Yoga for a Stressful Day | Short Routine | Easy Yoga

I know, I know. I said I wouldn’t post the routines here, but I realized it takes no time to post them. So you get the videos, but I’m too lazy to type out the whole routine.

I’ve been having a jam packed week, and there surely have to be other people out there who are suffering as well! Let’s take a few minutes to work it out.

Chair Yoga – 15 minutes

Whether you’re unable to sit on the floor, or just don’t want to get on the floor, here’s some easy chair Yoga! This routine is perfect for total novices with limitations, or an office worker who needs a quick break! (Or anyone, want to try chair Yoga? You can!)

Requirements: A chair or couch.

Rather than over and over saying that each pose is a “modified X pose”, I’m telling you now. All the poses are based on other yoga poses, which are typically done standing or on the ground. So put away your mat and sit down!

Chair Yoga

Seated relaxation: Of course we need to start with a little seated breathing. This is a good moment to check in with yourself, especially if you’re unfamiliar with chair Yoga. I sit pretty far forward on the chair, this forces me to use my core to sit up straight. If you can’t do that, or ever get tired during the practice, feel free to scoot back and use the back rest as support. Try to maintain straight, upright posture if you do use the backrest.
Your feet should be about hip width apart, and you want your hips, knees, and ankles all at 90 degree angles. If you have any hip or knee injuries, it may be more comfortable to put your feet farther away and let your knees create a larger angle.

Point and flex feet: Straighten your right leg and either keep your heel on the ground, or raise your foot off the floor. If you’re looking to work on strength, lifting your foot off the ground will be more work. Point and flex your right foot then switch legs. Point and flex the same amount on each side.

Ankle circles: This is the same set up as the previous pose. Straight leg, lifted or heel on the ground. If you want more of a work out, lift both legs and draw circles with both of your feet simultaneously instead of one at a time.

Cat/Cow: Keep your feet flat on the ground with your knees bent. If you know how to do Cat pose on all-fours, this is the same thing, only seated. Hollow out your stomach, round your back let your chin drop to your chest. Hang out here for a moment before leading with your nose and drawing an arc for your spine to follow. Now your back is arched and you can look up slightly. Go back and forth between these two. You can do them with your breath, or hold each side for a moment.

Forward fold: Straighten you legs in front of you, keep your heels on the ground here. Flex both your feet, then fold forward. This is a great hamstring stretch. If you have super tight hamstrings, this version can be nice too, so you can focus more on relaxing and stretching, than using your muscles and struggling through a standing or seated version.

Side stretch: Plant your right hand on the right side of your seat. If you can grasp the side of your seat with your fingers, avoid griping it super tightly. With your left palmed turned out at your side, bring it up and over head from the side and lean to the right. Push into your right hand to come out, then switch sides!

Seated twist: Plant your right hand on the left side of your seat. If you can grasp the side of your seat with your fingers, avoid griping it super tightly. Now hold the back of your chair with your left hand, or push into the back. Use these two hands to help your body twist to the left. Turn your head to look over your left shoulder. Once in this pose, you may find you can place your left hand on the right side of the back of your chair. (If you’re on a could, just place your hand flat on the back and use it to support and push into your twist.) When you’re ready to release, start with our head and come back to a neutral position. Switch sides!

Arms straight up: Bring your arms and hands up straight in front of your shoulders with your palms facing. Interlace your fingers, and turn your palms out. Raise your hands up and overhead. If this is a strain on your shoulders, you can add a slight bend to your elbows, or come out of this slightly. You can create a slight back bend in this pose as well by tilting back slightly and looking up. When you’re ready, release your fingers and let them float down your sides. If you’d like, interlace your fingers the opposite way and doing it again! For most people, interlacing your fingers the opposite way will feel very strange.

Knee to chest (Wind relieving pose): Lift your right foot off the ground, and bring it into your right chest. You can wrap your arms around your right shin, back of your right thigh, or use a strap in either place. People who are stiff or curvier may prefer to use a strap, but maybe not!

Thread the needle: Lift your right foot off the ground and cross your right ankle over the top of your left thigh/knee. This is a pretty common position for some people to sit in. You may feel a stretch here on the outside of your right hip. If you feel like it, lean forward, first with a flight back, then relax forward. Your arms can be nice and relaxed in this pose. I recommend keeping your feet flexed in this pose to protect your knees. And switch side!

Child’s pose (W/ pillow): This is pretty simple. With your feet flat on the ground, a la our starting position, lean forward and let your body rest on your thighs. If you don’t feel comfortable like that, place a pillow or two (or three?) on your thighs an lean on those! In fact, do that even if you’re super bendy and can lay your torso on your thighs. It’s wonderful.

