Peaceful Poses: A Guide to Holiday-Themed Yoga Classes

Merry young man 20s wear red warm knitted sweater Santa hat posing spread hands in yoga om aum gesture New Year 2023 holiday celebration concept, Holiday yoga.

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Immerse yourself in the festive spirit with holiday yoga! Discover the secrets to crafting joy-infused classes that bring balance and serenity to your practice in this article. Explore themed sequences, creative poses, and heartfelt themes, making your yoga journey a celebration of the season.

Holiday yoga offers extra cheer to your usual practice. What exactly is it and how is it different from a typical yoga class? Holiday yoga is any yoga practice that breaks up the busy winter season. But when we use the term in this article, we’re referring to a holiday-themed yoga practice that invites us to rest while promoting holiday cheer. 

This article serves as a roadmap for creating holiday-themed classes, including insights and tips for crafting creative classes. You don’t need anything special to practice or teach holiday yoga, but some festive decor and a healthy dose of imaginative sequencing never hurts!  

Why Practice Holiday Yoga? Here Are the Benefits

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The holidays are often seen as a time of stress rather than one of tranquility, but it doesn’t have to be that way! Practicing holiday yoga provides many benefits, serving as an antidote to the stress and the hustle and bustle of the holiday season. It’s often during these times that we want to do more, push ourselves harder, reach all our deadlines, and wrap all our presents when what we really need is to slow down. A restful holiday yoga class allows us to do just that. 

By offering your students a holiday-themed yoga class or bringing wintry elements into your home practice, you can practice joy and introspection while prioritizing well-being amidst the year-end festivities. Slowing down can also reduce mental fog and improve emotional resilience while practicing self-care. For yoga teachers, weaving holiday themes into classes is more than a novel twist—it’s a chance to deepen community connections during a time of celebration. Our unique role as yoga teachers is to guide students to serenity and balance during a time that is both joyful and overwhelming.   

Class Themes for Holiday-Themed Yoga

Incorporating themes in your yoga classes is one of the best ways to celebrate the natural world in all its seasons. During the holidays, this can mean guiding students through poses and meditations that resonate with themes of introspection, gratitude, and new beginnings. Holiday-themed yoga poses and classes offer a meaningful and joyous experience, blending the practice with seasonal festivities. The structure of your class should reflect the chosen theme. Below are a few examples of themes you can use in your holiday classes:

Holiday Yoga Theme # 1: Winter Solstice Celebration

Restorative yoga with a bolster. Group of three young sporty attractive women in yoga studio, lying on bolster cushion, stretching and relaxing during restorative yoga. Healthy lifestyle and a great way to practice a restful pose at the holiday season.

As the shortest day of the year, the Winter Solstice is a time of introspection and renewal. Yoga classes themed around this day can focus on inner light and rebirth, incorporating poses that embody grounding and rejuvenation. Soft, instrumental music can set a tranquil mood for restful wintry evening classes. 

Additionally, in a winter solstice-themed class, you may choose to begin with stillness that flows into slow, gentle movement. You can also evoke the quiet of the season by incorporating restorative yoga into the final portion of the class. Finally, you can call in the serene beauty of winter weather with a guided visualization of a snowy landscape to close the practice.

This practice can be enhanced by elements of warmth and light to contrast the stillness and darkness of the season. For example, for nighttime classes, you can string fairy lights or place battery-operated candles around the yoga space. Following the yoga practice, you may also share conversation over warm herbal tea. These elements ensure that the festive spirit is infused into the practice, creating a memorable and impactful experience.

Holiday Yoga Theme # 2: Holiday Gratitude Yoga

Restorative yoga with a bolster. Group of three young sporty attractive women in yoga studio, lying on bolster cushion, stretching and relaxing during restorative yoga. Healthy lifestyle and a great way to practice a restful pose at the holiday season.

In a holiday gratitude-themed class, you can create an atmosphere of appreciation by incorporating gentle, heart-opening poses like Camel Pose (Ustrasana) and Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana). You may also integrate partner poses into the class to foster a sense of community. Throughout the active portion of the class, you may encourage your students to reflect on what they are grateful for during the holiday season. 

This practice can close with a gratitude meditation, in which you guide them through a lovingkindness meditation or ask them to reflect on the abundance in their lives. If it feels appropriate for your community, you can also close this class with holiday-themed gratitude journaling or exchanges of small gifts between students.

Holiday Yoga Theme # 3: New Year, New Intentions

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The New Year is synonymous with new beginnings and resolutions. Yoga classes during this time can guide students to set their intentions for the year, integrating goal-setting meditations and holiday yoga poses that symbolize opening to new possibilities. 

This class could be centered around a more active, heart-opening practice to welcome the new year and an extended guided meditation to help students set their intentions. To add a fun holiday twist, you can make individual or community vision boards following the practice. 

