Feel that? That half-crazed, half-hungry feeling? That's the holidays soaking into your veins. It's the smell of turkey mixed with feelings of doom. It's stress all wrapped up and tied with a bow. And womp, womp: it's the holidays and you don't have time to head to the gym for a few hours when there's a turkey in the oven and in-laws loose in the kitchen.
But with a little gumption, you can bring the gym to you — more specifically, to your floor. Thanks to the iRobot Roomba, it's no longer a nightmarish place covered in crusty, week-old cranberry sauce and pet hair. Instead, it's a place where you can really let go of stress. It's always clean and mess-free, which means you won't have any reservations about popping a literal squat right on your shiny living room floor. Here are four quick workouts to get you in shape without extra equipment or travel, restoring both your confidence and peace of mind without meditating in mess.
Become a Poser
Practicing yoga will not only help you stay in shape, it'll also promote a calm and collected head space, reducing shopping-induced stress. Simple, seated poses will help you relax, while standing ones will keep you calm but energized for that marathon cooking session lurking in your future. A simple sun salutation is a good sequence that includes all types of poses for beginners or experts.
- Begin at the top of your mat with your hands at your side and your feet on the floor with your big toes touching one another. This is known as tadasana, or mountain pose.
- Move your arms to the side and touch your palms together over your head in urdhva hastasana, or raised arm pose.
- Look toward your hands and pull your shoulders away from your ears. Bring your arms to your side and bend over your legs. This is called forward bend, or uttanasana.
- Flatten your hands on the ground, or place them on your legs if you can't reach. Lift your head and flatten your back to come into flat back — ardha uttanasana.
- Bring your hands to the floor or place them on your legs. Then, move down into forward bend. Bring your right foot to the back of the mat and come onto your fingertips to enter a lunge. Bring your left foot to meet your right foot behind you and come into a plank position. You should be in a straight line from head to toe.
- Drop your knees, chest, and chin while keeping your butt high and holding your elbows to your side. Bring your head forward to come into a low cobra.
- From cobra, push your body back into downward facing dog. This is a good spot to catch your breath before moving back into a lunge — bring your right foot to the front of your mat next to your right hand.
- To finish the sequence, bring your left hand to meet the right, come into a forward bend, lift your arms up, and reverse swan dive into urdhva hastasana. Finish the sequence off by returning your hands to your heart.
Get Your Head in the Game
For a more challenging practice, flip it and reverse it with some inversions. Getting your heart higher than your head provides a number of health benefits, including increased circulation (perfect for chilly winter days), increased immunity, and improved mood. It's not all headstands and handstands either. Anyone can do an inversion, no matter what their ability.
- First, warm up with plow pose. Lie face-up on your mat and swing your legs over your head to the floor behind you.
- Come into a shoulder stand by bending your elbows and placing your hands on your lower back.
- Bring your feet to the air, so your heels, knees, hips, and shoulders are in line. Pull your knees to either side of your head to come into Karnapidasana. (Don't worry if your knees don't actually reach the floor).
- Move into fish pose by rolling onto your back, arching it, and placing your forearms and elbows on the ground. Lift your head back so your crown hits the floor.
Don't want to go through all that? If you just want to take a quick break from holiday chaos, cool down by simply putting your legs up the wall for an inversion that's more relaxing than physically demanding.
Kick It Up a Notch
Want a more intense routine but don't want to head to the gym? Sweat out the stress with a cardio workout at home. Raising your heart rate can reduce stress-induced damage to the brain by producing neurohormones that can elevate your mood. That will come in handy when you're elbow-deep in turkey gravy with no end in sight.
- Warm up by marching in place, stretching, or jumping rope. If you don't have a jump rope, an imaginary one will do.
- Start your workout with a combination of exercises at varying reps and times. Try jumping jacks, squats, marching in place, push-ups, and lunges on your floor to get that heart rate up.
- For a more intense workout, combine jumps, squats, planks, and push-ups into one mega-exercise known as a burpee.
- You can also utilize your stairs by running up and down as many times as you can. At the end of your workout, don't forget to cool down with stretches. You'll increase blood flow to your muscles, improve your flexibility, and decrease the risk of injury.
No matter what method you choose, remember to relax. The holidays are a time to celebrate togetherness and good food. With the above floor-based exercises and your iRobot Roomba, you'll have the mental and physical tools to deal with all the pitfalls of tumultuous family gatherings that come your way.
Nandita Raghuram is a freelance journalist living in Brooklyn.