9 Poses For A Post-Summer Meltdown

Here are nine of our top yoga poses for boosting the mood when the weather (or anything else) starts to weigh heavy on us.


It's happening. Our favorite bikinis got stuffed into the back of the drawer. Last year's scarves are coming out. The beach towels ended up on the top shelf of the linen closet. The strappy sandals we've been wearing every day are getting crowded out by boots.

The practice of non-attachment can be a total bish come summer's end, but don't worry. We feel you, and we're not letting the shorter days and colder nights stop us from feeling the good feels. 

Put this playlist on and breathe deep... there's plenty to feel good about, starting with a few of our favourite mood-boosting yoga postures. If you're reading this and thinking, "I don't want to get out of bed..." well, you're in the right place.

START HERE

legs up the wall

WHAT TO DO: 

Scoot your bum against the wall and straighten your legs. Flex your feet gently and breathe deep for five minutes.

WHY?

All the benefits of an inversion, none of the effort.

lazy standing forward fold

WHAT TO DO: 

Start in mountain pose, reaching palms up to bring your arms straight overhead on an inhale, then exhale and fold. Let your knees bend so that your stomach rests against your thighs, then let your head hang heavy and hold onto your elbows. Get in a few good sways back and forth.

WHY?

It's obvious from our playground days that brains like to be turned upside-down.

cat // cow stretch

WHAT TO DO:

Get on all fours, shoulders stacked over wrists, hips stacked over knees. Start with a flat back, then inhale as you begin to arch your back, keeping your head in a neutral position. Exhale and round your spine, breathing deeply from the space between your ribs. Repeat for 10 breaths.

WHY?

Increase blood flow to the discs between your vertebrae, aka the pathway to your head.

Bonus: helps with period cramps!

puppy dog stretch

WHAT TO DO:

Start in the same position as cat & cow. Keep your arms straight and begin inching them forward. Without losing too much of the stack in your hips, lower tummy, chest, and chin towards the ground. Press into your palms and gaze forward (or stick your tongue out at the camera.)

WHY?

'Cuz it's sexy. Nothing puts us in a good mood like feelin' ourselves. 

 

camel pose

WHAT TO DO:

Come up from puppy dog onto your knees, tops of your feet flat against the floor/bed. Tailbone angled down? Hips stacked over knees? Good, now bring your hands into prayer, roll your shoulders back and start to open your chest. When the back bend feels good, ditch the prayer hands and grab your heels. Let your head relax.

WHY?

Camel gives you a wide-open heart and a sense of fearlessness as you bend backwards. 

bridge pose

WHAT TO DO:

Lie on your back, feet close to your bum, arms by your side. Inhale deeply, then exhale as you begin to lift your tailbone and press through your feet. Roll your shoulders underneath you and clasp your hands.

WHY?

Release those crunchy, tense areas in one fell swoop... Strengthen and stretch your back while lengthening and loosening your hamstrings.

shoulder stand

WHAT TO DO:

After lowering down from bridge pose, bring your knees in towards your face. Lift the hips and bring your torso parallel to the wall, supporting your lower back with your hands (fingertips towards the ceiling.) Elbows stay on the ground, shoulder width apart.

WHY?

It calms the nervous system, but unlike many inversions, you don't have to be nervous about getting into the pose *facepalm.*

plow pose

WHAT TO DO:

From shoulder stand, start to lower your legs over your head. Let the tops of your feet land on the floor and "grow" the pose by lifting through the hips and getting taller through your spine. Take five breaths.

WHY?

One last inversion before the big finale.

END UP HERE

reclined bound angle pose

WHAT TO DO:

Unroll from plow pose, lowering slowly onto your back. Let your knees fall open and bring the soles of your feet together, then scoot your heels in towards your pelvis. Place one hand on your tummy and one on your chest. Feel your breath rise and fall.

WHY?

Let the effects of practice wash over you in this restorative stretch. You made it.


Thanks to Allie for demo-ing!

Partnerwork: Downward Facing Dog for Two

In preparation for our P(art)nerwork Acro Yoga Series at Hot Art Wet City, we're giving you some homework. Deepen your poses by working with a partner in a grounding downward facing dog so that you're ready to fly in May (registration live! sign up here).