Each of these thematic classes offers students not just a physical practice but a holistic experience that honors the spirit of the holiday season, aiding in their emotional and spiritual journey during this special time of year.

Holiday Yoga Poses

Practicing a Ustrasana or Camel Pose variation in yoga class.

In addition to choosing themes symbolic of the holiday season, you can weave fun holiday variations of yoga postures into your classes. These holiday poses enhance the physical benefits of yoga while also embodying the spirit of the season. Here are a few examples of playful, festive postures that you can include in any of the themed classes outlined above: 

  1. Breath of Joy

    This energizing pranayama (breathwork) technique is sure to bring a healthy dose of joy to the yoga class. To practice, come to kneeling, and on an inhalation, reach your arms high overhead. As you exhale, hug your arms across your chest, and as if coming into Child’s Pose (Balasana), fold into yourself. Repeat for about 10 breaths before pausing in Child’s Pose.

  2. Star Yoga Pose

    Star Pose (Utthita Tadasana) is a variation of Mountain Pose (Tadasana) that is a true wintertime favorite. To practice, begin in Mountain Pose, and step your feet out wide. Reach your arms out to a T to form the shape of a five-pointed star. For family yoga classes, this is also a fun posture to have kids count the five points of their star and wiggle their fingers to “twinkle” their star. For all ages, this pose symbolizes the joy and radiance of the festive season.

  3. Christmas Tree Pose

    This festive variation of Tree Pose (Vrksasana) brings the imagery of a Christmas tree into the practice. Like the Tree Pose we all know and love, this pose promotes balance and stability. To practice, start in Mountain Pose, then transfer your weight to your right foot. Bring your left foot to touch your right ankle or thigh. Then, bring your hands in prayer above your head to create the point of the Christmas tree. Balance here for about 10 seconds before switching to the second side. Practicing this pose can help bring a sense of grounding during the bustling holiday period, offering a moment of stillness and inner strength.

  4. Skier Chair Pose

    This variation of Chair Pose (Utkatasana) is a dynamic pose that fires up the thighs, generating warmth within the body. To practice Skier Chair Pose, begin in Mountain Pose, then bend your knees to lower yourself into an imaginary seat. Instead of reaching your arms overhead to mimic the shape of a downhill skier, draw your arms alongside your torso with your palms facing down toward the earth. The internal heat generated from this posture is particularly welcome during the cold days, making it a fitting addition to a fiery winter yoga sequence.

  5. Snow Angel 

    As a sweet treat to finish your yoga practice, you can incorporate Snow Angel into your practice. This is not necessarily a posture but a movement to relax and soften the arms and shoulders. Practice this by lying on your mat in Savasana (Final Relaxation Pose), then extend your arms overhead. Keep your arms grounded on the earth and allow them to float open and closed several times before finally releasing them alongside your body for rest. 

Incorporating these poses into a yoga class not only brings a festive touch but also offers practical benefits like stress relief and physical strength, both of which are much needed during the holidays. Adapting these poses can make them accessible to all levels. For instance, Tree Pose can be modified by keeping the toes on the ground for balance. Always emphasize safety, encouraging practitioners to listen to their bodies and use props when needed. By including these poses, we can craft an experience that captures the essence of the holidays while catering to the well-being of our students.

A Final Note on Crafting Holiday-Themed Yoga Sequences for Balance and Joy

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Holiday yoga adds a delightful twist to your regular practice, offering rest and joy amidst the quick pace of the winter season. This article has provided a comprehensive guide to crafting holiday-themed classes, emphasizing the numerous benefits of slowing down during this time. 

By incorporating themes such as winter solstice celebration, holiday gratitude yoga, and New Year’s intentions, yoga practitioners and teachers can create a holistic experience that resonates with the spirit of the holidays. Whether you’re a yoga enthusiast seeking a peaceful escape or a teacher aiming to deepen connections with your students, holiday yoga offers a meaningful path to balance, serenity, and celebration. Happy holidays, and may your yoga practice be joyful!

Lacey Ramirez

Lacey Ramirez writes for YogaUOnline and is an ERYT-200 yoga teacher, global health researcher, and writer based in St. Louis. Through her work, she seeks to make yoga accessible, inclusive, and equitable.

Lacey discovered yoga as a tool for centering during her years as a competitive runner. Since then, yoga has served as a way to connect with her body throughout her experience of pregnancy and parenthood. She teaches because she hopes others can use this sacred practice for calming, healing, and transformation.

As a yoga teacher, Lacey specializes in teaching restorative, Yin, prenatal, and trauma-informed Vinyasa yoga. She has also completed birth doula and prenatal/postnatal barre certifications and trainings. Additionally, she holds a Masters of Science in Global Health and Population from Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. To learn more and connect, visit her website laceyramirez.com 

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