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So, I have a question for you...
I'm curious: how do you feel about your posture?
If you practice yoga regularly, chances are you're pretty aware of your spinal alignment and stance during standing poses, and things like whether you're lifting your chest, rounding your back, or lacking muscular engagement in a pose.
But how is your posture while you're off your yoga mat? Do you notice your posture when you're working, watching TV, driving in the car, or otherwise moving about your day? Do you spend a lot of time on your feet, or seated at a desk?
And do you have friends, family, or colleagues who suffer from discomfort or pain which might be related to poor posture?
This post is for you! I believe this post is for every one, actually... we all have moments where we forget to notice our posture, and it can lead to feeling stiff or uncomfortable, straining our bodies unnecessarily, or aggravating old injuries. Here are some simple ways to improve your posture, starting today.
1. Notice your body. Check in with the following areas: your head, neck and shoulders; your arms and legs; your torso; your hips; your upper, middle and lower back; your feet. Where do you notice pain or discomfort? Where do you feel most stable, or unstable? Which areas feel tight or like they've been neglected? Start paying close attention to these areas, and noticing your body alignment.
2. Increase your daily movement routine. Posture is linked to your overall health, and so is the amount of movement you're getting each day. Aim for at least 30 minutes of aerobic exercise, whether it's walking, running, biking, yoga, swimming, or whatever other activities you enjoy. By improving your mobility and flexibility, your body will become more comfortable in standing and sitting positions, and you'll have a stronger sense of body awareness.
4. Talk to your yoga teacher, fitness coach, chiropractor, doctor, or other health professional about your posture. Ask for information and insight from those you trust.
5. Track your progress. Keep a checklist or small calendar with you, and mark down some notes each day about how your posture is improving. Set specific goals for yourself, and ask others to help you stay accountable. You could also consider having a friend take a daily or weekly photo of you, so you can see how your posture is looking.
Do you have any tips for improving your posture? I'd love to hear!
Photos by Ken Johnson of CKCImage.com (1, 5), Brynna Bryant of Respiro Photography (2, 3, 6), and Lucid Reflections (4).
2. Take deep breaths. Oftentimes when I've experienced strong anxiety, I start to breathe shallowly and quickly, from my chest, rather than taking in deep belly breaths. This can lead to an intensified feeling of panic. If I sit down and breathe consciously for a few minutes, this helps a lot. One tool I love to use is the SAM app I downloaded on my phone; it's an app designed specifically to help with anxiety and there's one option for 'Calm breathing' where you can use a timer to count your inhales and exhales. It might sound silly or oversimplified, but when you're in a high-anxiety state it's actually a very effective and calming technique to focus on breathing. Take away distractions. Breathe. This will help relax your body and calm your mind.
3. Take a shower or wash your face. Give yourself a little massage, either on your feet or your temples. Take a moment to rinse away this moment. Picture yourself brushing off whatever is weighing on you. Again, stay present to your physical body.
4. Express some of the emotions you're feeling. Verbalize and speak out loud about what's going on for you. Maybe you talk to yourself in the shower, or write in your journal. Or...
5. Reach out. Call or text a friend. Ask if you can come over and get a hug. Let yourself lean on those you love, and acknowledge that it's OK to feel weak right now. Talk. Talk more than you want to. Talk, even though it's uncomfortable. Let the conversation be messy and let yourself be OK with that.
And, at the end of the day, give yourself permission to be in a place of struggle. Remind yourself that you are OK. Things will get better from here.
PS Other great posts about dealing with anxiety:
- 24 ways to heal and release anxiety
- practical ways to support someone going through a hard time
- an anxiety trick
- text messages to send to someone who is experiencing anxiety
PS: More great articles on how to hold space as a yoga teacher:
- How to hold space for yourself first.
- What does it actually mean to 'hold space' and how do you do it?
- Holding space is not only a gift to others, but a beautiful opportunity for self-exploration.
- Fixing problems vs. holding space.
- inspire you with new ideas
- support you on days when you feel exhausted or worn down from teaching
- ignite your passion
- offer useful, tangible resources to help you create a successful yoga business
- connect you with a network of amazing, talented, experienced yoga teachers
- provide safe space for you to learn, share, and grow in your career
I believe summer is a wonderful time of year to go on adventures, try new things, and meet new friends.
Here are a few of my favorite creative outlets. I hope they help you discover new, fun, exciting ways to spend your summer!