When I began practicing yoga, one of the first things I learned was that downward facing dog was supposed to be a resting pose. A refuge. A place to breathe. A moment to collect and center during practice. In theory.

 via  Pinterest

Sometimes.

Sometimes, my hamstrings killed, my shoulders were almost touching my ears because I slept in a weird position last night, and I was accidentally constricting my breath while craning to see something that caught my eye on the other side of the room.

 via  Pinterest

Downward facing dog is one of those poses that took me a long time to “get.” It feels like a resting pose now, but it didn’t for the first five years I practiced it. The pose develops grounding, soothing qualities as it becomes more physically familiar.

I don’t mean to say that I was bad at it and now I’m good at it. Rather, form and technique aren’t enough. There’s a certain mental “letting go” in the posture that allows for a rushing sensation of acceptance… the deep stretch and deeper breath follows shortly thereafter.

So how does one find relaxation and relief in downward facing dog pose? There is one thing I’ve found that totally expedites the process and lets the magic sink in.

 

Kum-ba-ya moment *everyone joins hands* ...it’s your friends!  

Offering and receiving physical adjustments in downward dog pose is one of the best ways to get you closer to how the pose is “supposed” to feel.

 

Option 1:

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1. Friend 1: take downward dog pose.

2. Friend 2: stand behind Friend 1, placing your feet just outside their feet, facing the same direction.

3. Place your forearms just above either side of Friend 1’s hip bones and clasp your hands together on top of their back.

4. Bend your knees and lean back, straightening through the arms and creating an arm-belt around Friend 1’s back. This will release the pressure from their hands and shoulders, as well as take tension off of their lower back. Take several deep breaths here, then stand and release your grip.

 

Option 2:

1. Friend 1: take downward dog pose.

2. Friend 2: stand facing Friend 1’s head, with your feet placed outside their hands.

3. Place your hands on their sacrum (lower back), bend your arms, and lower your chest onto their back. Release your hands and use them to rotate Friend 1’s thighs inward, move their shoulders away from their ears, and release tension from their neck. After several deep breaths, bring your hands back to their hips and push yourself slowly to standing.

 

 

 

7 Yoga Poses For Marathon Runners

The Vancouver Marathon is right around the corner, and we're already thinking in recovery mode. Whether you're gearing up for the full 42.2, or just taking Sparky for a long jog, these seven moves will help you un-tighten and unwind after a long run. 


1. Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe Pose

WHAT TO DO: Start laying down (hooray!) Lift one leg up to meet your hand, grabbing your big toe by hooking your thumb around your index and middle fingers. If you're wearing shoes, grab the outside. Take 10 breaths, then release your hands to the floor. Keeping your palms flat against the ground, rotate your leg outward for 5 breaths, and then over and across your body for five breaths.

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Wake up your hamstrings and open up your hips with the help of gravity. You can even do this one in bed.

 

2. Bound Angle Pose

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WHAT TO DO: Start in butterfly, then using your hands, rotate the bottoms of your feet up like you're opening a book. Straighten your spine and tuck your chin, then take 8-10 breaths. Then, without curving into your spine, lean as far forward as you can. Take five breaths here. Finally, let your back round and bring your head down to your feet. Hold for five breaths. 

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: For your inner thighs, groin, and knees. This is one pose you can easily control the intensity of.

 

3. Hero Pose

WHAT TO DO: Kneel on the ground with your heels wider apart than your knees. Sink your butt down in between your feet, straighten your spine, and take 10 deep breaths. If this feels too intense, put a blanket between your calves and thighs and a pillow/block under your butt for support.

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Because you're a hero. Stretch your quad muscles AND tap into the knees and ankle joints.

 

4. Upward Facing Dog Pose

WHAT TO DO: Start lying on your stomach, placing your palms spread beside your waist. On an inhale, begin to straighten your arms and lift your torso and legs off of the floor. Only the bottom of your hands and tops of your feet should touch the ground. Pull your shoulders back and open your heart, then take 30 seconds and breathe.

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Because your legs aren't doing all the work. Upward dog stretches out your chest, lungs, shoulders, and abs.

