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Stress-Relief Yoga

We can all get a little tense at times. Whether it's at work, school, trying to entertain the kids, or just balance life in general. The whole act itself is
challenging. Sometimes we find ourselves in the boat where we’re so stressed out that our body aches, we can’t sleep and our traps (the muscle at the top, front, and back of our shoulders) is tighter than our skinny jeans after Christmas meals.

Stressful times come and go, but the best thing that we can do is try to
manage them. Whether that’s through breathwork, meditation, journaling, going for a walk, or doing a few yoga exercises. In today’s blog post, we’re going to be combining breathing and yoga exercises to take you from saying “grrr….” to “ahhhh.”

How to Start a Home Yoga Practice:
Don’t get caught up in the idea that you need to have a dedicated space to practice yoga, meditation, or breathing. Sure, it helps to have an area that you can associate with that practice, but a space that has a door that you can close to lock out the kids, pets, and your partner works well too. Start by finding or creating a space in your home that has some natural light and place your yoga mat and a pillow to sit down on the floor. If you need to have pictures of the poses printed out, keep them to the side of your mat so you can reference them easily. If you prefer to listen to music while you practice, pull up your favourite zen yoga playlist and hit the play button! That’s all you need. Now let’s start practicing!

We’ve listed two sequences for you to work your way through below. Depending on what you are looking for--a dose energy or a sense of calm and peace--you can choose the yoga practice that suits your needs.

Wake-me-up Yoga Sequence

1. Mountain Pose
Start by standing at the top of your mat with your feet together, hands by your sides and shoulders rolled down your back. As you inhale, sweep your arms up into the air, then exhale and lower your arms down as you fold forward bringing
your torso over your legs. Repeat that three times.

2. Warrior One Pose
Starting in mountain pose, as you inhale, bend your left leg and lift it up into the air at hip height. As you exhale, step the left foot behind you in a high lunge and turn the foot out slightly. As you inhale, reach both arms up by your ears, exhale, and then lean back slightly. As you inhale, step the left foot back up to the top of your mat and repeat with the opposite leg.

3. Cobra Pose
Starting at the top of your mat, fold forward, bending at theknees bringing your chest down to your thighs. Plant your hands on your mat and step back into a high plank position. As you exhale, lower yourself down to the ground, untuck your toes and press into your hands to extend your arms and arch your back. Take a few deep breaths here and then press back into a plank position with your knees up or down. Walk your feet back up to the top of your mat, sweep the arms up overhead as you inhale and come up to stand and then lower them to your sides.

4. Tree Pose
Starting with your right side, as you inhale, lift the leg into the air and gently turn the hip out to the side, placing your left foot on the inside of your right thigh or calf. Reach both arms up beside your ears and take a few deep breaths in and out. You can also lean to one side to add a side stretch. Repeat with the other leg.

Downward dog to plank hold

5. Downward Dog to Plank Hold
Starting at the top of your mat, as you inhale, reach both arms up overhead and fold forward as you exhale bringing your chest down to your thighs. Plant your hands down on the mat and step back into a high plank position. Press into
your hands to send the hips back into the air and press your head and chest through the gate of your shoulders. Keep actively pressing through your hands as you pedal out the feet transferring the weight between them. As you inhale, shift your weight back into your hands coming into a high plank and hold this for 15 seconds. The next time that you exhale, press the hips back into the air for downward-facing dog and pedal out the feet. Repeat shifting between downward dog and plank a few more times. Then, step back up to the top of your mat, inhale and reach both arms up overhead and go back to the top of the sequence, repeating it as many times as you need.

Yoga - Calm and Peace Practice

1. Child’s Pose
Start by kneeling on your mat. Place your knees at the wide edges of your mat with your feet together. Gently fold yourself over your legs, bringing your chest down to them and wrapping your arms around and behind your legs. Allow your
forehead to rest on your knees or the floor and take 10 slow, deep breaths.

2. Half Happy Baby
Starting on your back, lay flat down on your mat. As you inhale, reach your arms up overhead and point your toes, making yourself as long as possible. As you exhale, draw both legs into your chest and curl into a ball wrapping the arms around your legs. Take a few deep breaths here. As you exhale, release the right leg down to the ground, keeping the knee bent or the leg straight, and draw the left knee into your left armpit. You can choose to keep the leg in this position, or place your left hand behind your knee, on your left foot, or behind the ankle as you extend the foot up into the air. Keep the knee bent and continue to draw it in
towards your shoulder as you breathe. Repeat on the other side.

3. Reclined Pigeon Pose
Stay laying on your back with the right leg drawn into your chest, bend your left leg and place your foot on the mat.bPlace your right ankle over your left knee so your legs resemble the shape of a figure 4. From here, interlace your hands behind your left leg drawing them into your chest. Keep your head on the floor, eyes closed and jaw relaxed as you take 10 deep breaths here. Repeat on the other side.

4. Recline Twist
Start laying down on your back with the left leg drawn into your chest. Pass the left knee into your right hand and gently guide the knee across your body, into a twist and rest the knee on your mat, a blanket or a block. Take your arms out into a T position and turn your head to the opposite side of the twist. Hold the pose and take 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the other side.

5. Corpse Pose
Lay flat on your back with your legs and arms extended by your sides. Allow your head to rest comfortably on your mat behind you, cushioning it if you need the support. Allow your eyes to gently close, your breath to slow and your jaw, tongue and forehead to relax and soften. Start to count your breaths in sets of four. Breathe in to the count of four, hold for four, exhale for four and then pause for four seconds before repeating the pattern. Allow your body to be heavy on the ground, for your heart and breathing rate to both slow down. Take a few minutes in this pose, or as long as you feel you need to help you reset.

 Lindsay Mustard is a Holistic Nutritionist, Yoga Instructor and recipe-wizard with a burning passion for health and fitness. In her nutrition practice, Lindsay works with clients to craft a unique plan that is tailored to their specific health goals using a natural, whole food and supplement approach.