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advice: put your oxygen mask on first
As a single mom working two jobs, it wasn’t effortless to learn how to take care of myself.
I was working non-stop, barely eating, and stressed beyond belief. The exhaustion put me in the hospital and was an eye-opener for me. I was teaching yoga and giving my fellow yogis advice on how to love and take care of themselves, but I was not following my advice. I came home, and once I started feeling better, I made a promise to myself to try to put myself first.
We cannot properly take care of the ones we love and give 100% to our career if we are not taking care of ourselves first. Whether it is before you wake the kids or after they have gone to bed, try taking a few moments to settle everything down with yourself.
Sit on your yoga mat in a position you are comfortable in. Close your eyes. Take a big inhale through your nose. Raise your arms over your head. As you exhale out through your mouth, slowly bring your arms right back down. Inhale up. Exhale down. Do this a few times, allowing your body to relax and settle in. Start to walk your hands out, creating space in your lower back and hips. Gently come into a tabletop position.
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Here are eight poses to help ease your body and your mind.
Synchronize your breathing throughout this movement. Starting with a beautiful flat back, inhale, expanding the belly toward the floor, lifting your gaze to the ceiling, and allowing your tailbone to tilt upwards with your gaze. As you exhale, slowly round your back, bringing your belly button into your spine, chin resting on your chest, and scooping your tailbone down. Repeat for however long you need.
2. Downward Facing Dog
Coming into a flat back, tuck your toes and draw your hips back as you reach your fingertips forward, feeling a gentle stretch in the arms, shoulders, and spine. Pedal your feet if this feels too rigid. Yoga is about easing your way and finding the spots that need a little tender loving care.
3. Forward Fold
From your downward dog, slowly start to walk your feet to your hands. Keeping a gentle, soft bend in your knees. Grab your elbows with opposite hands and allow your head to hang down.
4. Standing Prayer Pose
From your forward fold, take a big inhale through your nose. And as you exhale slowly start to roll up one vertebra at a time. Sweep your arms all the way up with a big inhale. Exhale and bring your hands to prayer, plugging your thumbs into your heartbeat. Take a moment to feel any sensations. If a thought comes into your mind, acknowledge it and let it go with each breath.
5. Child’s Pose
Whether you are in cat/cow or downward dog, slowly bring your knees down to the floor. Allow your torso to relax over your knees as you stretch your arms out in front of you or place them beside each leg, palms facing upwards.
6. Fire Log Pose
It is a known fact that women tend to hold a lot of their stress in their hips. From childbirth to menstrual cycles and menopause, our hips take a lot of the brunt. Fire log pose is a great stress reliever for the hips.
Begin by sitting comfortably. Take your left foot over your right leg (Left ankle on top of the right knee). Slowly start to walk your hands around, feeling the tight spots. Take a few breaths and pause, allowing your body to release the tension through your breath. Repeat on the other side.
7. Legs Up On the Wall
This pose is a great stress reliever as the blood circulation allows your mind to regenerate and refocus, creating a calming effect. Bonus: You can do this anywhere! Begin by removing any clutter from your wall space. Bring your sits bones a few inches away from your wall. Raise both legs and rest the feet up on the wall. You may use a blanket or a block to help support your tailbone. If you feel that your tailbone is tucked, adjust to what is comfortable for you.
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8. Corpse Pose
This pose may be the most essential yoga pose and probably the most difficult. It is simply to do nothing and to think nothing. You have to trust your body to breathe. Don’t hold your breaths but allow the inhales and exhales to come naturally and freely. Lay on your mat, backgrounded into your mat. You may have your palms facing up or down.
Close your eyes and imagine a white light. Inside this white light is one of your most precious memories. A memory where laughter and love are all that surrounds you. Stress is nowhere to be found, and at that moment, you are blissfully content. Hold this pose for as long as you need it.
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