 

5. Downward Facing Dog Pose

WHAT TO DO: Get onto all fours (shoulders over wrists, hips over knees) and spread your fingers wide. On an exhale, tuck your toes under and begin to straighten your legs, pushing back through your shoulders. Think of arching your back, butt to the sky. Reach your heels towards the ground, keep your head tucked down. Take a minute of slow, deep breaths here.


WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Stretch your shoulders, hamstrings, calves, arches, and hands while strengthening arms and legs. Save your legs from epically tight hamstrings (aka perma-bent knee) by hitting down dog on the regular. 

 

6. Pigeon Pose

WHAT TO DO: Start in downward facing dog, then bring your right knee forward to touch your right wrist and right foot forward towards your left hand. Lower down onto your leg, untucking your back toes, flexing your front foot, and keeping hipbones parallel. If this is comfortable, you can begin to fold forward over your leg. Stay here for two minutes.

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Your psoas (what?) will thank you.

 

7. Rabbit Pose

WHAT TO DO: Starting in child pose, grab your heels and begin to pull your head in towards the knees by rounding the spine. Inhale and lift your hips, rolling towards the crown of the head. Take 10 breaths, then return to child pose.

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Give the spine, back, arms, and shoulders a deep stretch. Breathe in through your nose, sigh out through your mouth. You made it.


Thanks our resident marathon-finisher, Allie, for modeling!

4 tips for acroyoga beginners

Thinking on your feet is an intuitive skill. Thinking on someone else's feet? Perhaps a little less natural. The good news is, it doesn't take long to catch the acro yoga buzz. 


There's a growing acro yoga community world-wide, and because it's one of the newer, lesser-known styles of yoga, acroyogis are always looking for beginners to play with. Jams (acro yoga play sessions) are often hosted in parks, for free. So beyond being socially rewarding and physically challenging, acro yoga is also economically awesome. Sold? Let's get started!

 acro yoga is for everyone!

acro yoga is for everyone!

Well, acroyoga is a partner activity, so you need pals (without foot phobias). In class, students are usually divided into groups of 3. There's the base, who's the person on the ground, and the flyer, who's the person in the air. There's also the spotter, who makes sure the flyer doesn't go flying.

Each person takes turns practicing poses in all three roles. It's encouraged to take on each position with equal amounts of determination and attention, despite that innate human tendency towards picking a preference (I'm an avid flyer; my roommate loves basing... and we still *only slightly begrudgingly* change it up when we practice.) It's all about finding balance.

 image via  Pinterest

image via Pinterest

The things that make acroyoga work are the things that make any other relationship work. 

1. Trust your partner.

Simply put, they can feel it if you don't, and it won't work until you both learn to trust each other. 

2. Don't fear falling.

You've got a spot. Like driving, no one wants to crash. That said, you're a couple feet off the ground and you're moving pretty slowly. If you do land on your partner, land in a hug. How sweet.

 one fell swoop away from a hug in Delores Park, San Francisco

one fell swoop away from a hug in Delores Park, San Francisco

3. It's not personal.

Sometimes the base will drop the flyer. Sometimes their big toe goes into your kidney while trying to balance you in bird pose. They're not trying to hurt you, and you're not trying to mess them up. These things are best dealt with by using objective requests (think: "let's readjust" or a quick and calm "down" when you're not feeling stable basing or flying.)

4. Take things slowly.

This is acro yoga. There's no race to the finish, and bending into shapes is best done with steadiness. Moving faster means less control. Developing a comfortable sense of stability with your partner is key, because flipping off of someone's feet is only fun when you know those feet have got your back.

 image via  Pinterest

image via Pinterest

7 YOGA POSES FOR CYCLISTS

We know a few people in town doing The Ride to Conquer Cancer this weekend and we couldn't be more inspired. Whether you're biking 200+ kms on the regs, bike to work, or bike the sea wall on sunny days, these super simple poses are for you.

Yoga model: Andrea Barber repping her team-  To The Max Cycling. 

1. CAT/ COW

WHAT TO DO: Get onto all fours (shoulders over wrists, hips over knees). 
INHALE- arch the spine, dip belly, look up. Think of pulling the chest forwards and up between the hands.
EXHALE- round the spine, tuck the tailbone, look to bellybutton. Think of pushing the ground away from you. 

