Yoga for Paddling: Top Poses to Relieve Holiday Stress - Mind Body Paddle

Yoga for Paddling: Top Poses to Relieve Holiday Stress

Yoga for Paddling: Top Poses to Relieve Holiday Stress

In my experience most paddlers are very active types who don’t like to slow down. In our culture we are encouraged to stay busy, keep going and get things done. It’s important to get things done because that’s how we pay our bills, provide for our families and accomplish our goals. Unfortunately few of us are able to do this without experiencing high levels of stress that take a toll on our health. The Holiday Season can compound that with added activities, rich foods, less hours of sunlight and pressure to be happy and joyful all the time. As a result many of us end up feeling tired, stressed and grumpy and that’s no fun for anyone. The following gentle yoga poses can help you manage Holiday stress. You can practice them any time you have a moment or before bed to help you sleep better. The key is to do the practice whether you do one of the poses or all three. They’re also great for relieving muscle imbalances due to paddling! Relax and enjoy.

Windshield Wiper Pose



This is a relaxing, passive stretch for the hip flexors.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor on either side of your mat.
  • On an exhale take both knees over to the right while keeping your feet wide. Allow the soles of both feet to lift off the floor so that the inner edge of your left foot and the outer edge of your right foot stay in contact with the ground.
  • Take your left arm overhead or out to the side for a stretch all the way up the side body.
  • Breathe deeply and easily in and out through your nose for 5 breath cycles.
  • Switch sides.

Reclined Twist


Twists are beneficial for the nervous system and boost digestion, which can also boost energy.

  • Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the mat sitz bones distance apart.
  • Inhale and bring your feet off the floor so that your thighs create a 90 degree angle with your body.
  • Exhale and take your knees over to the right until your bottom leg is resting on the floor and your top leg is resting on your bottom leg. Keep the knees in line as much as possible and at waist height.
  • Extend the arms out from your shoulders to enjoy a chest across the pectorals.
  • Breathe deeply and easily in and out through the nose for 5 breath cycles.
  • Switch sides.

Legs up the Wall


This is one of my favorite restorative poses and it works wonders for fatigue and stress.

  • Bring your mat to the wall so that the short end of the mat is against the wall.
  • Sit sideways to the wall as close as you can.
  • Lie on your back and take your legs up the wall.
  • Move your butt toward the wall until it is in contact with the wall as well as the back sides of your legs.
  • Turn your palms out so that they are facing the ceiling.
  • Lift your chin slightly to maintain your cervical spine curve.
  • Breathe easily in and out through the nose and allow yourself to relax completely.
  • Hold for 5 – 10 minutes or until you feel rejuvenated.

Photos by Scott Martin

Anna’s book Yoga for Paddling written for Falcon Guides will be available April 15, 2016. You can purchase her DVD Yoga for Kayaking in the online store now.

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