Mindfulness Tips: Relaxation and Stress Relief Yoga Practice
Next, we will move into a side stretch. Extend your right hand off the right side of your mat and walk your left hand all the way over to place on top of your right hand. You should feel a lot of length in your left side body. Breathe into that sensation, creating space and releasing tension with each breath. Then, walk your hands back through center and switch sides. Left hand comes off the left side of your mat, and the right hand goes all the way over to place on top of your left hand. Breathe into your whole right side body. Remember, the key to a deep breath is not by inhaling deeper, but by exhaling deeper. Release that stale air at the top of your lungs to make space for a deeper inhale.
Now, rise up into a tabletop position on your hands and knees. From here, drop your belly, lift your chin, and take a big inhale. Then, exhale to round your spine, tuck your chin, tuck your tailbone, and pull your lower belly in. Repeat this movement a few times, flowing between cow pose and cat pose. Each time you inhale, let your belly drop, chin lifts, and heart opens in cow pose. Each time you exhale, round your spine, tuck your chin, tuck your tailbone, and pull your belly in for cat pose.
Afterward, curl your toes under, send your hips high and back into downward facing dog. Press your chest towards your thighs and give a gentle bend in your knees. Lift your hips high and back, even tucking your tailbone up towards the ceiling. Feel free to add any movement that serves you in this pose, such as pedaling out your legs or exploring different stretches.
Now, let's move into a big hip opener called half pigeon. Bring your right knee to your right wrist and open it up past your right wrist towards the right side of your mat. Lay your shin flat on the mat, and if you're flexible, your ankle will come up towards your left wrist. Find a position where your hips are square, and then walk your hands up towards your hips. Take a big inhale to puff up through your heart. You can stay here or exhale to fold forward, walking your hands forward or lowering down to your forearms or forehead. Stay in this posture for a minute, using your breath to release tension in your right hip.
After a minute, walk your hands back and make your way back to downward facing dog. Feel free to add any movement before we switch sides. Now, bring your left knee to your left wrist and open it up towards the left side of your mat. Lay your shin flat on the mat, finding a position where your hips are still squared off towards the front of your mat. Walk your hands up towards your hips and take a big inhale to puff up through your chest. Exhale to fold forward, finding a similar variation to the previous side. Breathe deeply and relax your body into the posture.
Return to downward facing dog and take a moment to settle into the pose. From here, walk to the top of your mat for a deep forward fold. Take a seat and come to lie down on your back. We will now move into bridge pose. Place your feet flat on the mat with your knees bent. Pull your heels in so that your fingertips can just barely graze them. Your feet and knees should be hip distance apart, and your legs should be parallel. Tuck your tailbone up to the ceiling to flatten out your lower back, and then lift your hips up as you press your knees forward into a bridge pose. Continue lifting your hips until you can shimmy your shoulders underneath you and interlace your hands together. Press your pinkies into the mat, lifting up through your chest and hips. Stay in this pose for a few breaths, feeling the strength and openness in your body.
Slowly lower your hips down and release your hands. Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall open like butterfly legs. Take your arms overhead, interlacing your fingers and letting your elbows follow. Relax your inner thighs and chest in this pose, allowing your body to release any remaining tension.
Now, draw your navel in towards your spine and pull your knees back together. Hold onto your shins and extend your left leg long down on your mat. Reach your right arm straight up from your side and inhale. Exhale as you draw your knee across your body towards the left, creating a supine spinal twist. To add a pretzel variation, bend your left knee and reach down with your right hand to grab onto your foot. You can use a strap or towel if needed. Move your left knee back a couple of inches so that your left leg is in line with your spine. Relax your body and deepen your breath in this twist, allowing your shoulders to roll open and your lower back to relax.
Release your right foot and undo the twist. Pull both knees into your chest and take a moment to breathe deeply. Release your left leg long down on your mat and hold onto your right leg. Extend your left arm straight up from your side and inhale. Exhale as you pull your knee across your body and hook your left hand on your right thigh for the pretzel variation. Reach down with your right hand to grab onto your left foot or use a strap or towel. Move your right knee back in line with your spine and relax your body into the twist. Breathe deeply and allow yourself to go deeper into the pose.
Return to center and pull both knees into your chest. Release your feet and come into happy baby pose. Grab onto your feet and let your knees track open towards your shoulders. Keep your hips grounded and relax your shoulders down. Feel free to rock from side to side or stay still, finding what feels best for your body.
Finally, come to a seated position and bring your hands together at heart center. Take a moment to honor yourself and the practice you've just completed. Remember, your daily practice is your strongest practice. Take a few moments each day to find stillness and connect with your body and breath.