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Cat/cow is everyone's favourite yoga warm up for the spine. It's also a great opportunity to stretch out any tightness in the shoulders & chest. 

2. VARIATION ON PUPPY/ CHILD'S POSE

WHAT TO DO: From Pose #1, weave right arm underneath/ through the left. Roll to the outside of the right shoulder and take the right cheek to the mat. Shift hips slightly to the right to get deeper in to the stretch. Breath into your upper back/ space between the shoulder blades.

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Goodbye tight shoulders! 

3. CAMEL PREP POSE (OR FULL CAMEL) 

WHAT TO DO: Come on to your knees and take the knees hip width's distance apart. (Toes can be tucked or untucked). Heel of the hands to the lower back, start to slide your tailbone down, roilling the pelvis forwards. Hips come forwards as you start to send your chest towards the sky. You can stop here or continue on into full camel by walking your hands down the back of your legs and taking hold of your heels. Gaze can be up overhead or at your bellybutton if the former bothers your neck. Focus on keeping your breath full, hips forward (to avoid dumping into lower back), elbows gathered together and shoulders back and down. 

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: After hours of being hunched over, stretch out your front body with this super simple pose. 

4. DOWN DOG- CALF STRETCH

WHAT TO DO: From all fours, tuck your toes, and push your hips back and up towards the sky. Alternate between bending and straightening one leg at a time, focusing on digging the ball of your foot into the mat each time while sinking the opposite leg's heel into the ground (take a step back if needed so that you feel a reach in the extended leg.)

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: To get those tires spinning, the backs of your legs are working overtime. Soothe them with this little bonus in downward dog. 

5. HALF SPLIT- IT BAND & TWIST/ CHEST OPENER VARIATION

WHAT TO DO: From downward dog, step left foot forwards between the hands. Lower right knee to the ground. Start to send your hips back so they stack overtop of the right knee while straightening the left leg- working on pushing/ sliding the heel (flexed foot!) away from you. From here, take left hand to left hip crease and push the left hip back. Keep right hand on the ground as you extend left hand to the sky. 

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Another juicy one for the legs- this pose was actually one of Andrea's favourite picks. It does quadruple duty- stretching out the hammies, the IT Band, and the chest while acting as a twist as well. 

6. PYRAMID POSE

WHAT TO DO: Standing tall on your mat, step right foot back on the mat while keeping the front leg bent. Feet should be hip width's distance apart and long enough of a stance so that you feel a reach in your back heel and a stretch down your back leg. There will be a 45 degree turnout to the back foot. Plug into the heel of the back foot to push the right hip forwards (to square the hips). With spine straight, start to hinge forwards while straightening the front leg. Bum will push back (slight arch in the lower back to keep the lower back flat). Fingertips can reach for the ground, the front shin, or blocks. If the ground feels really far away, take hands to hips. Try to avoid roundness in the upper back by engaging the shoulder blades. 

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: More hammies/ back of leg stretching because they're probably feeling pretty sore. 

7. MODIFIED RABBIT POSE

WHAT TO DO: Sit down with knees bent to the sky and feet on the ground. Weave right arm underneath right calf and top of left shin. Weave left arm underneath left calf and on top of right shin. Walk heels close to your sitting bones. Tuck forehead towards knees and chin into chest. Allow roundness in the upper back and start to straighten the arms as you pull away. You don't need to go very far to feel this right in between the shoulder blades. 

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Another one of Andrea's favs, this pose is a great one for the upper back/ shoulders. 

7 YOGA POSES TO DO ON THE WATER

There's no denying it- it's officially summer.  I'm sleeping with the windows open and taking any opportunity I can to soak up some good ol' Vitamin D. 

One of my favourite ways to get outdoors, without compromising a yoga practice, is to do Stand Up Paddle Yoga. As a newly minted instructor as of last year, I'm always trying to hustle friends into joining me on the water. Renting a paddle board is easy enough through various outlets (My personal favourite is Deep Cove Kayaks) although I highly recommend taking a SUP lesson first- may I suggest the guys and gals at Stand Up Paddle Vancouver?

