In keeping with the theme of National Yoga Month, combined with Back-to-School stress, I thought I'd share one of my favorite restorative yoga sequences. This is a series of poses that can be very useful in times of stress, to calm anxiety, or simply come back to balance when you are feeling run down.
1. Start seated- Focus on your breath, trying to breath in to a count of five and exhale to a count of 5. Let your awareness settle on the present moment and how your breath feels as you expand and contract.
2. Bound Angle- Bring the soles of your feet together, spine reaching tall. Let your knees slowly and gently travel towards the earth. Begin to shift your weight to your left, then forward, right, then back. Keeping slowly opening the hips by moving in these circles. Repeat 3-5 times, then reverse direction.
3. Table Top with twist- Come to hand and knees, shoulders over your wrists and hips over heels. Root down through your left hand and reach tall with your right arm. Bring it slowly underneath your left arm, twisting to the left and bringing your shoulder to or towards the floor. Repeat on your other side.
4. Cat/Cow- Re-aligning yourself into table top position, take a deep breath in and look up as you arch your back. Exhale and round the spine, gazing towards your navel and pushing the hands down into the floor. Repeat 3-5 times, integrating your movement with your breath.
5. Child's Pose-Wide knees wide, bring your hips towards your heels as far as feels comfortable, forehead resting on the floor. You can always use a blanket under your belly if your knees resist. Stretch the arms out in front of you and reach towards the front of the room. Breathe here, then slowly walk your hands out towards the right. Open up your side body as you push down and away with the hands here. Walk hands back to center and then over to the left.
6. Legs up the Wall- Move to the wall with 1-3 folded blankets or a bolster. Stack the blankets and line them (or the bolster) up to the wall. Begin with your right hip and shoulder just grazing the wall, sitting on the side of the blanket. Slowly swing your legs up the wall and let your head and shoulders rest on the floor. Don't be discouraged if you need to wiggle to get your hips closer to the wall, or if it takes you a few times to get there. You'll get there eventually. :) Keep your legs firm on the wall, but release your arms to your sides. Close your eyes and let all the tension and anxiety you've built through your day melt. Stay here 5-15 minutes, then slowly bend your knees and roll off your supports. Stay on your side for a few breaths, then slowly come back to seated. Ahhhhhhh!!!!!
Kristin Henningsen, M.S., C.H. R.Y.T.
September is National Yoga Month. What does that mean? Well, it has a different meaning for everyone. Perhaps you are a seasoned Yogi and need to rejuvenate or renew your practice with a deeper study. Now's the time to do it. Perhaps you have been wanting to try yoga, but work, kids, dishes, etc., etc. always seems to take a priority. Well, now's the time to try it. Whatever it means for you, Yoga Month inspires more mindful and healthy living by simply bringing awareness to the table.
It's time to cast aside excuses and honor yourself by engaging in an activity that inspires your body, mind, and spirit.
Another great benefit of Yoga Month is that many studios around the country are offering free yoga. Yes, free! And not just one class, but a week of classes so you get to look around and choose a style that inspires you. Check out http://www.yogamonth.org/ to find a studio near you that is offering this great service. While you're there you can also check out their Yoga Month Blog for giveaways, subscribe to their newsletter, or find yoga events in your community. Take a look around and be inspired!
Now's the time to start that journey!
Kristin Henningsen, M.S., C.H., R.Y.T.
Perhaps you've heard. Hula hooping is back! And more exciting than ever before. Last January I was lucky enough to be on the Colorado River with a Hooper for 25 days, and boy did she have some tricks up her sleeve! Since then, however, I haven't had quite the time or exposure to explore this fun activity. Well, last weekend that changed!
One of the great parts of teaching at a yoga studio is that you get to join in all the fun workshops! We were lucky enough to host a very talented hooper from the August, GA area. She taught us basics, tricks, and then we even got to make our own hula hoops! I'm not ashamed to admit I came home with 4 (for the kids of course!). I've been addicted (to my kids delight) ever since.
Not only is hula hooping fun, but yes it has health benefits as well! According to hooping.org (2011) hula hooping helps burn fat, tones the body, increases your fitness level, improves your mood and coordination, and increases the flexibility of your spine. I can vouch for the fact that my core muscles are feeling a little sore these days!
For me, my favorite part of hooping has been spending time outside with the kids being active. It's almost a moving meditation and it has really helped clear my mind and reduce anxiety when I most need it. Check out the link the the video to see what it's all about!
Kristin Henningsen M.S., C.H., R.Y.T. and hooper extraordinaire
I am constantly amazed by the healing power of yoga and herbs. They inspire me to heal, to write, to teach, and to keep exploring.