12 Christmas sequences

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Christmas can be full to the brim with festivities, friends, family & happiness, it can also sometimes be hectic, stressful & overwhelming! Making it the perfect time of year to carve out a little bit of self care each day. Rolling out your yoga mat to recenter will help you enjoy time with friends and family, take all the ups and downs in your stride, and help you stay well over the winter months.

This Christmas I teamed up with The Irish Balance to bring 12 Days of Christmas Yoga sequences on Instagram. Each sequence had a different theme to support you during this busy time of year. I demystified how this sequence is helping you and Ciara gave some The Irish Balance tips for life balance. Thank you to all who joined us, yogis from far and wide spreading the Christmas yoga happiness!

All 12 sequences are here for you to save, print out and give it a go, or keep the practice going if you joined us on Instagram. You can practice all 12 or pick a few that have everything you need. Each sequence can be repeated as many times as you like. You’re very welcome to share these sequences or to teach them if you are a yoga teacher.

To save the images on your phone click and hold down image until the ‘save image’ option appears; on Mac hold down ‘control’ and click the image to get the option box; on PC right click on the image to get the option box. Scroll down in the ‘option box’ and click ‘save image’.

The best way to get you started for your 12 day Christmas Yoga flow is with a day of Sun Salutation or Surya Namaskaras. The Sun Salutation is a whole body and mind mini flow, and will give you everything you need from your practice today. It’s the adaptogen of the yoga world! It calms you when you need calming and it energises you when you’ve burnt the candle at both ends. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Do one round of each Surya, then add the additional poses for the next four rounds. Peak Pose – Surya Namaskara/Sun Salutation. Any Qs on the sequence are welcome. Ruth x

This time of year the temperature drops, the rain arrives, & the wind whips around us as we rush from A to B. It’s important to take good care of your physical health during winter, so here’s my top 2 tips! 1. Wrap up warm when you’re heading out. 2. Make sure to eat at least 5 servings of fruit & veg per day to boost your micro-nutrient intake. Ciara x

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With a cold snap in the air it’s time to stoke your internal generator and and get your circulation going. This sequence has plenty of twists and standing poses to keep you warmer than your Christmas wooly jumper! Twists stimulate the organs of the body which generate natural body heat from the inside and give you a bonus glow to your complexion. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. There are two round of Surya C in Row 1 for your warm up, then two more rounds in Row 2 where you add in your standing twists. Peak Pose – Parivrtta Utkatasana/Revolved Chair Pose. Any Qs on the sequence are welcome. Ruth x

It can be VERY tricky to motivate ourselves to get moving & get our exercise in during winter. But it’s often the thing we need the most – even when we don’t feel like it! So here’s my top 2 tips to stay active! 1. Start your day with even a little movement - try our 12 Days Yoga Flow & a short brisk walk! 2. Make it social – grab a family member or friend for a stroll & a catch up. Ciara x

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A healthy and happy gut is the key to a strong immune system for the winter months. 80% of the immune system is produced in the gut. Backbends stimulate the digestive system, bring fresh blood to the lining of the gut and helping it work more efficiently. Inversions boost your circulation and help the body flush out toxins too. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. In your Sury x 2 on Row 1 come all the way down to the ground and take locust. Don’t worry if headstand is not part of your practice you are still getting plenty of inversions in Downward Dog. Peak Pose – Setu Bandha Sarvangasana/Bridge. Ruth x

The Christmas period can be a source of anxiety for many who fear they will ‘lose control’ over their healthy eating habits. You WON’T! It’s a season to be enjoyed. Here’s my 2 tips to move past that worry. 1. Hit your 5 fruit & veg servings at a minimum every day – a wonderful start to a daily healthy diet! 2. Drink at least 2 litres of water per day – hydration is so important for many aspects of our health, but especially so at Christmas when alcohol consumption goes up a bit! Ciara x

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We hold physical and emotional tension in our hips. Hip openers help to relieve physical tension and in turn release emotional tension too. Spend some extra time in these hip opening poses to help release this built up tension. The magic will happen when you stay in a comfortable stretch rather than going to your end range of motion. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. In your Sury x 2 on Row 2 add lizard pose in the first round and half splits on your second round. Remember to do both left and right sides for each pose. Peak Pose – Ardha Matsyendrasana/Half Lord of the Fishes. Ruth x