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NEED TO KNOWS:

  • While you can paddle pretty much anywhere, find a safe, sheltered space away from boat traffic & rocks to do your yoga
  • Most official SUP yoga classes use an anchoring system- either you're tied up to a rope or you have a little anchor that you can drop overboard. I highly recommend getting one for yourself, otherwise you may just down dog wherever the wind blows you and end up miles away from where you started.
  • The middle of the board (where the handle is) is the most balanced part of the board. Imagine drawing two lines on the board with a vertical line running through the handle and a horizontal line running across the handle. You've now, through the power of your imagination, divided your board into quadrants! The more parts of you in the various quadrants, the more balanced you will feel. 
  • What to do with the paddle? You can wrap your board leash around it! (Note: in the photos, my leash is still on and the paddle is across the board --> not recommended for comfort.) 
  • If you're nervous about falling over/ swimming, please keep your life jacket on! The board is a natural floatation device- so long as you're attached to it with your leash (see above point) 
  • If you're going to fall in, commit to the fall! Sometimes it's more trouble to stop yourself from falling (and you may hurt yourself/ hit yourself on the board). 
  • Go slow, listen to your body.
  When standing up on a paddleboard, go slow! Get your feet into position and engage your core as you lift your hands off the board and rise to stand. 

When standing up on a paddleboard, go slow! Get your feet into position and engage your core as you lift your hands off the board and rise to stand. 

Once you've got a hang for the board, here are some poses you can play around with (Tips included. But please note: expect to get wet- that's part of the fun!)

1. CAT/ COW

WHAT TO DO:
From a kneeling position, position belly button over top of the handle of the board, hands beneath shoulders and knees beneath hips. (Note: each knee and hand is now in one of the aforementioned quadrants --> this is a super stable position). Inhale, drop belly low and look to the sky. Exhale, press into your palms and round your spine, look to your bellybutton. 

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS:
It's a great way to start your practice, get some mobility in the spine, and get a feel for the board while feeling balanced. 

2. DOWNWARD DOG

WHAT TO DO
From Cat/cow, press into your hands, tuck your toes and lift your seat up towards the sky. Work to straighten the legs and look to your knees. Drop shoulders away from the ears, and breath. 

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS
The quintessential yoga pose --> a SUP yoga practice wouldn't be complete without it! It's also an unreal experience to see things upside down from a paddleboard and this is a relatively easy way to get your head below your hips without worrying about falling over. (Note: you are still in all four quadrants) 

3. LOW LUNGE

WHAT TO DO
From kneeling or downward dog, take your right foot just ahead and to the right of the handle and your left knee behind and to the left of your handle (adjust as needed --> the knee can travel further back towards the tail of the board (behind the left hip- pictured) for more of a stretch) Squeeze the inner thighs, engage the core, look ahead and lift your arms up overhead for the full expression. Take a few breaths here before switching sides. 

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS
A great way to get a little bit more of a balance (Your front foot is in one quadrant and your back knee is in the other) without coming too high off of the board. Oh yeah, and it stretches out the hip flexors and opens up the heart. 

4. WARRIOR 1

WHAT TO DO:
From cat/cow/ tabletop, take your right foot just ahead and to the right of the handle. Tuck your left toes and extend your left leg behind you keeping fingertips on the board. Plant your left foot firmly at a 45 degree angle. Anchor down through the left heel (engage those muscles!), squeeze the core, inner thighs, and rise up slowly. Breath, come on down, and switch sides. 

Note: this is a way harder on a board than it is on a mat! You'll notice right away if you favour your front leg over your back leg.

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS
This is a great opportunity to notice your patterns and habits in your mat yoga practice. 

5. WARRIOR 2

WHAT TO DO:
From kneeling, step your right foot ahead of your handle, in line with the handle. With hands on the board, tuck your left toes and extend your left leg behind you. Turn the left foot so that it's flat on the board and aligned in such a way that it is perpendicular to the handle. Slowly, steadily, and with even pressure on both feet, come up to stand while maintaining a bend in the front knee. Pull the bellybutton in and drop the tailbone to engage the core and keep your balance here. Take a few breaths before coming down and switching sides. 

