Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Christmas Yoga with Toulouse


While Nina is busy preparing for Christmas (probably eating and drinking herself silly), I thought I’d provide a public service to those of you indulging in the holiday festivities. Here is my 8-pose Christmas Yoga Exercise to help you gear up for all that Christmas cheer. It’s just the thing for a body bloated on Christmas pudding, turkey and baking.

Did you know that the word yoga means “union”? Yoga creates harmony by controlling your breath and holding your body in steady poses called “asanas”. Five key elements include proper breathing, proper exercise, proper relaxation, proper diet, and positive thinking and meditation. Yoga should be supervised by a qualified teacher. Don’t worry. That’s me.

So, first off, choose a pleasant, peaceful and spacious setting for your exercises. You might like to turn the lights down and light some candles and put on your favorite Christmas music (so long as it isn’t “I am Santa Claus” by Bob Rivers or “Takin’ Care of Christmas” by Randy Bachman). You can use a mat for extra comfort and give yourself lots of room. Then you need to do some stretching exercises …

The purpose of the Headstand is to rest the heart, which usually has to work against gravity and will likely do some extra laps this Christmas with all the cholesterol coursing through you from figgy pudding, turkey stuffing and eggnog. Some people think headstands heal everything. Well, it sure gives you a different perspective on things! And that’s gotta be good for you.

The Dolphin pose strengthens the arms and shoulders. It kind of prepares you for the headstand. I’m doing a great job, aren’t I?

The Plough pose increases overall flexibility, but it’s particularly effective for relieving tension in the upper back and shoulders; especially after you’ve been with the relatives for over two days. This pose is particularly easy for cats like me. Don't worry if you can't do it right away. Do more stretching excercises like the ones I show below.

Below is the Cobra, one of my favorite positions. It does tons of good things like toning and strengthening the superficial and deep muscles of the back and abdominal regions. It also increases backward bending flexibility—something a cat like me does lots—and it relieves tension, especially in the lower back. Good for after you’ve been shoveling the driveway…

The Locust is a backward bending exercise that increases flexibility of the upper back and strengthens the lower back muscles. Holding the pose also massages the internal organs and makes them frisky—which you will be too; good for combating the “big meal” doldrums.

The Camel pose I’m doing below…well, I might have gotten carried away… lets you exercise all your back muscles and extends your spinal column by bending your back fully. It’s useful for increasing spinal and hip flexibility.
Here I am doing the Spinal Twist, which stretches the spine and helps the vertebrae regain their mobility. The roots of the spinal nerves and the nervous system get toned and provided with increased blood supply--something they'll need after all that drinking...Hmm, I'll have to show Nina this pose...

You need a lot of strength, flexibility and concentration to do the Peacock, below. As you can see, I have a lot of it! When the pose is held, your elbows press into the abdominal region, drawing fresh blood to the area and nourishing your internal organs; something they'll appreciate after all the chips and dip you've filled them with.

There's never too much stretching to be done (something I must confess a penchant for), so here are a two stretches I recommend. Because they compliment one another you should do them both... You can do them anywhere and anytime, like at the bus stop, but I suggest not doing them in the car while you're driving. I call them the "Inny" and "Outy" stretches. If you do them on the dance floor I call them the "John Travolta" stretches.

*****
Last but certainly not least, is the Final Relaxation, below, my favorite part. And I do it well, as you can see… Relaxation is important because it leaves you with a calm mind and relaxed muscles. It allows the body to absorb the energy released by the asanas. You need to relax this way for at least five minutes. I’m so good at it that I do it for … well, hours.

On behalf of Nina and I we wish you a safe, healthy, joyous and meaningful “giving season”.

Merry Christmas, everyone!
For more adventures with Toulouse, check out his very own blog, Toulouse LeTrek, the COOL Travel Cat! :-3








Nina Munteanu is an ecologist and internationally published author of novels, short stories and essays. She coaches writers and teaches writing at George Brown College and the University of Toronto. For more about Nina’s coaching & workshops visit www.ninamunteanu.me. Visit www.ninamunteanu.ca for more about her writing.

10 comments:

Jean-Luc Picard said...

I think Toulouse could rival the Jane Fonda fitness videos!

Happy Christmas, Nina!

SF Girl said...

LOL! Yes.... you might be right, Jean-Luc! We'll see...we'll see... don't want him to get all bloated in the head though... He's challenging enough to travel with as it is...

(sometimes it's hard when a stuffed cat is smarter than you are... LOL!)

Baby Brie said...

Hey Nina,

Have you taken up yoga??

SF Girl said...

LOL! I used to do yoga poses every day... Now it's Toulouse... Frankly, I'm waiting for the video... :)

Spacerguy said...

Merry Christmas Nina!

SF Girl said...

Thanks, Spacerguy! I wish you and your loved ones a very Merry Christmas too!

Cathy Paxton said...

Toulouse is one smart and funny-ha-ha kitty! He's a great cure for those post-holiday doldrums and blahs!

SF Girl said...

LOL! He is certainly that!... :)

Toulouse LeTrek said...

Well, since you spoke of videos...my series of yoga videos will be shortly out. I'll come back with links when they are up! Thanks for watching!

Ton ami,
Toulouse :-3

Luxury yoga vacation said...

Very good blog