With the blue-gray dusk and early nightfall, winter evenings give craving for something internal, comforting, and warming. Instead of unwinding with a cocktail, I’ve begun having a yoga happy hour after work. It’s so wonderfully restorative after a long day at work, and it helps refocus your energies for the nighttime activities of cooking, eating, and relaxing (and of course, writing). But what I really love about my Yoga Happy Hour is how luxurious it feels. Even if it’s only for 30-45 minutes, try this simple way to treat yourself right.
1. Dim the lights and light the candles.
2. Turn on your favorite yoga music.
Do you ever go to your yoga class, only to be disappointed/distracted by your teacher’s choice of music? Now you’re the DJ–pick the music that inspires and relaxes you.
3. Ease into your practice on your back, doing a few spinal twists to warm up. Lie down with your knees crossed (like in eagle pose), and arms flat on the ground in a T. Lower your knees to the left while keeping the shoulders square, and look to the right. Switch sides.
4. Fire up your solar plexus with yogic “bicycle kicks.” Breathe in, knees together, lift your feet off the floor; breathe out, slowly bring your right knee up to your left elbow as your twist to the right. Repeat, switching sides, for 20 breaths.
5. Continuing onto your vinyasas: in Warrior I, focus on opening your back and shoulders–which have likely been cramped during the day if you work in an office. Throw your head back and stretch the spine from the coccyx to the crown, and gaze at your hands in prayer mudra.
6. For de-stressing, try deep hip openers like lizard pose. Because you are in a low lunge (bottom leg is resting on the floor) you can focus more on stretching rather than flexing. From a low lunge, step your left foot slightly outside the mat, so that your left knee is outside your left elbow (pictured). Bring your forearms to the ground, parallel to each other for a deep stretch–hold for 5 deep breaths. Then, bring yourself up on your palms, and roll your head and torso in wide, circular motion–you should feel a great tension release.
7. Finish off with some inversions/balancing poses for calm, then savasana. Now you’re ready for your night!
Update: Yoga Happy Hour is now a legit movement, at least among PD editors. Here is Beauty Editor Mary and Lou. (That’s right, you can’t work at PD without a cat or two or three. Just kidding) 😉
More in Yoga: Yoga for New Beginnings
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling; Mary Hood Luttrell