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS:
While this pose looks deceivingly simple on land, on the water it's a whole other story. Ever heard of a yoga teacher compare warrior 1 and warrior 2? Warrior 1 is like you're "straddling a railroad track" and Warrior 2 is like "walking a tight rope". You'll definitely feel the tight rope quality once you're on the water. There is also the extra bonus challenge of not having a point to focus on as everything in your vision bobs a bit when you're on the water. 

6. BRIDGE

WHAT TO DO
Come down to sit with your bum overtop of the handle. Lie down on your back, knees bent and feet hip width distance apart. Slide your feet closer towards your seat and with an inhale breath, lift your tailbone off the board Hands can interlace underneath your spine (pictured). 

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS
It isn't a yoga class without a good cool down! You can open your heart and watch the clouds at the same time. 

7. SAVASANA

WHAT TO DO:
Lie on your back. 
Optional: fingertips can graze the top of the water.

WHY SHOUD I DO THIS:
This is seriously the best part- why wouldn't you do this?? 
You haven't had a good savasana until you've had it on a paddleboard. #justsaying

 

7 YOGA POSES FOR WHEN YOU'VE PUNCHED SOMEONE'S FACE OUT

Now let me just throw it out there that we don't condone violence, but there are times when a good 1-2 just feels so damn'ed good. One of those times is when you're knocking someone out in the name of charity. Our gal pal Ashley B- yoga teacher extraordinare is swapping her Garudasana for Gloves this summer as a part of the Aprons for Gloves Restaurant Rumble fundraiser for Eastside Boxing- a boxing gym for inner city youth.  On the blog today, she demos some great post-punch yoga poses to help complement her strict training regime. 

1. SCORPION STRETCH (NOT TO BE CONFUSED WITH SCORPION FOREARM STAND/ HANDSTAND) 

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WHAT TO DO: Lying on your belly, extend your right arm out to the side- palms facing down. Start to roll on to your right side by pushing yourself up with your left hand by your chest. If it feels okay, take your left foot to the outside of your right leg. Rest on your right cheek/ right temple. 8 breaths or so and switch sides

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Open up those pecs that are probably feeling pretty tight after a few rounds. 

2. REVERSE WARRIOR WITH COW FACE ARMS

WHAT TO DO: Take your feet into warrior 2 stance (front foot points to the front of the mat, back foot parallel to short edge/ back of mat). Take your front arm up and over while reaching your back arm around behind you and up- grasping for fingertips. All good if you don't fully reach, just tug on your shirt (pictured). Focus on taking your elbows away from your face, sliding shoulder blades back and down and drawing the tops of the shoulders away from the ears. Start to lean back, lifting your front elbow up towards the ceiling. Feet are firmly rooted. To avoid a huge arch in the lower back (aka a no-no), engage your abdominals to contain your ribcage/ draw the front ribs in. 8 breaths or so before switching sides. 

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Odd names aside, this is THE pose to do if you want the feeling of brand new shoulders. 

3. WIDE LEGGED FORWARD FOLD, INTERLACED FINGERS

WHAT TO DO: From warrior 2, turn your front foot so that it is parallel to your back foot. Alternatively take a wider than hip-width stance. Soften knees and hinge forwards, sending tailbone to the sky. Interlace fingers behind your back, working on glueing the heels of the hands together. Release through the back of the neck & let the top of your head drop to the ground. 8 breaths or so. 

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Hamstrings, more chest opening/ stretching through the front of the shoulders. 

4. SIDE LUNGE

WHAT TO DO: From Wide Legged Forward Fold, turn your back foot out to 45 degrees and start to bend into the back knee as you flip your front foot so that your toes point towards the ceiling. Go down as low as you can (Ash is rocking it and super bendy here), working on dropping your front inner thigh to the ground. 

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: To stretch out the muscles you never knew you had- including your groin. 

5. HALF SPLIT- LITTLE BONUS SOMETHIN' SOMETHIN' FOR THE CALVES

WHAT TO DO: From downward dog, step one foot between your hands, lower your back knee. Start to slide your hips back halfway (until hips stack overtop of back knee) and extend your front leg. Flex your front foot. Focus on sliding your extended leg hip back, and other hip forwards, dropping belly to thigh, and maintaining a flat spine. 