Seated Savasana: Remove that pillow and place it behind you, lean back, and let your feet move father away from you. Relax your feet and let them flop to the sides. Try to avoid slouching your back in our seated savasana. If you have a bed, clean floor, or couch, why not lie down completely?

Yum! I loved this routine. It’s so short, simple, sweet, and lazy. Kind of like me…minus short, simple, and sweet.

Namaste!

Yoga for a Bad Day – 15min Practice

Today we’re keeping it fun and easy. I came up with this routine on the spot one day when I was feeling really bad. That general bummed out feel can really stick with you, and it’s hard to shake off, so I created this to help us relax, smile, and maybe laugh a little.

I encourage you to insert your own poses into this practice, especially poses which you love doing. This practice isn’t about perfecting your downward facing dog, it is 100% about feeling better. So do what you need to do to feel better.

I’ll purposefully keep instructions to a minimum today so that you can find your own practice within this one. I also encourage doing this practice in a bed for that extra level of comfort.

Yoga for a Bad Day 

Seated Breathing: Sit however you’d like. This is your moment to focus in and relax. Take some really deep breaths, maybe even sigh if it feels good. Smile a little and move around. There is no need to sit completely motionless and still. If it helps, imagine blowing your stresses away. You can also picture them rolling off of your body. Close your eyes in this pose and take your time.

Neck circles: Draw smooth and slow circles with your nose. Try to do the same amount in both directions. Keep them small and sweet. We’re just working out the kinks, you don’t need to push your limits.

Seated Cat variation: If you know how to do Cat pose on all-fours, this is the same thing, only seated. Hollow out your stomach, round your back let your chin drop to your chest. Hang out here for a moment before leading with your nose and drawing an arc for your spine to follow. Now your back is arched and you can look up slightly. Go back and forth between these two. You can do them with your breath, or hold each side for a moment.

Shoulder stretch: Drop your right hand and arm. let them dangle very loose. To discourage myself from putting weight on my right palm, I keep the back of my right hand on my mat behind me. Weave your left hand and forearm behind you and hold onto the inside of your right elbow. Now drop your left ear to your left shoulder. Your left hand here can act as a weight and intensify the stretch. If you don’t like it, you can relax your hands in your lap or wherever you’d like. Move your head around. Turn to look up slightly and down. This can help you target tight spots. Switch sides!

Cobbler’s Pose: Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall out to the sides. Have fun here and rock side to side, or make small pulses forward. We’re trying to loosen any tension in the hips and inner thighs, but this pose is an opportunity to have fun as well.

Seated Knees to Chest: Still seated on the floor, bring your knees into your chest. Now give your legs a big hug. You’re hugging yourself here. Rock side-to-side, front-to-back, or simply remain still. It can honestly feel good to give yourself a little bit of love. That’s all this pose is about. When you are ready, slowly roll onto your back, perhaps you’d like to back out of this pose a little bit before doing so.

Knees to Chest Pose: Once again draw your knees in toward your chest. Rock on your back and give yourself a nice little back massage. Place your hands on the tops of your knees and draw big circles with them. Have fun, move, breath, and smile.

Ankle rolls: If you’d like to remain in the position above, that’s absolutely an option. I like to do this as if I’m sitting in a chair that has fallen on it’s back. So my thighs are straight up and my shins are parallel to the floor. Make circles with your toes. You can also point and flex your toes.

Modified forward fold: You’ll need to sit back up for this one, if you’re feeling playful, bring your legs up as if you were about to enter Plow Pose, Your lets should be fairly straight, and your knees will be near your nose. Then swing your legs down and sit up! You can rock back and forth like this too, though I find doing it too fast on a hard floor can be uncomfortable.
From your seated position we will come into a forward fold, however, unless it is easy for you to relax with your legs completely straight, keep a bend in your knees. Keep your knees bent enough that your upper body can rest on your thighs. As your legs feel looser, you can scoot your heels farther away and straighten your legs more, but until then, enjoy this sweet modified forward fold. (Perhaps still try even if you can do a complete forward fold.)

Happy Baby: Lay back once more. This is my absolute favorite pose to do to cheer myself up. It’s the goofiest pose out there too, and it’s great for you! Bring your knees to your chest again, but this time draw your knees toward your armpits. Use your hands to hold the outside of your feet, or your index and middle fingers to your big toes. Draw your feet up so your knees are at about a 90 degree angle. From here you can rock side to side, alternate bending your legs. And remember, you’re a happy baby! You can smile and laugh!

