Best Yoga Pose to Release Holiday Stress

Chris Freytag by Chris Freytag | December 10th, 2013 | 6 Comments
topic: Fitness, Yoga

down-dog-croppedThe holidays can be a time of fun and family. But for many, it can also be a time of added stress — good and bad! One of my favorite ways to stretch tight muscles and relieve stress is yoga. Speaking as a type-A, high-energy person, yoga is the perfect antidote to this stress-filled, anxiety-ridden, wound-up-tight-as-a-drum world we live in. For me, yoga is like personal therapy!

Yoga has been practiced around the world for more than 5,000 years as a way to increase range of motion, promote relaxation and enhance self-awareness. And there’s a reason it has such staying power throughout time. It’s been known to improve sleep, circulation, digestion, blood pressure and cardiovascular function. How can you argue with that?

My favorite pose: Downward-Facing Dog

A great yoga pose to start off with is Downward-Facing Dog, one of my favorites. As you might guess, its name comes from the fact that it resembles the shape a dog takes when it is stretching out. The pose will increase strength in your upper arms and shoulders over time while giving a great stretch to your back, hips and chest. You will also get a nice stretch in your calves and hamstrings if you gently push down your heels into the floor.

Give it a try

Begin on your hands and knees (see photo above). Place your feet hip-width apart, toes tucked under. Space your hands shoulder-width apart, and press the weight of your body onto your palms, spreading your fingers like starfish. Straighten your legs (beginners can bend their knees), and lift your tailbone toward the sky while pulling your navel toward your spine and gently pushing down through your heels. (Feel the stretch through the backs of your legs).

Open your upper back by rotating your shoulder blades slightly outward. Keep your shoulders away from your ears, and relax your head between your arms. Start gently — with time you will be able to hold the pose for longer durations.

Now, doesn’t that feel better?

yoga for stress

Related links:

9 Yoga Moves to Blast Holiday Calories

Restorative Yoga videos

How to Stay Healthy, Happy and Fit This Winter

5 Ways to Survive & Thrive This Holiday

yoga for stress

Stress Solutions:

Yoga for Stress Relief

Rodney Yee’s Yoga for Stress Relief and Energy

Harmony CD

Relaxation CD Set


  1. Hi- I was just looking for a picture to put on a flyer for a workshop entitied “anatomy and asana- preventing yoga injuries” and I happened across your photo of your downward facing dog. I am not the person to post on a blog like this- but I just feel that it is the responsible thing to let someone know when they are going to injure themselves because of incorrect alignment in their asana practice. To correctly align yourself in the posture you need to start from the base…opening wide through the fingers, middle finger facing forward, pushing into the pads of the first three fingers, giving special attention to the thumb and forefinger, really engaging through this region, letting the pinky be light on the mat. Extend through the crown of the head keeping the ears in line with the forearms…tailbone moves up and BACK- making the spine long…there should be no rounding of the spine. You can bend your knees deeply, continuing to send the tailbone up and back- furthering the lengthening of the spine. Roll the thighs IN to continue to stabilize the lower back. Only then do you think about lengthening out through the hamstrings as straight legs and heels on the ground are VERY secondary to lengthening through the spine… as a matter of fact, some of the loveliest downdogs I have seen have been with bent legs. With time, when the hams loosen, the legs will straighten and the heels will descend. It is a journey- so it may take years.
    Sorry for the long winded post, but if you continue your dog like this you could really mess up your lower back and strain your shoulder girdle. There are a lot of other points of alignment for this posture- but those are the most basic ones. Be well and shine on, sweet yogini!

    Shannon | January 26th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  2. I like downward dog too- and I also love 3-legged down dogs with either one hand or foot raised. When I really want a chilled out practice I also like to do balasana (child’s pose) and forward bends before ending with my legs up the wall.

    Sylvia Smelcer | February 16th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  3. Hello Chris, Hope you read these comments.
    As I was scrolling down the page to tell you how you must fix your back in this position, I have noticed Shanon has allredy done it. I don’t even know how to explain how important it is to do the postures right. Done wrong , they can do so much damage, even greater in quantity (if could be messured) to the benefit you get from doing them right.
    Be carefull, practice seriously, with care.

    Anonymous | October 26th, 2010 | Comment Permalink
  4. Great pose! I will give it a try too! Thanks!

    Anonymous | March 31st, 2011 | Comment Permalink
  5. This is best

    Rehan | March 28th, 2013 | Comment Permalink
  6. yoga should be fun not painful.

    john mary | April 19th, 2013 | Comment Permalink

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