If you want the extra somethin' something' for the calves, bend your front leg enough to take hold of your toes with your opposite hand. Start to draw your toes towards your shin as you press your heel away, working to straighten the front leg. Take 8 or so breaths before switching sides. 

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: Your calves are probably sore from staying light on your feet/ bouncing around- give them this for some TLC.

6. OPEN TWIST

WHAT TO DO: From seated, extend your legs out ahead of you. Take your right foot to the outside of your left knee, making sure both sitbones are firmly rooted. Twist towards your left, using your left hand behind you as a brace. Keep chest proud and spine long. 8 breaths or so before switching sides. 

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: To counteract the twisting & stretch out all the core muscles that are used when you punch. 

7. COBBLERS POSE

WHAT TO DO: From seated, take the soles of the feet together, knees apart. Place your hands on the bottoms of your feet and focus on prying the feet away (like you're opening a book). Don't worry too much about pulling the feet in closer or pushing your knees down- it'll happen in due time. Option to fold forwards over feet or stay upright. 8-10 breaths. 

WHY SHOULD I DO THIS: A mellow hip opener is always a great way to end things off. Fun fact- this pose is alternatively called Butterfly pose. Now go sting like a bee, you butterfly. 

 

Note: Ashley B along with two other friends of Social Yoga are hosting a stellar fundraising event at Fortune Nightclub this Friday. Check out details here: https://www.facebook.com/events/630195330457912/

 

6 YOGA POSES FOR SURFERS (OR THOSE WHO WISH THEY WERE ONE)

While we're up freezing our buns off here in the Great White North, our friend & yoga teacher Fredrika is playing in the sun with the Great Whites downunder. We are so stoked to have her be a blog contributor- this chick has some serious yoga game and is up to some fun things this year. She'll be moving back home to Europe towards the end of the year but not before leading a few retreats in Bali and teaching classes in Melbourne. You can learn more about her on her instagram

Oh Australia..

Are you, like me, imagining yourself on a beach, tanned, with salty hair and a surfboard under your arm running down towards the water? Well after my first surf lesson it is safe to say I am no natural. Not only am I absolutely freezing in a wetsuit, my arms are tired and I am bruised all over. Not glamorous.

Like anything else, becoming somewhat good at surfing takes a lot of practice and patience. Whether you are a pro surfer who spends the whole day in the water or just a beach bum casually posing next to surfboards after giving up after ten minutes, you might end up sore and stiff after your surf session. 

So we know yoga stretches you out, but in this case, it'll also help you amp up your surfing skills.  Yoga improves balance and core strength & as you can imagine, this comes in pretty handy when you are balancing on a board in the water. On top of this, yoga will increase your capacity for full breaths and your ability to control your breathing. This will prevent you from becoming short of breath and having to paddle in to land after only a few rides. All of those surf-yoga retreats are on to something.

I've gathered some of the best postures to add to your post-surf ritual. However, it is needless to say that any yoga postures will benefit you. And like anything else, if some of these postures don't suit your body or don't feel good, just skip them- no hard feelings. 

 

1. PUPPY POSE

What to do: Begin on all fours in a table top position and start to walk your hands forward so that you can lower your chest and either forhead, or chin for a deeper strech, down towards the ground. To really open up through the chest, come up onto your fingertips and melt your heart down further, staying active through your arms.

Why should I do this: This postures is going to soften chest and shoulders and feel like a good release after a heavy paddle session.

2. DOWNWARD FACING DOG

What to do & Why: The classic downward dog has so many different benefits but for surfers, above all, it offers a stretch for shoulders, hamstrings and calves which strengthening wrists, arms and thighs. However, doing this posture on the beach pre or post surf calls for extra caution of your wrists since excessive pressure is put on them in the soft sand. Press down through base of your index finger and thumb as you activate through the muscles in the palms of your hands, drawing your pinky finger to your thumb slightly to prevent you from dumping the weight into the base of your wrist.

3. WARRIOR TWO

What to do: Be aware of your alignment and stack your front knee over ankle making sure it does not fall inwards. Press the outside of the backfoot in towards the floor, especially on the beach, to ground the whole sole of the foot in towards the earth. The more active you stay through your arms the more you are going to get those strengthening benefits. Stay for at least five deep breath and then do the same on the other side.  

