Got five minutes? Try these simple stretches at work to help relieve discomfort.

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If you are among the 80% of the population that sit for 8+ hours a day, then this post is for you. I bet your back is sore, shoulders are tight and you often have aching hips. Whatever your complaint might be, it most likely leads back to sitting for way too long. We are a society that loves to sit. You sit in your car on the way to work, then you sit in your chair at work, find a seat at lunch, sit more in the afternoon and then get home and sit in front of the TV or computer. My back aches just thinking about it. 

It's hard to combat sitting when a good part of your day is working in an office. The key is to stretch while sitting, so your muscles have room to move and feel less tight. Angie Michelle has picked her top 5 sitting stretches that can be done at the office or home. The key is to do them often and repeat. Your back will thank you!

Chair Forward Fold

Begin by pushing your chair away so that there is enough room for your upper body to fold over. Firmly plant your feet on the ground, grab a hold of the chair on the sides just below the thighs, inhale lifting up and exhale folding forward with a flat back. When you cannot move any closer with a flat back, round forward and relax the head down bringing the hands to the floor or to your legs. Release any tension in the head or neck and relax here as long as you need to. When you feel ready, simply roll the body by up and repeat as necessary.

Chair Twist

Begin by facing forward and sitting up tall. Roll the shoulders back once or twice and find a comfortable upright position. Take a deep inhale and as you are exhaling, twist to the left bringing the left arm around the back of the chair and right hand reaches just below the left thigh. Actively roll the left shoulder back and down while expanding the spine towards the ceiling and hold here while breathing. Untwist and repeat on the other side. 

Sitting Eagle

Sitting up tall, stretch both arms out horizontally beside you. Swing the left arm underneath right and then begin to wrap the forearms around. If this is not possible, you can always grab for the shoulders. If your arms are wrapped, be sure to keep the elbows in the same line as shoulders. Feel the expansion in the shoulders and the back and begin to breathe deeply. Hold for as long as you like and repeat on the other side. 

Forward Fold 

Bring your feet hip width apart facing your chair. Bend over and grab the edges and slowly wheel the chair away from you. If you don't have wheels on your chair you can walk the feet back instead. This is a great substitute for Downward Dog at the office and will help take the pressure off of the lower back and stretch out tight hamstrings. 

Thread The Needle Chair

Sitting in your chair, begin to bring the left leg across the right thigh. Keeping the left foot flexed, slowly lower the chest towards the legs. Option to grab underneath the chair or desk in front of you. Hold for as long as you want while breathing. Lift the chest back up and repeat on the other side. 

Images by Instinct Photography

Ditch the Holiday Stress & Anxiety With Yoga

It's beginning to look a lot like...

STRESS.

I remember being a kid during Christmas and it was the most wonderful time of year. Leading up to the special day I would indulge in holiday treats, turkey dinners and sing Christmas carols. I had no idea the amount of work and stress my parents took on to create such a magical experience for my family. Fast forward to adulthood and it looks a little bit different..

The holidays are known for high stress. Every year it seems like once December hits, it's panic mode. Tasks begin to pile up on your to do list and your health takes the backseat. There is always so much to do and see during the holidays that it's hard to find a balance. Keeping up with your practice during these high stress times is more important than ever and even just dedicating an hour or two a week can make a huge difference in your overall well being. By doing this, you begin to actually enjoy this time of year rather than waiting for it to be over.

This year give yourself the gift of well-being, patience and health. We have classes throughout the holiday season to help keep that zen all winter long. 

Happy Holidays from all of us at Yoga Yourself!

 

Try Ditching the Coffee For These 5 Morning Yoga Poses!

Mornings. Some people love them, some people...not so much. If your morning routine consists of walking to the coffee machine with eyes half open and turning it on, this post is for you. Our lovely Mikayla has gathered her top 5 poses for waking up the body. Why wait until after work to dive into your yoga routine? When you practice yoga first thing in the morning, it sets the tone for the rest of the day. You wake the body up slowly and are able to clear that early morning fog sooner and will actually look forward to the rest of your day. Good Morning!

Parsva Tadasana

This pose is a great way to start your day on the right foot! When you get out of bed, plant your feet firmly on the ground and stand up tall. As you inhale, lengthen your spine as you reach your hands up and interlace your fingers with your palms facing the ceiling. As you exhale, begin to lean over to one side. Gently switching between sides and you can repeat this as much as you want and even hold on each side for a few breathes.

Downward Dog

Once you have finished with Parsva Tadasana, its time for a few sun salutations to make your way into Downward Dog. I like to start my day off with two or three. Moving from cobra, bending at the knees, make your way into Downward Dog. Remember to keep your feet hip width apart with a gentle bend in the knees if your heels aren't touching the ground and imagine expanding your shoulders. You can spread your fingers wide and even give a bend in the elbows if your having trouble making that upside down V shape. Hold here for a few breathes. To come out, bend both knees, look to the hands and walk or hop to meet them.

Tree Pose

Tree pose is a great way to find your balance first thing in the morning. Be easy on yourself, sometimes it's hard to balance after just waking up. Begin to balance on your left foot by grounding down the toes into the mat. As you lift your right foot, first place it just by the left ankle to see where you are at. If you feel stable, begin to lift the foot placing it somewhere on the left leg, avoiding the knee, and reach the arms straight up to the ceiling. Once you reach the pose, if you find that you are sinking into the left hip, pull up from the right to create a straight line. Hold here for 3-5 breathes. You can bring your hands into prayer to the chest and hold for another 2-3 breathes and then release and repeat on the other side.