- Write. Even if you don't consider yourself a 'writer,' try putting a pen to paper. You never know where the ideas will lead you! Whether you're simply journaling about your experiences, making a list of things you want to accomplish, creating fictional characters and stories, or even doodling, let yourself try something new. Don't censor yourself or edit, just write! See where it leads you.
- Cook. Look up recipes on Pinterest, buy a cookbook at your local used bookstore, or consider asking a friend or family member for a new recipe. I often find that when I give myself time to be creative in the kitchen, it yields wonderfully delicious results! It's also fun to try making a fancy breakfast or special dessert, and surprising someone you love. Cooking dinner with a glass of wine (or two) is always fun, too! :)
- Spend time in nature. Being outdoors often feels like a 'reset' for your creativity. Try going for a hike, walking on the beach, watching the sunset, or even just taking a walk around your neighborhood. Being outside can offer the breath of fresh air you need to spark a new idea. I also love taking my yoga practice outside to mix things up!
- Chant, sing, or play an instrument. Music is a wonderful way to be creative. Personally I love to sing to the radio in my car, pull out my djembe and chant in the living room, or look up new artists and songs on Spotify. Someday it would be fun to take up piano again (I took lessons as a little kid) or try playing the guitar. Do you play any instruments?
- Clean and declutter your home. Does anyone else out there feel relieved and more open to creativity after catching up on dishes, laundry, and tidying the house? :) I can't tell you how many times I've prioritized cleaning and then given myself time to be creative, and what a difference that makes. If you're short on time, you can also choose to clean just one area of the house or just around your desk, and then go from there.
- Take a single static yoga pose for 3-5 minutes. Headstand is my favorite, since it brings fresh oxygenated blood to the brain, and is a literal way to shift my perspective. Backbends are also great postures for opening your creative energy channels, or if your body is feeling fatigued, try a yin pose such as pigeon (sleeping swan) or supta baddha konasana.
- Clear your schedule. This might be my favorite item on this list :) I find that when I create empty space in my schedule-- no plans, no to-do items, nowhere to be-- this is one of the best ways I can bring more creativity. By allowing space, I'm able to let my thoughts settle, and this often leads to new ideas.
- 3 sun salutations to warm up
- Tree pose (option to shake it and dance to "Happy" between sides!)
- Triangle pose on each side
- Mountain pose
- Extended big-toe-pose (balance)
- Reverse Warrior on each side
- Cat/cow release
- Dancer pose (balance)
- Seated stretching
- 3 sun salutations to warm up
- Star pose
- Warrior I on each side (can be repeated 3 or 4 times to build heat in the body)
- Optional - 3-5 minutes of ab work, either seated, or on your back
- Goddess pose
- Crow pose
- Feel free to move between goddess and crow 3 or 4 times, seeing how long you can stay, and cultivating awareness of the present moment (strong Ujjayi breath!)
- Child's pose (rest for a few breaths)
- Bridge pose (or Wheel, if it's in your practice)
Do you sweat a lot in yoga? Do you practice in a heated studio?
Well, this post is for you :)
(And by the way, I do both of those things, too!)
Here are some ideas about how to refresh before and after a sweaty practice.
Use a yoga mat spray like Mat Mist. This amazing, aromatherapeutic spray comes in scents such as Sandalwood lavender geranium, Thyme Douglas fir, Lemon myrtle peppermint vetiver and Colloidal silver water.
What's especially rad about Mat Mist is that all you have to do is spray down your mat after class, roll it up, and go. The essential oils will disinfect your mat without requiring you to wipe it down, plus, next time you practice, there's a little scent there to awaken your senses and encourage deep pranayama breathing.
Sponsored yogini Kelsie recently tried the product... she took it to class and not only did she love it, but she said all the yogis around her loved it and were asking where they could find some :) She also sprays it around her house because it's that good (!!) and she loves that it is all organic and natural.
“The body is your temple. Keep it pure and clean for the soul to reside in.” – B.K.S. Iyengar
- 3 sun salutations to warm up
- Cat pose with lion's breath
- High plank with audible exhale
- Downdog (move freely, let go of any tension)
- Leg lifts/ stacking the hips (hip opener)
- Warrior 2 / Reverse Warrior waves on each side
- Optional short rest in Child's pose
- Goddess pose (malasana/ squat) with three lion's breaths
- Happy baby
- Plow pose