Savasana: Let go and lay back. Now is the perfect chance to add in any other poses you would like to. If you’re ready to settle down though, let your feet relax. Maybe grab a pillow for under your head. Feel comfortable! I would normally say you should relax your face in Savasana, but today, you can enjoy a little smile.

Taking steps to feel better is so important. Even if we still feel a little stress after a practice like these, you have still done something to help yourself feel better. That is amazing! Even if you only started the practice or did 1 or 2 poses, you still did it.

You are wonderful.

Namaste

The Upper Body Routine – 20min Practice

Wheph, if there was ever a practice I need, it’s this! I am seriously lacking in the upper body department, but we all need to start somewhere, right? This practice was inspired by a friend who does rock climbing! She’s been looking for ways to strengthen and loosen her shoulders.

A forewarning: This will work more than your upper body, you may feel it in your abs, glutes, and even legs on occasion! And I’ve got one different pose for you today! You can replace a Downward Facing Dog with a Dolphin! Great for the shoulders!

20 minute Upper Body Practice

Virasana: We’re starting kneeling today. You are welcome to sit a different way, but this seems to work the best for me. Ideally, your big toes would touch, and your butt would be in between your heels in a nice little seat created by your feet. (Some people even teach that your bottom should be on the floor between your feet! Go there if you’d like.) If this is hard for you, there are loads of modifications to this pose.

  • Place a block between your feet and sit on that. You can use books too, anything that fits comfortably between your feet, really. You can also place a blanket on top of your block/books to give yourself a little throne.
  • Roll up a towel or small blanket between your ankles and the floor. Most people think this pose is all in the knees, but if your ankles are tight, it can still be a nightmare. This is a good way to relax and slowly stretch out your ankles.

If all else fails, it is absolutely fine to sit cross-legged, or even stand for these next few poses.

Shoulder stretch: Bring your right arm up straight in front of you about shoulder height. Keep your palm facing in, toward the left. Bring your left arm under your right and hook it around your right arm. Your right arm should sit in your left elbow. Use your left arm and pull your right arm like a lever to the left. your arm will start to lay against your body. Sit up nice and tall, and try to avoid letting your shoulder’s hunch. I find moving back and forth in this pose to feel sort of nice. Switch sides!

Side stretch: We’ve done this before. Hands straight in front of you, palms facing toward each other. Interlace your fingers, turn your palms out, and raise your arms up and over head. Now lean to the right. Try not to let one of your sit bones (Buttcheeks, point butt bones, whatever you call them) lift up. You want your legs and bottom to stay firmly planted. Inhale as you sit up straight, then leave to the left.

Cowface: Bring your right arm straight out to the side, palm facing forward. Raise your arm straight up then bend your elbow, you’ll end up patting yourself on the back. Now straighten your left arm out to the side, but with your palm facing back. Lower your arm down and bend your elbow so the back of your hand can rest against your back. If it’s available to you, try to hook your fingers together, if not, hold a strap in your right hand has you get into this pose, then grab it with your left when it comes up your back. Being able to clasp your hands behind your back is not for everyone, and some people may never be able to do it simply because of our bodies! So never fear, straps are here!

Planks/Chatturanga: For the basic plank position, you have 3 options with your arms and 2 with your legs here: You can keep your knees bend and on the mat, I recommend then keeping your feet off the mat if you can, or you can stay on your toes with your knees straight. Each of these arm positions also has slightly different benefits too, so maybe you want to try our each one!
Option 1: Straight arms. Your arms would be extended straight in front of you, like you are in a table to position.
Option 2: Rest on your elbows, with your forearms flat on the mat going straight out in front of you!
Option 3: Chatturanga arms! Start like in the first option, but you will lower yourself down so that your elbows are bending back. You want your elbows at about a 90 degree angle. This can be a very hard pose though, so don’t be afraid to back out, or do it on your knees. This one you can’t really do on your fists though. I suppose you could, so if you really like doing it like that go for it, but if you can, try doing it with your palms open and flat on the ground.

(Optional) Child’s Pose: For those of us who just need a break, take a Child’s Pose.

Side Planks: The side plank can be done from the first two options of plank position. You can always push up from Chatturanga into option 1 though, so don’t think you’ve committed to not trying out side planks. You really just move all your weight and roll over to your side and support your body using your right hand and foot. Don’t for get to do it on both sides! And if you can, try to go from a plank to a side plank, then roll back through a plank to the other side.

Down Dog/Dolphin: From a table top position, tuck your toes, push into your hands, and lift your knees, then send your sit bones on up!

