Christmas can be a fun time, but also a really hectic season.  There is so much build up to the big day, lots of eating & drinking, family & friends, plus late nights, and although enjoyable after a while we can all start to feel a bit tense and frazzled.

Remember it’s not selfish to take time out, in fact it’s important if we are to recover from the busyness of life.  It does not matter who you are, or how much you enjoy what you do, if you keep giving out more than you take in, eventually something has to give.

If you do feel like you need some head space, a walk in the fresh air can make a huge difference.  However, on those dark, cold and raining days it’s sometimes hard to get out, and 5-10 minutes of Pilates can really help to release tension in the body, remind us to slow down our breathing, and focus the mind.  There are so many amazing Pilates exercises, here are just 5 suggestions that help to relax the body and mind during this busy time.

Top 5 Pilates moves to de-stress during the festive season

1. Shoulder Drops.  A great way to release tension in the shoulders and upper body.

Lie on your back, legs bent feet flat on the floor. Raise both arms towards the ceiling, directly above your shoulders, palms facing each other.  Breathe in wide and full into the ribs as you reach one arm up to the ceiling, shoulder blade comes off the floor.  Breathe out through your mouth as you drop the shoulder back onto the floor.  Repeat 10x with each arm.

2. Cat stretch.   This exercise helps to stretch and release the back.

Position yourself on your hands and knees, hands under shoulders, knees hip-width.  Start with a flat back, breathe in to prepare, and as you breathe out, pull abdominals in drawing navel to spine.  Gently tuck your tailbone under and round your back slowly and carefully.  Slowly return to a flat back. Repeat x5 times.

3. Spine curl/ Shoulder Bridge. This is a great exercise that mobilises the spine, as well as strengthening the abdominals, pelvic floor, bottom & legs.

Lie on your back with your legs bent, feet flat on the floor and hip width.  (You can place a cushion between your knees to keep the legs in alignment, and work the inner thighs). Arms by your side, upper body relaxed and open. Inhale to prepare, as you exhale draw navel to spine and curl the tailbone slightly lifting the bottom off the floor.  Start off small and each time you can gradually peel a little more of the spine off the floor.  Aim to lengthen your spine as you slowly wheel back down onto the floor.  Try to keep the weight even on both feet, and your neck long and soft.  Repeat x5 times.

 

4. Hip Flexor Stretch. We often watch more TV over Christmas, so this is a great way to gently lengthen the hip flexors after sitting watching Christmas films.

Lie on you back, bend the right knee and draw it up to your chest, hold just below your knee or under the thigh (avoid holding directly on your knee),  stretch the left leg along the floor.  Hold this stretch for about 5 breaths then switch over legs.  Try to keep upper body relaxed and open.

5. Rest pose.  A great way to stretch the back, and to learn control of your breathing in a relaxed position.  NB: Avoid this one if you have knee problems.

Start on your hands and knees, bring your feet together your knees stay apart.  Slowly move your bottom back and rest on your feet. The arms can stay extended, and the back slightly rounded.  The further apart the knees, the more of a stretch in the inner thighs. Aim to relax and take around 10 breaths in this position.

 

 

 

Important: Always warm up before any sort of exercise.  Move with control and think about your posture. Listen to your body, and  only do what you feel comfortable doing.  Avoid exercising if you feel unwell.