On weekends I share a yoga pose related to the monthly theme. Keeping with the July theme of gratitude, this pose focuses on heart opening.
Humble Warrior (Baddha Virabhadrasana) stretches the chest, lungs and shoulders while strengthening the core and lower body. This pose can be very grounding if you focus awareness on the firm foundation of both feet planted on your yoga mat.
Start standing in Mountain Pose and step one foot back about 3 feet (1 meter). Turn the back foot to approximately a 45 degree angle keeping the hips square to the front of the mat. Bend your front knee and stack it directly above the ankle. Keep your back leg straight and both heels on the ground.
Interlace your hands behind the small of your back and roll your shoulder blades together. Simultaneously lift your collarbone and heart center towards the ceiling as you look up. On an exhale, keep your core engaged as you hinge at your hips lifting your arms up towards the ceiling and leaning forward.
Keep both arms active and engaged. You can unclasp the hands if it causes pain or discomfort, but the arms should continue to reach up and back. Continue to roll the shoulder blades together and stretch through the heart center. Keep both feet firmly planted on the yoga mat. Breathe in and out of the nose. Hold for 5-10 breaths and repeat on the opposite side.
On weekends I share a yoga pose related to the monthly theme. In July we’re focusing on gratitude so all of our yoga poses are heart opening.
Standing Forward Bend with Shoulder Opening is a calming asana that opens the chest and shoulders while stretching the hamstrings, calves and hips.
Start standing with feet hip distance or a little less apart. Interlace hands behind you near the small of your back. Roll your shoulder blades together and lift through your heart center. Turn your gaze upwards as you continue to lift through your collarbone and pull your hands down towards the floor.
Soften your knees and exhale as you hinge at your hips folding forward. Keep hands interlaced as you raise them towards the ceiling. Feel grounded as you keep both feet firmly planted. Bend knees more deeply if needed to protect your hamstrings. Breathe deeply in and out of your nose. Exhale through the mouth for a deeper release. Hold the stretch for 10 breaths.
On weekends I share a yoga pose related to the monthly theme. In July we’re focusing on gratitude, so our poses are heart opening.
Standing Supported Camel (Ustrasana) is an intense heart opening asana. This standing variation makes the pose more available to people of all levels.
Start standing with feet about hip distance or a little less apart. Make fists and place them on the low back on either side of your spine. Lengthen through your torso and lift your collarbone towards the ceiling as you look up. Continue to lift through your heart center and slowly lean back with eyes up. Feel your shoulder blades moving together in the middle of your back. Maintain a slight bend in the knees.
Find a place where you feel steady and supported. It’s important not to overdo it in this camel variation because it could cause dizziness. Be aware that you may feel pretty vulnerable after this pose, so counter by standing in mountain pose with palms together and thumbs pressing into your heart center.
On weekends I share a yoga pose related to the monthly theme. In July we’re focusing on gratitude, so our yoga poses will be heart opening.
Standing Backbend (Anuvittasana) is an energizing heart opener that stretches the front of the body, opens the chest and improves flexibility in the spine. I especially love backbends during allergy season to help provide a little relief from chest congestion.
Start with feet flat on the floor about hip distance apart. On an inhale raise your arms overheard and turn your gaze upward. Lengthen through the front of your body as you float your hips forward. Keep a slight bend in the knees. Feel your shoulder blades coming together in the middle of your back while lifting through your heart center at the same time.
Palms can either face each other or the front. Deepen the backbend by looking at the ceiling as your arms reach up and farther behind your body. If you experience any discomfort in your lower back, ease the backbend by bringing your body more upright and increase the lift through your chest and collarbone. Concentrate of lengthening through your spine and the front of your body to avoid compromising the low back.
You can modify by bending your elbows, keeping them level with shoulders and palms facing the front with fingers spread. Shoulder blades still move together to create a lift through the chest. Use this pose for a quick pick-me-up when you’re feeling sluggish or to find a nice stretch through the front of your body.
