Posts tagged Stretch
My favorite morning yoga routine

Welcome back, hope you all had a good start to the year. I just got off a call with my mom, and we spoke about how little we have done so far this year. With the cool weather outside and non-existent dinner invitations, we both agreed we have a lot more time to catch up with things, and with ourselves.

I actually love the idea of spending January a bit more quietly, allowing more time for meditation and my home practice, in comparison with a crowded gym or yoga studio. Of course, it can be energizing to team up with all those folks and see their new year resolutions in action. But yes, whether we like it or not - it will be crowded. 

January really is an excellent time to build or come back to the foundation of your practice. And where is not a better place to begin, than in the calm space of your own home? Breathe in, tune in, and find a few stretches to create more space for good things to come. 

I often do a longer practice in the afternoon or evening. That being said, I really find that a few morning stretching and breathing exercises do wonders for the day ahead. 

Today I want to share my favorite morning yoga routine with you all. I do try to fit it in almost every day. My alarm clock rings, I get out of bed and into the bathroom to put some water on my face. I then prepare a drink to rehydrate, that is sometimes as simple as filtered water, hot water with lemon or some herbal tea.

Roll out your mat yogis...

Supta Padangusthasana l

Supta Padangusthasana l - Reclined Hand to big toe pose l

1. Lie down on your yoga mat, back down
2. Stretch your arms overhead and make yourself as tall as possible
3. Relax your body and reach for your strap (belt, towel or other)
4. Bend your right knee and tie the strap around the ball of your right foot
5. Inhale and stretch your right leg up towards the ceiling
6. Flex both feet to encourage strong legs
7. Keep a microbend in the right knee
8. Use your strap to support the foot, but use your abdomen to keep both your legs strong
9. Keep breathing slowly, stay here for up to a minute

Supta Padangusthasana

Supta Padangusthasana ll - Reclined Hand to big toe pose ll

1. Exhale and slowly begin to move your right foot out to the right, and if eventually down towards the floor
2. Stay with both feet flexed
3. Place the left hand on your left thigh to encourage the left hip to stay down
4. Use the muscles of your core to move slowly
5. Rest the back of your head and both shoulders on the floor
6. Keep your neck long and relax the face
7. Stay here for up to a minute

Supta Padangusthasana lll

Supta Padangusthasana lll - Reclined Hand to big toe pose lll

1. Slowly bring your foot back up to point towards the ceiling
2. Change the strap to your left hand and press your right thumb into your hip crease to push the hip away from you
3. Slowly start to move your right foot over to the left, keeping the leg as straight as you can and adjusting the length of the strap as needed
4. Keep your hips grounded
5. Breathe and extend out through the legs
6. Take a few deep breaths here and stay up to a minute
7. Slowly bring your foot back up over the hips and bend the knee
8. Re-extend your leg down on your mat

<Repeat the sequence on the left side>


Adho Mukha Svanasana - Downward dog

1. Lying down on the floor, bend your knees into your chest and cross your ankles
2. Gently roll forward and back, placing your hands in front of your feet to come on to your hands and knees
3. With your hands slightly in front of your shoulders, slowly lift your knees off the floor
4. Send your hips up and back until you arrive in an upside down V-shape
5. Press down through the hands to lift your forearms away from the floor and to lengthen your spine
6. Feel free to keep a microbend in your knees here
7. Look between your feet and take 3 deep breaths


Downward dog with gentle twists

1. Separate your feet a little wider apart than your usual downward dog
2. Inhale and shift your weight into your left hand, exhale bring your right hand to your left shin or ankle
3. Take a few breaths here
4. If it feels okay for your neck, look under your left armpit
5. Take a few more slow breaths, inhale release the twist and bring your right hand down

<Repeat on the left side>  


Trikonasana - Triangle pose

1. Step your right foot forward, and line up your feet heel to heel
2. Ground down through your feet, place your right hand on your right shin or on the floor next to your front foot. 
3. Inhale, extend the left arm up towards the ceiling as you open the chest out to the side
4. Find length through both sides of your waist
5. Firm your thighs and keep your front knee slightly bent to protect the knee
6. Inhale and extend from your centre and out, energy flowing through the body
7. Exhale and bring both hands down to the floor and step back to downward dog

<Repeat on the left side> 

Happy practicing yogis, let me know how you feel!

Yoga is a training for life

Quite a few things have been going on lately. Weekend trips to London and Paris, wedding planning (the big day is getting closer) and a few updates on my path as a yoga teacher. 

I have now taught Hot Yoga at the YogaHub for almost 3 months. I am so grateful for the students that keep returning and for being patient with me when I confuse the mirroring or say silly things such as "now lower your floor to the chest". 

I remember especially that class when we brought it down to the floor after a series of balancing standing postures. As we sat tall with our legs stretched out in front of us in Dandasana and I was just introducing Paschimottanasana, Seated Forward Bend, the sun starts to shine in through the window. We're blinded by the sunlight. That moment was filled with energy, almost like if time had stopped. 

Next up for me is to start teaching yoga at Squarespace. The students have a varied level of experience, most of them are beginners. I can't wait to share my practice with a group that is so curious and motivated. As discussed in this post, the only thing you need to start is motivation.  

"Just to let you know I am really not flexible, so I don't think I will be able to do so many poses?"

This question is so often asked, especially when we question ourselves and what our bodies will be able to do.

We think of yoga as a physical practice, but yoga involves so much more. It's about working with the breath, mind and the body. These are our tools to find a healthier way to relate to ourselves and to others. 

When we deepen our breath, focus our minds or shift our bodies into different asanas (poses), all that is yoga. It doesn't take a specific asana to be a yogi. 

However, if we're already in an asana, which is no longer a challenge for us and we distract from it. I would hesitate to call that yoga. 

When you walk in a labyrinth, you need to stay open, patient and curious to enjoy the winding path. Once you arrive in the centre, you might expect a feeling of victory, but that feeling often goes away way too quickly. The rest of the time is merely about taking the same way back, the perspectives may change here, but the path is familiar.

It is all about how we create our own experiences as we travel from our own unique starting point. There are more than 800 yoga poses. But keeping a mindful healthy yoga practice doesn't have anything to do with how many of these poses you are comfortable with. It is not about the achievment. It is rather about the progress. 

"Work alone is your privilege, never the fruits thereof. Never let the fruits of action be your motive, and never cease to work. Work in the name of the spirit, abandoning all selfish desires. Be not affected by success or failure. This equipoise is called yoga." (Bhagavad Gītā)

Trust that your body will tell you what it needs. If you have tight hips, shoulders or hamstrings - focus on the breath and practice the poses that will help to loosen these muscle groups. The same goes for finding a yoga practice that will balance the level of stress you have in your life, most of us needs to include a calming yoga practice. What we call yin yoga. And don't forget Savasana.

In this sense, yoga is a training for life. Practice where you are at, right now. Practice to breathe through the tension. Practice an open heart in difficult situations. Practice small active changes and observe the difference it will make. Have your eyes at a goal, but don't be fooled to think the goal is where you need to be. It is in the practice of getting there, that liberation and positive impactful change will happen.