It’s definitely the most wonderful time of the year in my book, but Christmas can also make even the most zen of us go a little crazy with the thoughts of the presents to buy! My top 2 tips to bust the stress are: 1. Make a list! Write down the gifts & tasks you need to do before you start your day – take pride in ticking each one off! 2. Make time for YOU – set aside t10-15 minutes, everyday, & do something you enjoy. It might reading, our yoga flows, a cuppa tea – but give it to yourself as a daily gift. Ciara x

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The countdown to Christmas has definitely kicked in and the shops are getting busier by the day. This sequence will help you focus the mind and give you an extra bit of stamina to face the crowds and enjoy that Christmas shopping buzz. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Take an extra few breaths n your warm up poses on the first two rows to open out your hips and groin. Peak Pose – Virabhadrasana II/Warrior II. Ruth x

Ah, the Christmas shop! You’re armed with your list, yoga done for the day, and when you get to the stores it mayhem. Don’t panic! Here’s 2 tips to master your shopping tasks. 1. Write down the locations where you’re likely to find the gifts on your lift. Be direct in where you go – don’t linger! 2. Make time for a break with a friend – schedule that coffee date mid-shopping trip for a catch up & a laugh! Ciara x

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Your calendar is filling up and you’re wondering how you’re going to fit it all in. Todays sequence will help get your energy levels up so you can enjoy all your Christmas social festivities. Balancing standing poses wake you up and are very energising. They power up the big muscles of the legs and help pump fresh oxygen around the whole body which give you that extra pep in your step. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Run through a round of ½ Sury from row one before the three main mini flow on row two and three. Peak Pose – Ardha Chandrasana/Half Moon. Ruth x

The ‘silly season’ can take a LOT out of us, as we feel like we have to say YES to every party & get together we’re invited to. Instead of fretting about all the nights out, take on board these 2 tips. 1. Be grateful for the friends & family you have in your life at this time of year – many people do not, & we should be thankful to have good people around us – even if they ate the last good chocolate out of the Roses! 2. Try to have a break for evenings by the fire between your social activities where possible – and reset with at least 7 (ideally 8) hours sleep on those nights! Ciara x

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In the winter months we’re inclined to curl our shoulders in to guard ourselves from the windy, cold weather. Gentle backbends will crack open your heart centre and help you stay open and present for all your Christmas social outings and might even have you dancing and prancing till the small hours of the morning! Backbends also have the added benefits of ease anxiety, stress and tension. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. There are two rounds of forward bends and half forward bends, pause in your half forward bend and look for the strength of your upper back. Peak Pose – Natarajasana/Lord of the Dance. Ruth x

Christmas is an absolutely wonderful time to just let your hair down a little bit. We live in a world now where social media can overwhelm us with posts & articles on how to ‘be’ healthy. But sometimes, the healthiest thing you can do for your body & mind is to let go a little – so this season, my top 2 tips here are: 1. Make it your mission to dance at LEAST once during this season. 2. Get some friends & family together at the social event & start a sing-song! I love belting out my favourite Christmas tunes – if no one wants to sing, just put Christmas FM on! Ciara x

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Late nights catching up with friends and family can take its toll on you. This gentle sequence has plenty of restorative poses and lots of opportunities to take childs poses. It will refresh your system and bring you back to balance again by boosting your circulation and massaging your gut to give you time to restore ready for your next festivities. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. I’m a great believer in using a blanket in Savasana. Not just for warmth but for the added weight on the body which tells it you are safe and helps you relax that extra 10%. Peak Pose – Salabhasana/Locust. Ruth x

As a kid, I always found St. Stephen’s/Boxing Day a little weird – Santa had come & gone, & I just wanted to restart the Christmas Eve magic again! Nowadays, I relish those post-Christmas days before New Year’s. They’re my time to see family & friends I didn’t get to see earlier in the month, & importantly when I find I reflect on the year just past, & start to form some thoughts on my goals for the year to come. So here’s my 2 post-festivities tips: 1. Write down 3 achievements from your 2018 during the days between Christmas & New Year – and be darn PROUD of them. 2. Write down 3 things you want to set as goals for 2019. Keep those 2 pieces of paper somewhere special – a journal, drawer, your phone, wherever! Ciara x