Alternate Leg Grabs: If you struggle with grabbing your legs in this pose check out the Core Yoga routine from last week to see another version of this pose.
This pose is done from a table top position, like the previous pose. Really think about your abs with this pose. They should be doing a lot of work. Your glutes, arms, back, sides, shoulders, everything! This is a very active pose for your whole body, so keep that structural integrity in your body as you do this. In this pose we lift one arm and the opposite leg usually. As you lift your right left, raise your right arm back and grab onto your ankle. Push your ankle into your hand and you’ll find your back may arch a little! (This is a bit like Bow Pose.) Switch!

Child’s Pose: Finally, relax in an Extended Child’s Pose, with those arms out straight to stretch out your shoulders a little.

Savasana: Flip onto your back, let your feet flop to the sides and your arms relax along side your body. You deserve this!

Namaste!

Yoga for a Busy Day – 10 Minute Practice

With the holidays upon us, it’s hard not to get wrapped up in stress. In the United States, it’s Thanksgiving week! It can be nice to have family and friends around, but do you still have time to do your practice? Or maybe you just need a short break from everything! Well throw that turkey in the oven, go hide in the bathroom, and check out this routine! You won’t need much space or time to do this, and let the stress will melt away.

Note: If you’ve been  standing all day and your feet just need a break, you can do this in a chair! (Or if you’re hiding in the bathroom, sitting on the toilet lid?) just keep your feet planted on the ground about hip width apart, if you can, sit straight without your back leaning on a backrest.

Yoga for a Busy Day 

Tadasana: We’re going to start by standing in Tadasana (Mountain Pose). Stand with your feet about hip width apart and keep your feet parallel. Try not to lock your knees. Roll your shoulders back and stand nice and tall, but keep your chest relaxed down. If you already stand with good posture, this is likely similar to how you would normally stand. Let your hands hang loose at your sides. (Stay tuned for next week’s talk on proper alignment and Tadasana.) This is your moment to breath, smile, and reconnect with your body.

Shoulder rolls: You can bring your fingertips to the tops of your shoulders with your elbows pointing out, or you can relax your arms down by your side. Make slow and gentle circles with your shoulders one direction, then the other.

Neck rolls: If your fingertips are on your shoulders, relax your arms down by your sides now. Draw big circles with your nose one direction, then the other. Avoid throwing your head back very far; it may help to think about trying to keep your neck movements gentle. Return to neutral then look left and right, then up and down.

Clasp hands above head: Bring your arms and hands up straight in front of your shoulders with your palms facing. Interlace your fingers, and turn your palms out. Raise your hands up and overhead. If this is a strain on your shoulders, you can add a slight bend to your elbows, or come out of this slightly. Release your fingers and let them float down your sides. If you’d like, interlace your fingers the opposite way and doing it again! For most people, interlacing your fingers the opposite way will feel very strange.

Side stretch: This pose will be different depending on if you’re standing or sitting. You are welcome to try to do this similar to the standing variation if you’re sitting. Let me know if it works for you!
Standing: (This is called Half Moon in Bikram Yoga.) Like the previous pose, bring your hands up in front of you, shoulder height, palms facing. This time, fully clasp your hands, so your fingers will be interlaced, and your palms will be touching. Keep your index fingers extending, kind of like they’re a steeple. Bring your arms up and overhead. Really ground your feet in this pose, your legs really need to support you. Lean your upper body to the right, keep your chest, head, and pelvis facing straight forward. Come out of it slowly, then lean to the left!
Seated: This would likely be best like the other seated side stretches we’ve done. Plant your right hand on the right side of your seat. If you can grasp the side of your seat with your fingers, avoid griping it super tightly. With your left palmed turned out at your side, bring it up and over head from the side and lean to the right. Push into your right hand to come out, then switch sides!

Forward fold: From standing, swan dive down into a forward fold. Let your knees bend deeply and relax here for a second. Straighten your knees, and lift into a flat back position. You can place your hands on your thighs, shins, or ankles depending on where is comfortable and where you can reach. Relax forward, bend your knees. Come back up into that flat back once more. Now relax forward and when you’re ready, inhale as you slowly roll up keeping your knees soft or with a gentle bend. As you’re coming back into a straight standing position, sweep your arms up and overhead. bring your palms down, and lower your hands to your heart (thumbs to sternum). You will now be in a prayer position.

Relaxation: If you want to get down on the floor and do some Savasana, you can. This is also a good opportunity to add in anything else you would like to this practice. Since my goal is to keep this practice simple and short, I’m going to suggest, keeping your hands in that prayer pose or relaxing your hands along your side and come back into the same pose we began with and close your eyes. Take this moment to relax and breath. If you did this practice standing, you can now choose to sit as well.

Now go forth and conquer the world!
Namaste