Christmas yoga poses are trending - how to make your workout fun yet effective this festive season

Looking for a calming, restorative festive practice? Look no further.

Christmas yoga poses: A woman practicing yoga in front of her Christmas tree
(Image credit: Getty Images)

For all its sparkle and wonder, there’s no denying that Christmas is a stressful time of year for many. Endless to-do lists, a jam-packed social life and year-end work pressures can combine to make December more manic than magical. Enter: Christmas yoga poses.

The festive workout is currently trending and for good reason. In amongst the festivities, it can be harder than ever to carve out time to work out – let’s face it, exercising can easily slip to the bottom of our priorities – and while that’s totally okay, it’s no secret that getting our sweat on is a great stress reliever, needed at this manic time of year.

So, what better time, then, to try and carve out some space for a restorative and calming practice, combining some gentle movement and a dose of much-needed zen? Christmas yoga promises to be the relaxing practice your festive season needs, allowing you space to regulate frazzled nervous systems and cultivate some calm.

Need more convincing? This landmark 2011 study published in Int J Yoga concluded that yoga not only boosts muscle strength and body flexibility, but promotes and improves respiratory and cardiovascular function, improves sleep, and reduces stress, anxiety, depression, and chronic pain. In short, it promises to enhance pretty much all aspects of your overall well-being and quality of life - not bad, for a workout you can do from the comfort of your living room and with no equipment necessary.

If you're after a dose of zen amongst the chaos, we've got you covered with these yogi-approved festive moves. Tempted? Check out our guides to the different types of yoga, yoga for energy and yoga for beginners, while you're here. 

What is Christmas yoga?

Wondering what on earth Christmas yoga poses actually are? Put simply, it's your usual yoga practice but with a fun festive spin. 

“A festive season yoga practice might involve slow, grounding stretches, or an easy yoga flow that you can do while home for the holidays,” says psychotherapist and yoga instructor Eloise Skinner. “It can also involve more reflective elements of the practice - for example, breathwork, intention-setting or meditation." These elements can be especially helpful during periods of overwhelm and high stress, FYI.

“Although the Christmas traditions are distinct from the traditions and heritage of yoga, it's definitely a great time to be diving deeper into your yoga practice,” she tells Marie Claire UK.

Why should I give Christmas yoga a go?

Even if you’ve never practised yoga before, when it’s dark and dreary outside and motivation to exercise can be, let’s face it, challenging, yoga might be the perfect way to incorporate some movement into your routine.

Alongside the physical benefits of increased strength, flexibility, mobility and injury reduction, Christmas yoga poses, in particular, encourage us to connect with our inner child, as yoga teacher Cat Merrick explains.

“Festive yoga can be a fun, light-hearted physical practice that allows you to celebrate the joy, fun and magic of Christmas while letting go of the stresses and strains that we can feel as adults at this time of year.”

You don't have to get up at the crack of dawn to wheel through morning yoga flows - rather, take your time and move your body whenever feels good for you.

A yogi's go-to Christmas poses

1. Christmas Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

What? Christmas yoga doesn’t get more Christmassy than tree pose.

Why? “Vrksasana, or tree pose, cultivates balance, stability, and inner strength, mirroring the essence of the Christmas spirit,” explains yoga teacher and author of Teaching Body Positive Yoga, Donna Noble. “Imagine yourself standing tall and proud, like a Christmas tree, reaching towards the sky with open arms.”

This pose will improve your balance and flexibility, as well as grounding you through deep and steady breathing - a Christmas winner. 

How to: 

2. Candy cane pose

What? This pose gives a good stretch through the sides of the body – great for waking your limbs up after a snooze on the sofa.

Why? According to Merrick, this pose is great for creating a sense of elongation through the waist. As you reach up over your head, she suggests imagining it like a water fountain shooting up and over to the side.

Focussing on steady nose breathing while stretching allows the body and mind to relax and reset. Just the antidote for those hectic days in the run-up to Christmas. 

How to?

3. Rising star pose

What? A gorgeously deep bend into a rising stretch. Channel your inner child as you grow taller and reach for the stars. 

Why? Merrick suggests tuning into the breath as you feel connected to and grounded by the earth. With your hands in prayer position at your chest, you will feel a sense of calm as you rise up and balance on your tiptoes, reaching towards the sky and letting go of stresses and strains. 

How to?

4. Snowball pose

What? A calming posture that gives a gentle stretch through the back and hips.

Why? A variation on balasana or child's pose, snowball pose is a gentle position that allows you to bring attention to your forehead and the space between your eyebrows, where we can hold stress and tension. 

"Due to its gentle, restful nature, you can hold snowball pose for as long as you want," says Merrick. "Take some slow, deep breaths through the nose while you gently stretch the hips back towards the heels and rest."

How to:

5. Triangle pose

What? A traditional standing pose, triangle pose strengthens the legs and promotes balance and openness in the body. It's often included in yoga for flexibility round ups and for good reason.

Why? Triangle pose is a favourite for a reason. Great for both beginners and experienced yogis, the pose is believed to promote digestion and relieve anxiety. 

"Trikonasana promotes balance, flexibility, and gratitude, reminding us to appreciate our blessings," says Noble. "Align the body into a triangle pose, symbolising the star guiding the wise men."

How to: 

6. Santa's Sleigh Pose

What? Traditionally known as Dhanurasana or bow pose, Santa's sleigh is a more intense pose which might take a little practice. Be sure to practice a few warm up exercises first.

Why? Santa’s sleigh can help energise the body and mind – ideal for when your to-do list is outweighing your motivation.

A holistic, toning and strengthening position, Santa's sleigh opens up the shoulders and chest, perfect for counteracting hours hunched over those laptops doing last-minute Christmas shopping or frantically meeting work deadlines. 

How to:

7. Standing forward fold (Uttanasana)

What? Despite it's rather un-Christmassy moniker, this pose invites us to open our hearts and embrace the spirit of giving this season. 

Why? "This pose invites you to stretch forward, extending your arms towards the earth, symbolising the generosity and compassion associated with the holiday season," says Noble. 

Uttanasana is as much about the mind as the body, thought to promote calm, relieve stress and release tension and tightness. 

How to: 

8. Sleeping angel pose (savasana)

What? This pose promotes deep relaxation, inner peace, and a sense of tranquillity.

Why? As the festive season draws to a close, rest and digest with this restorative and intensely relaxing pose, allowing yourself to surrender to the calming embrace of Savasana. And if you fall asleep, so much the better. 

How to:

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Anna Bartter
Health Writer

Anna Bartter is a freelance journalist who writes about health, fitness and women's lifestyle for publications including Stylist, Metro and Psychologies, among others. 

She's always on a quest to find a variety of fun and functional workouts that give you the most bang for your workout buck and she's passionate about championing movement for everyone's mental and physical wellbeing.