Holiday Workouts with Bonus Relaxation

Need to get some oxygen moving through your body?! Need to do something – anything! – to help you step away from the cookie plate? Here are two holiday-themed workouts from Christmases past – and in a nod to the Healing Experiment, a pretty badass relaxation exercise you can do anytime to help yourself remain centered and feel the joy of the season (or at least keep you from screaming like a crazy person for a few minutes).

Jingle Balls & Reindeer Games
Two short workouts that you should be able to knock it out in about 45 minutes, including warm-up. Scaleable to all fitness levels, and the only equipment you need is a kickball or medicine ball.

12 Days of CrossFit Christmas Chipper

Do-able with some dumbbells and/or a kettlebell, this one is a bit longer and kinda gets you all over. Dave and I did it in silly costumes one year, and it took about 16 minutes, so you know it’s not too bad.

Chill the F Out

If you read this script once or twice, you’ll know enough to guide yourself through this relaxation exercise. The order of body parts and the exact language isn’t important. What’s key is focusing on your breath and using your imagination to systematically relax all of your muscles. I turn to this exercise when I can’t sleep or when I realize I’m morphing into a stress ball. If you have trouble talking yourself through it in real time, you can make a recording of the script, then play it back yourself. Nerdy? Sure. Effective. Definitely!

Get situated:
Find a quiet spot where you can lie down, uninterrupted. I like the floor, but a bed or couch is OK, too. Now is not the time to be picky. Pillows under your head are also a personal preference; you might also like one behind your knees.

Lie on your back with eyes closed, arms a comfortable distance away from your body with palms facing up, legs comfortably apart with feet gently falling naturally toward the outside of your body mid-line.

Here we go:
Quiet your body, and imagine that your limbs and torso are getting heavy. Imagine your skin heavy against your muscles, your muscles heavy against your bones, your eyes heavy in their sockets.

Now turn your focus to your breath. Inhale through your nose for a count of four, then exhale through your nose for a count of eight. Repeat a few times, and when the rhythm feels natural and unforced, turn your attention to your rib cage. Envision your torso gently expanding on the inhale and contracting on the exhale. It’s all seamless and easy and smooth…

Feel yourself sink into the floor as your breath relaxes your body, making every inch of your limbs heavy with relaxation.

Now imagine a warm, gentle sun shining on you. It provides heat but it’s not bright, so your eyelids stay relaxed. Feel the sun easing the tension from your face. Relax your eyebrows… your jaw… your neck… your tongue inside your mouth. Continue the rhythmic breathing and feel your head grow heavy.

Now the sun begins to move across your body. Visualize each body part as the sun warms the muscles…

The sun moves to your chest. Your shoulders relax into the floor as your chest expands and contracts with your breath. Your ribcage and abdominal muscles are relaxed. Your torso feels heavy and sinks gently into the floor.

The sun moves to your left arm, and its warmth radiates from your shoulder to your elbow… to your wrist… to your hand. Your arm is heavy and relaxed. Now the sun moves over your right arm: shoulder, elbow, wrist, and hand. Your right arm sinks into the floor.

Now the sun moves to your waist and hips. Your muscles relax further and continue to feel heavy. The warmth moves from your left hip… to your left knee… your left calf… your left ankle… you left foot… slowly relaxing each muscle group.

Then the right hip… right knee… right calf… right ankle… right foot. Your whole body is now relaxed and quiet. Your limbs feel both heavy and weightless.

Return your focus slowly to your breathing: in for a count of four, out for a count of eight. Imagine your torso gently, slowly, effortlessly expanding and contracting. Remain in this state, breathing and relaxed for as long as you need to. When you’re ready to return to the rest of the world, keep your eyes closed and slowly wiggle your fingers and toes. Bring your hands together in front of your heart and rub the palms together to generate some heat. Place your cupped hands over your eyes and slowly open your eyes inside your hands to feel the warmth and gently re-engage with light.

When you’re ready, roll onto your right side and use your arms to press up to a sitting position. Aaaaahhhhh.

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