On weekends I share a yoga pose related to the monthly theme. In June we’re focusing on mindfulness, so all of our yoga poses are meditative and grounding.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) is a deeply restorative heart and hip opener. This pose produces a relaxing effect on the body and mind while stretching the groin, inner thighs and knees. You can use props to help find your comfortable expression. Start in Easy Seated Pose and place a bolster or pillows against the small of your back. Gently recline so that your spine is supported by the bolster/pillows. Allow your arms to fall to the sides of your body so that your shoulder blades move together, creating an opening through the heart center.
Bend the knees and bring the soles of the feet together to touch. Move the heels in closer towards the body for a more intense stretch. Move the heels farther out for less intensity. The hip stretch will intensify gradually as your body relaxes more from holding the stretch. Adjust as you need to feel comfortable.
You could also use a blanket or pillows to support your knees for a more restorative variation. Breathe deeply into any areas of tightness or tension and hold the pose for 1-5 minutes.
On weekends I share a yoga pose related to the monthly theme. In June we’re focusing on mindfulness, so all of our poses are meditative and grounding.
Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) provides a wonderful deep release for the low back and hip flexors. It’s probably my favorite way to use a yoga block during my personal practice.
Start laying on your back with knees bent and soles of your feet pressing into the floor. Make sure your yoga block is within reach. Walk your feet in as close as you can to your sit bones. Lift your hips toward the ceiling. Place a yoga block underneath your sacrum – the triangular bone at the base of your spine. The block could be used horizontally or vertically.
Relax and allow yourself to feel completely supported by the block. Adjust the block until you find a comfortable position and avoid placing it on your lower back. Close your eyes if you want to. Your arms can be beside your body with palms facing up, similar to savasana.
On weekends I share a yoga pose related to the monthly theme. In June we’re focusing on mindfulness, so our poses will be meditative and grounding.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana) is a very grounding and empowering pose. It helps you to feel strong and stable while observing your physical connection to the earth beneath you. Mountain pose is a good counter after practicing standing balance poses. It’s also a good choice to help bring you back into the present moment and calm down if you’re feeling anxious.
Start standing tall with your feet together. Feel the crown of your head moving up away from your tailbone. Roll your shoulder blades down your back and together, creating a slight lift through your chest and heart center. Feel the length in your neck muscles. Keep your chin neutral. Hands come together at heart center or arms can be by your side with hands 6-12 inches away from hips and palms facing forward.
Bring your awareness to both feet and press evenly into the balls and heels of the feet. Notice your solid foundation as you feel yourself getting a little bit taller, creating space between all of your joints. Soften the muscles in your face and close your eyes to draw your awareness back to the inside. Take several slow, deep breaths in and out of your nose.
On weekends I share a yoga pose related to the monthly theme. In June we’re focusing on mindfulness, so our poses are grounding and meditative.
Easy Seated Pose (Sukhasana) is a common meditation pose. All yoga poses (asanas) are actually a preparation of the body to be able to comfortably sit this way while practicing meditation. This pose is more challenging than it looks. It requires mindfulness to bring awareness to to your spine and break the habit of slouching.
Sit down with legs crossed. You can place a bolster, pillow or folded blanket under your seat to feel more comfortable. Lengthen your spine so the crown of your head is moving up towards the ceiling. Feel your sit bones pressing firmly into the earth. Roll the shoulder blades down your back and together, creating a slight lifting through the chest and heart center. Try to relax your legs.
Bring hands together at heart center or rest hands on the knees – palms facing up or down. Relax the muscles in your face. Feel the length in your neck muscles. Find a position where you feel stable and strong. Concentrate on keeping the length in your spine and the slight lift in your collarbone. Breath in and out of the nose. Happy meditating!
Every weekend I share a yoga pose related to the youryoga.tips monthly theme. In May we focused on natural remedies to help with anxiety, so all of our poses have been super calming.
