Stretch Out the Stress with Yoga Lani Rieger November 18, 2014 Be Fit, Be Healthy Stress is the monster we all hate, it has a nasty habit of sneaking up when you least expect it and hitting you hard in the chest. Everyone gets stress and we all have our ways of battling it. For us at Fitness Luxe, there’s no better way to fight stress than through yoga! The exercise boasts healthy breathing techniques and stretches that will melt off all sorts of tension from your body. If you have any apprehensions about trying yoga, now’s the time to let those negative thoughts go. In fact, yoga is all about letting go. To get in the right state of mind, you have to relax and loosen any tension in your body, mind, and soul. Don’t get me wrong, yoga is a workout. There are challenging poses that will stretch and strengthen your body, but the point is to ultimately relax your body and mind. A good yoga session will generally end with a sore but incredibly content body. Don’t know where to start? Let’s get zen by moving through these beginner-friendly poses. Tadasana (Mountain Pose) This pose strengthens the spine and improves posture. Stand tall on your mat with feet together and weight evenly distributed on both feet. Let the arms hang down at your sides, pull the belly in, and breathe. With your heels planted, lift all ten toes upward. Lower your toes and place them on the floor one at a time, then stand tall. Feel the stretch in your spine and imagine the tension moving slowly from the base of the spine toward your head. Vrksasana (Tree Pose) This pose opens the hip and improves balance. From Tadasana, shift your weight to the left foot and bend your right knee and bring it toward your left leg. Rest the right sole against your left inner thigh or calf, if it’s easier. Make sure you keep your right knee pointed to the right side. Bring your hands to heart center and hold for five breaths, then switch sides. Like Tadasana, imagine whatever tension or stress you have flow upwards as you inhale and exhale. (photo Lara Thomas) Marjaryasana-Bitilasana (Cat-Cow Pose) This pose stretches and strengthens your core. Kneel on all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under hips. I move my hips back a few inches to open my hip creases a little. (This will prepare you for your next pose, Downward Facing Dog). Exhale, round your spine up toward the ceiling, and gently curl your head down like a scared cat. Inhale and reverse the motion. Really feel those deep breaths and the stretch in your spine. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog) This pose stretches and relaxes the body. From cat-cow pose, push back keeping your spine straight, placing your palms in front of you on the mat. Breathe normal and have a slight bend in your knees as you peddle your feet for more stretch. Lengthen your tailbone away from the back of your pelvis. Make sure your elbows are straight and your fingers are spread and rooted. Inhale deeply and engage your core, hold this position for a few breaths. Notice the pressure on your arms as you press your palms down on the mat and how it moves through your body. Savasana (Resting Pose) This pose is my favorite. It calms the nervous system and usually marks the end of a yoga session. In this pose lie on your back with hands by your side and palms facing up towards the ceiling. If you can feel any discomfort, place a towel under your head or knees. Close your eyes and breathe steadily. Let your whole body relax and stay in this pose for 5 minutes. When you’re ready to come out of the pose, gently roll to the right side, press your hands against the floor, and sit up. Now get some stress relief with yoga. Happy stretching!