The holiday season is a great time to carve out some stress-free time with a book. If you want to take that relaxation a step further, or work on some tighter muscles, some yoga poses are actually perfectly suited for reading time.
The majority of these poses work better when you give your body some time to ease and settle into them. I usually give myself a two page time limit before switching to the other side, but you can do more or less depending on your body. Benefits of each yoga pose are listed below, along with links to more in-depth articles about how to practice them correctly.
It may not look like yoga–you probably read like this when you were a kid–but sphinx pose can help stretch out your chest, shoulders, and stomach. It also helps strengthen the spine and buns. Passive butt exercises while reading. Must I tell you more?
Ahhh, pigeon pose. It’s one of my favorite yoga poses because I’m sitting in an office chair most of the day and get super tight thighs. It’s also one of the best to hold for long periods. Pigeon pose can help open up your hips, thighs, groin, and back. If it’s too hard (and most likely will be at first), you can use several blankets under your forward thigh to ease the stretch.
Once you’ve opened up both of your hips in pigeon pose, take a break for a few minutes in sphinx, and then move into this more intense hip opener. Lizard pose can help your hips, as well as hamstrings and thighs, open up and stretch. Make sure to do it on each side. It’s easiest to do this one with an ebook, but then again, you get more balancing benefits with a paper book.
Because of the aforementioned tight thighs and office chair, I sometimes have problems with lower back pain. The reclining big toe pose is a super easy pose you can do almost anywhere to help relieve back pain, stretch out your legs, and strengthen your knees. You can go more difficult by grabbing the toe with your hand, or using a strap as shown. The longer you rest in this one on each side, the more you’ll notice your legs releasing and stretching.
Legs up the wall pose is obviously made for prime reading time, but it also has loads of benefits for your body. It can help reduce back pain, menstrual cramps, fatigue, and anxiety. You can be super cute and do it against a tree like this, or against a wall, bed frame, or sofa.
As with everything in yoga, listen to your body in these poses, be conscious of your breath, and try to have fun doing them.
If you feel any sharp pains when practicing these, back off or find modifications–many of these are shown in the links. It also helps to come into these yoga poses when your body is just slightly warmed up (even if that means with a mug of tea and a blanket).
(All photos in this post are courtesy of my fantastic friend and fellow yogi Suzanne at Modern Yogi, because I cannot take photos of myself doing yoga without falling all over the place. She’s also great fun to follow on Instagram.)