Seated Forward Fold (Paschimottana) stretches the entire back of your body – from your shoulders all the way to your calves. Like pigeon pose, it’s a great counter for sitting hunched over a desk. It’s also a good pose to help relieve back pain. Plus, forward folds produce a calming effect on the nervous system. Some of my teacher clients use a variation of this pose to get their elementary school students to calm down.
Start seated with your legs extended in front of you. Feel your sit bones firmly connected to the floor or yoga mat. Prop a folded blanket under your seat if it feels more comfortable that way. Keep you legs active and ankles flexed so toes point to the ceiling. Try to keep your legs straight and connected to the floor for the entire stretch. On an inhale raise both arms over your head and keep your spine long.
Exhale hinging from your hips keeping your spine long and lead with your heart center towards your legs. When you’ve reached your limit relax your hands either beside or on top of the legs. Only reach for your ankles or feet if you’re able to do so without any pain and without bending your knees. Relax the weight of the head, but try not to collapse the shoulders and chest. Breathe into any areas that feel tight or tense. Use your exhale to help your body relax. Hold the stretch for at least one minute to get the most out of it. Remember to keep your body relaxed and use your exhale to help you gently relax deeper into the stretch as it becomes available to you. Take slow, deep breaths in and out of your nose. Exhale through the mouth for a deeper release.
Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana) is a variation that allows gravity to do some of the work for you. Start with both feet firmly planted on the floor or yoga mat about hip-distance apart. Inhale sweeping your arms up overhead and then fold forward allowing your arms to hang down towards the floor. Keep your knees soft – maybe it’s a slight bend or a deep bend depending on what feels comfortable for you. Allow the head to hang heavy and and let go of any tension in your neck, shoulders and upper back. Feel free to hold on to your elbows and sway gently from side to side. You could also gently turn the head back and forth if it feels good. Remember to breath in and out of your nose and allow your entire body to relax completely.
Forward folds not only stretch tight hamstrings, soothe back pain and calm the nervous system, but according to yogic philosophy they also help us to let go of things from the past that no longer serve us. Relax and enjoy!
Every weekend I share a yoga pose related to the youryoga.tips monthly theme. In May we’re focusing on natural ways to reduce anxiety, so all of our yoga poses will be super calming.
Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana) is another one of my favorite asanas. This yoga pose counters the effects of sitting all day by stretching your hip rotator and hip flexor in one move. It’s especially great for runners and cyclists. Yogic philosophy says that the hips are the place in the physical body where we store our pent up negative emotions. When we open the hips in poses like Pigeon, it feels good in the physical body, but can also give us a much needed emotional release.
If you’re new to Pigeon pose you may want to grab a yoga block, pillow or blanket to help you find your comfortable and stable position. Start in Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana). Inhale lifting the left leg up behind you into 3-Legged-Dog then bring your left knee towards the left wrist on an exhale. Extend the right leg onto your yoga mat resting on the top of the right foot. The left knee stays bent and the shin is resting on the yoga mat.
Bring your hands in line with the left knee. Come up onto your fingertips and lengthen your spine bringing your shoulder blades together lifting through your collarbone. Keep the spine long as you exhale melting down towards the yoga mat leading with your heart center. Start by resting on your forearms before going deeper. Use your fists, forearms or a yoga block to support your forehead. If it feels available you can exhale letting the chest melt a little deeper towards the left leg and yoga mat.
If your left hip feels too tight to allow you to relax in the pose, then try stacking a yoga block, blanket, pillow or bolster underneath it so you feel more supported. This is a relaxation pose. You should feel a stretch through your left buttocks, but it shouldn’t be painful. Experiment with the position of your arms and props under your forehead or hips to find the place where you feel comfortable, stable and supported. If you crave a deeper stretch, then move the left foot towards the upper right corner of your yoga mat.
Be gentle with yourself. Hold for 1-2 minutes and then repeat on the other side. Remember that both sides of your body are different, so the expression won’t always be the same. Make any necessary adjustments to feel comfortable. Relax and enjoy the release!