This holiday season, Santa's not the only one checking his list. If your growing to-do list is stressing you out hardcore, check out this workout from Women's Health to melt the stress (and calories) away!
Research shows that right now — yes, just as you're reading this article — your brain's mood-stabilizing serotonin is dipping. In less scientific terms, you're one spilled latte away from going Grinch mode on everyone from your nana to Salvation Army Santas.
That's why we're rolling out the yoga mat. If you're convinced that pretzel twists just aren't your jam, now's the time to give it another go: A slew of studies confirms this mindful movement is linked to lower levels of cortisol and higher amounts of serotonin and the relaxant GABA, which may slash stress, anxiety, fatigue, even depression. "Yoga is active relaxation, which allows us to develop presence and take responsibility for the way we feel," says yoga instructor and Yogalosophy author Mandy Ingber, who designed the spirit-lifting routine here. "By moving with your breath, you move pent-up energy throughout your whole body, and with that, we can change our mood." Consider this your instant fix whenever you're feeling off.
1. Alternate Nostril Breathing: Sit in a cross-legged position, your spine tall. Use your right thumb to close your right nostril, then inhale for four seconds through your left nostril. Close your left nostril with your right pointer finger, then exhale for eight seconds out of the right nostril. Keeping your left nostril closed, inhale for four seconds. Then close the right nostril, and fully exhale out of the left nostril for eight seconds. That's one round. Continue switching after each inhalation for seven rounds.
2. Standing Forward Bend: Stand with feet parallel and slightly wider than your hips, your spine tall and a soft bend in your knees. Lift your sitz bones (your tush) toward the air as you fold your torso over your legs, bringing your chest as close to your legs as possible and the crown of your head toward the mat. Lengthen with each inhale by reaching for the floor; relax and settle into the pose with each exhale. Hold the bend for up to 60 seconds (10 breaths), then bend your knees and roll up one vertebra at a time. Click here to learn more!
>> For a CARDIO stress-relieving workout, click here!