Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Yoga with Toulouse

Here by popular demand is an 8-pose Yoga Exercise for Christmas given by my good friend, Toulouse LeTrek:

While Nina is busy doing Christmas things (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...

Here’s 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 here…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.

You need a lot of strength, flexibility and concentration to do the Peacock. 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.

Last but certainly not least, is the Final Relaxation, 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.

Have a safe, joyous and meaningful “giving season”

Merry Christmas, everyone!

You can find more Toulouse adventures on the site Toulouse on the Loose. Read about his great travels across the globe to France, Switzerland, Romania, Thailand, Australia, Canada, USA, Sweden, Mexico, Costa Maya, Belize and so many more places... There Toulouse finds the best places to go, eat, drink and relax. Somehow, he also finds the best places for adventure and discovery along the way. Learn from this consummate traveller, sommelier and purveyor of great food: Toulouse LeTrek. Go find him on Trip Advisor or on Facebook...

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 Visit for more about her writing.