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Trains, planes and automobiles (or as we say cars!). When we travel we sit for long periods of time which shortens the front hip muscles. This built up tension can be very tiring and leave you wiped out after travel. Stretching out the front hips in this sequence is the perfect way to counteract this hip tension. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Spend a bit of extra time in your high lunge to lengthen out those hip flexor muscles. Peak Pose – Ashta Chandrasana/Eight Crescent Moon. Ruth x

I’ve been told I’m like a Duracell bunny because of my energy – I love that! True to form, I get REALLY fidgety when I have to sit for prolonged periods – especially on long travel journeys! So here’s my 2 tips to keep you mobile while to travel: 1. Take our Yoga Flows with you! I always keep a series of screenshots on my phone of Yogaru Sequences – I can do these abroad, in a hotel, gym, bedroom – simple! 2. As soon as you land in your new holiday surroundings – get out & explore! I love to see a new place on foot, & an adventurous stroll is a great way to start. Ciara x

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See what we’ve done there! Practice this sequence and get into the tree decorating mood. Lengthen up through the tip of the crown and get that start onto the top of the tree. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. In the flow on row three, run through the five poses with your right leg forward and then pivot to the back of the mat to take the five poses with your left foot forward. Repeat this twice so you have done two on right and two on left. Peak Pose – Vrksasana/Tree. Ruth x

One of my favourite days in December – putting up the Christmas Tree. It’s mandatory attendance in my house on this day, with all 6 of us in the Kelly family present. I love it. So for your 2018 tree, try these 2 tips: 1. Make sure your tree goes up with company you love to keep – family, significant other, friend, you name it. Cherish the time you spend decorating! 2. Buy a new decoration for your 2018 tree. It doesn’t have to be expensive – you could even make one! I do this every year – I visited the Belfast Titanic exhibition in the Spring & picked up mine then! Ciara x

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We place high expectations on this one day of the year and it can sometimes be a bit overwhelming. This sequence will set you up for the day with some forward folds to help you keep a level head and stay flexible in body and mind for the day! PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Peak Pose – Prasarita Padottanasana/Wide Legged Forward Fold. Ruth x

Oh, boy. The MAGIC of Christmas morning. This time of year has always been my favourite, & it stems from my childhood in America, waking up at 3am trying to catch Santa – my poor, ever patients parents! As an adult (I think!) it’s just as special for me. So here’s my Christmas Day tips: 1. Savour the moment of opening each present, & really feel the gratitude for the person who spent time, thought & money on getting you a special gift. 2. Enjoy every second you get to experience someone taking pleasure & joy from a gift you’re giving them! They say it’s a greater gift to give than receive, & I definitely agree. Ciara x

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Our digestive system likes routine and can sometimes get a bit grumpy when we give it richer foods than it may be used to. This can leave you feeling a bit bloated, sluggish and not quite as ‘regular’ as you usually are! This sequence will gently press, squeeze and wring out your gut to jump start your digestive system again and have you feeling ready to tackle the new year head on. PRACTICE TIPS: On a ‘+’ inhale, on a ‘-’ exhale. Peak Pose – Malasana/Squat. Ruth x

The Christmas FEAST. Is there a dinner more revered around the world? I think not. Whether you’re a turkey fan, vegetarian, or vegan, Christmas Day dinner is a really special occasion for all involved – a pretty busy one too! And yes, we often indulge in a wee bit more dinner & dessert than usual. But listen up guys – here’s my final tip. It’s a good one, so it counts as 2! Christmas Day is ONE DAY OF THE YEAR. Embrace, & enjoy your Christmas feast. Eat slowly, mindfully, laughing & enjoying your time with family & friends around you. Merry Christmas gang, and the very Happiest and healthiest of New Year to you and yours. Ciara x

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year
Ruth Delahunty Yogaru