Here is a special pose for Christmas.
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana (Upward Facing Dog)
This one will get you stretching and ready for all the Christmas dinner and puddings that are sure to come.
Laying on the floor in prone postion (facing downwards).
Keep the feet hip width apart, pointing the toes straight back, engaging the feet fully, by pressing/spreading all your toes into the mat (great for developing inner arches of the feet!).
Place the palms on the floor by the side of your waist, fingers pointing forward. (Remembering at all times to push all of your fingers, knuckles and both thumbs into the mat, as to create a subtle energy in the palm centre. This will stop you applying all the weight directly into the wrists, practicing with the awareness of gently strengthening the wrists gradually.)
Inhale, raise the head and trunk up from the floor, straightening/stretching into the arms completely (unless you have a tendency of hyper extending in the elbow joint, in this case have a slight softening/bending at the elbow, focusing more on engaging all the muscles of the arms to support the hyper flexibility of this hinge joint, instead of over stretching and weakening).
Legs are also fully lifting from the floor at this point. Engage the legs completely, stretching the kneecaps up toward your thighs. Keeping the feet fully activated.
Broaden into your chest fully, and release all tension in the shoulders, allowing the shoulder blades to melt completely down your back. This action will help guide you into a more relax posture, releasing any tension in your lower back.
If you are comfortable here, and it feels appropriate to do so, begin to take your head back, taking your gaze toward the sky.
Breathe several long, deep, smooth and rhythmic breaths before gently coming out of the pose.
Benefits: Rejuvenates the spine, and is specially recommended for people suffering with a stiff back. The movement benefits ailments such as, Lumbago, Sciatica and those suffering from slipped or prolapsed discs of the spine. Due to the lovely chest expansion, the lungs gain elasticity and the muscles of the ribcage (Intercostal muscles) are stretched. The action of the shoulders moving back and down will help open up the Pectoralis Major, which generally shortens, as many tend to roll their shoulders forward habitually now-a-days. The space created in the pelvic and abdominal region means that blood circulates properly, helping to keep our organs happy and healthy.
Contraindications and cautions : Do not practice this posture if you have a back injury, could be pregnant, or, suffer with carpal tunnel syndrome.
Have fun, and Merry Christmas to you all. Kx