Utthita Ashwa Sanchalanasana

This pose is a great way to warm the legs up and get the blood flowing in the morning. Moving from Downward Dog, inhale your left leg straight back and swing through the left foot all the way to meet your hands at the top of the mat. Begin to ground down with the front foot and slowly lift the arms all the way up to the ceiling. Try to imagine moving in slow motion so that your legs can engage and build strength. Once your arms reach the ceiling, exhale deeper into the left leg by bending the knee and keeping the back heel up. Bring awareness to the front leg also by using the inner thigh muscles to turn the knee out. Breathe here for 5 rounds and slowly bring the hands down to the mat and step back in Downward Dog. Repeat on the other side.

 

Upward Bow (Wheel) Pose

Only attempt wheel if you have properly warmed the back up. Lying on the floor, bend your knees up so that the sole's of the feet are connected to the mat as close to the sit bones as possible. Bend your arms and bring your hands to the floor by your head with your fingertips pointing towards your shoulders. Begin to root down through the feet and and as you exhale, engage the buttocks and begin to lift the hips, keeping the feet parallel. Once hips are lifted, begin to root down through the palms of the hands also, lifting the crown of the head to the floor. You can stay here or begin to move into full wheel by stretching the arms and lifting the hips higher, grounding down with the hands and feet, expanding the shoulders. Hold here for 3-5 breathes and then slowly come back down in reverse, gently rolling the back down and pausing lying on the ground. Repeat 1-3 times.

Join Mikayla for Yin Yoga on Friday mornings at 9 and 10:30 am.

 

 

Alleviate Anxiety & Panic With Our Top 5 Yoga Poses

Have you ever been overcome with a feeling of panic and worry and you don't know why? Or maybe sometimes you just feel uneasy and can't shake it? 

Anxiety can come in all different forms. Dependent on who you are, your history and the situation. Some people suffer their whole lives with anxiety and others have it creep up on them later in life. No matter what the situation, anxiety can be crippling and you shouldn't have to just "deal" with it. There are so many yoga poses that can help stop anxiety dead in it's tracks and will help you live a happier, worry-free life. Join Hannah for her top 5 favourites poses to beat anxiety! 

Sukhasana (Easy Pose) 

Sukhasana may seem easy but it takes a lot of focus and concentration to complete it. Often times, the easiest looking poses are the hardest because you have to look inwards and turn off the mind. Sukhasana is perfect for any moment of the day when you need to reconnect with yourself and practice letting go.

As you find a comfortable seat, cross your legs and rest your hands to your knees. Sit up tall, lengthening the spine and close your eyes. Allow yourself to focus on the breathe. As you inhale, picture your ribcage and lungs expanding in all directions and as your exhale let out a sigh through the mouth. Sit in this pose until you feel like your heart rate has slowed down and your body begins to relax. 

Balasana (Child's Pose)

Also known as "Child's Pose", this pose can be very relaxing and is used in most practices as a safe space to come to. Come to a kneel sitting on the feet and bring both knees mat width apart. As you exhale, bring the chest to the floor in between the legs and extend the arms straight out in front. As you connect your forehead to the mat, feel the body surrender to the pose. This is a very safe pose for beginners and you can stay here as long as you'd like. Breathe deeply. 

Matsyasana (Fish Pose)

This pose is a bit more advanced and will require some practice for beginner students. Do not attempt by yourself if you have serious back issues. 

Begin by lying on your back (option to have your knees bent) and as you inhale, lift your buttocks off the ground and slide your palms underneath. Allow the buttocks to come down and rest on the hands while tucking the arms and elbows in close to the body. Pressing the forearms and elbows into the floor as your inhale, lift your upper torso and head away from the floor very slowly. Avoid crunching the neck and make sure you only have a small amount of pressure with the connection of the head to floor. Stay here for 3-5 breathes and slowly come out of the pose by bringing the back down and releasing the arms from underneath. 

Ustrasana (Camel)

Camel pose is an incredible pose for the entire body and mind. It strengthens the legs, stomach and opens up the shoulders and chest. Begin by kneeling on the ground sitting up tall. You have the option of feet flat or tucked, depending if you're going for full Camel (flat) or modified (tucked). Bring the hands behind and place on your lower back, as you begin to push the hips forward (never farther than the knees) melt the chest and heart backwards, looking up to the ceiling. You can stay here or grab for the heels for full Camel. Hold the pose for 5-7 breaths and then slowly moving in the reverse bringing the head back to center, sit down on the heels and hands to prayer while closing the eyes.

This pose is notorious for stirring up emotions and feelings, so if you feel dizzy or overwhelmed after just take a moment to come back to your center and relax. 

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Supta Virasana

Supta Virasana (Reclining Hero Pose) is an intermediate pose. Do not perform if you are not able to get your buttocks on the floor between the feet. You can also use a blanket underneath the back to help support as your lay back. 

Begin by sitting up tall with the buttocks between the legs. Bring the hands behind, firmly placing them on the ground. As you exhale, start to lean the back torso towards the floor, coming down onto the forearms and elbows. Pause here, breathe. If you can go further back, slowly bring the arms flat and lay the back on the floor or blanket. Lift your arms up and over your head if it feels ok and begin to pull the ribcage in if it's darted out. Allow yourself to stay here for 5-7 full breaths. Moving in reverse, slowly come back up to Virasana. Breathe.

Join Hannah for Hatha Flow on Monday and Wednesday nights at 6:00 pm