with the previous pose for 5-10 rounds of breath.

Adrenaline Releaser: Boat Pose Pulses

Boat Pulse 1

Boat Pulse 1

Now that you’ve shaken up the reaction, let’s alchemize it into what you want, and release what you don’t. Here you’ll deepen into the core work, stabilizing the adrenals to return your body and mind to a calmer state. Your adrenal glands are located above the kidneys, and if they just got a workout of their own pumping fight-or-flight adrenaline into your body, it’s time to give them some TLC.

1. Lean onto your sitting bones and lift the feet up to knee height. Cross your ankles and hang on behind the knees if you’re building strength. Or, try reaching out, palms face up. Open your heart and aim for a straight spine.

2. Inhale, and stretch the legs forward an inch, or more. Eventually, if it’s OK for your low back, you can lengthen all the way to the floor, balancing on the back of the hips only.

Do on one inhale; alternate with the next pose for 5-10 rounds of breath.

Boat Pulse 2

Boat Pulse 2

1. Exhale, and from the strength of the navel and pelvic floor squeezing in, draw the knees back into the chest. Reach forward and through the knees, or continue holding on.

2. The more you exhale, the stronger your core and the more balanced your adrenals will become. So release that last bit of breath for full transformation here.

Do on one exhale; alternate with the previous pose for 5-10 rounds of breath.

Positive Fist Pump: Kneeling Fists of Fire

Fists of Fire 1

Fists of Fire 1

You’ve cleared and balanced. Now move your new intentions into sharper focus. Maybe there’s a more intelligent way to perceive the moment than the one that caused you to react: what is it? As you work your arms, abs and thighs, you’ll remember your ability to bring the laser-like power of your mind and heart fully back under your control.

1. Kneel at the front of the mat. Pad the mat underneath your knees if necessary, and lengthen your tailbone to stack hips over thighs.

2. Activate your navel into the spine as you inhale, and reach both hands up. Stretch and widen the heart from your deepening center strength.

Do this on one inhale; alternate with the next pose for 5-10 breaths or more.

Fists of Fire 2

Fists of Fire 2

1. Exhale, lean back a little or a lot as you bring the fists down to the low side waist. The more core stability you activate here, the farther back you can go.

Do this on one exhale; alternate with the previous pose for 5-10 breaths or more.

A Bridge to Somewhere: Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose

This pose helps you walk above and over troubled waters. From your new, higher vantage point, you’ll see that the best course of action is one done with an open, compassionate heart. Whether you have to set a boundary or not, you can do it with respect, love for self and others, and integrity. Plus, you’re toning your thighs and detoxing the body to look and feel great. Now, that’s true freedom!

1. Come to lie down on your back, knees bent, feet parallel.

2. Exhale, curl your tailbone to the sky, and lift the hips high. Interlace the fingers under your back and bring the shoulder blades gently together. Gently lift the chin and slide the back of the head slightly into the neck to retain its natural curve.

Breathe here into your opening heart for 5-10 breaths or more.

From Reaction to Right Action: Child’s Pose

Child's Pose

Child's Pose

Return to the youngster in a new way: as the grown-up; the one who can give that rowdy child what he or she needs: attention, love, respect, safety, and hey, even to have a rockin’ good time. Give it to yourself now; be it from the inside out, even if those around you choose not to.

1. From Bridge Pose, roll onto your side, press up and move your hips to heels. Touch your forehead to the floor or make fists under your head and rest. Breathe deeply into the back body to counter-pose your backbend, while you reflect on what you need to do next for 5-10 breaths or more.

For more ideas on optimizing your inner strength and living the fierce life, check out my book Road Trip Guide to the Soul!

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Comments

  1. awesome – just what I was looking for, not just for the holiday season, but also the introspective, self-evaluative (is that a word?) time in deep winter at the end of the year – thanks!

    Peggy Acott | December 18th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  2. Thanks, Peggy

    Exactly–this can work anytime to get you moving inside before acting out! Let me know if and how you use it.
    Namaste,
    Sadie

    Sadie Nardini | December 19th, 2008 | Comment Permalink
  3. [...] food, for a friend’s advice, or even coping mechanisms that might not be as healthy. But have we mastered the art of running headlong into drama, then immediately connecting inward, to take our own sage counsel [...]

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