Why should I do this: Warrior two is an excellent posture for building stamina and working on your breath. It strengthens the legs and stretches the hips and groin. 

4. TWISTED WIDE LEGGED FORWARD FOLD

What to do & Why: The wide legged forward fold stretches your hamstrings, calves and lower back. Adding in the twist digs in to shoulders, upper back and into your hips as well. It lengthens the spine and can also relieve neck and shoulder tension. Focus on lifting sit bones up, drawing shoulder blades together and the rotation of the torso. As your head is below the heart it can also promote a calmer mind. Overall, an amazing posture both before and after surfing.

5. BOAT POSE

What to do & Why: Working both your core strength and balance, this posture is the perfect variation to work your core when you need something new to add to your regular plank workout. Building balance is going to help you on the board as well, even though the posture is seated.  Place your focus on keeping your chest up, shoulders back and the core engage. To make it harder, slowly lower down towards the ground, hovering shoulders, arms, hands and legs off the ground and then lift back up with control.

6. SEATED FORWARD FOLD

What to do & Why: The seated forward fold stretches the back of your legs and the whole spine. Keep your feet flexed with the toes pointing up and lengthen the spine with each inhale, relaxing deeper on each exhale. Perfect to do before jumping in the water to relax the mind, and after you come back on land to stretch out the hammies and calves. An all time favourite!

3 YOGA POSES FOR THINKING

You know that feeling when you just can't stop running around with the thoughts in your mind? It's exhausting. Whether you're low on brainstorming juices, need to make a decision, or just clear your head, here are three poses that are tried, tested, and true. 

1. CHILD'S POSE

What to do: Get on your knees, take the big toes together and knees out wide and reach your arms ahead of you while sitting your bum back to your heels. Let your chest and belly fall through towards the ground and just breath. If you want to take the variation in the photo, take your hands to prayer hands and place them behind your head to free up your upper back and shoulders. 

Note: You can also place a blanket or cushion underneath your knees and underneath your bum (between sitbones and heels) for comfort.

Bring your awareness to the ground beneath you (really feeling the points of contact- knees, feet, forehead, elbows, etc) and your breath- counting out 8-10 breaths or more. 

Why should I do this: Not only is this a very humbling posture as you are quite literally bowing down to your yoga mat/ the "universe"; but also, with the hands behind the head, it allows you to feel "protected" and creates a safe space for you to just sit with your breath for a moment. By focusing on the breath, you allow all the thoughts to fall away one by one until you get a sense of clarity. 

2. FORWARD FOLD  

What to do: From standing, take your feet to hip width distance apart. Soften your knees and focus on pushing your bum back and up as you hinge forwards at the hips. Drop the top of your head towards the ground to relax the back of your neck.

Note: Knees can stay bent to free up the hamstrings, or to allow for fingers to touch the ground. Other alternatives are to take hold of opposite elbows. 

Once again, count out 8-10 breaths or more. 

Why should I do this: When we feel like our thoughts are all over the place, it's often helpful to look inwards to see what that little voice inside says. This is a pose in which we are doing this on a very physical level, and as a result, facilitates it on a mental level. 

3. TEDDY BEAR STAND/ HEADSTAND

What to do: From all fours, take the very top of your head (eg. NOT the forehead) to the ground (or in my case, a folded up blanket). Take your hands and place them to either side of your head, just in front of your face so that your head and your two hands form a triangle-esque shape. You want to be able to see your hands from your peripheral vision. Press firmly into your hands and squeeze the elbows in towards your body (think: chata pushup). Tuck your toes and come into downward dog legs. Walk your feet in close to your face --> this will take your bum overtop of your shoulders with an element of control. When you feel like your bum is stacked overtop of your shoulders (note: you will feel this, there's no second guessing this sensation as you feel remotely steady), lift your feet on the ground and place your knees on your triceps continuing to squeeze your elbows in. 

To get into headstand: Pressing firmly into your hands and staying strong through your arms and rhomboids (between your shoulder blades), start to tip your weight so that your bum is overtop of your shoulders even more. You will need to pull your lower belly in/ core in to help stabilize. From there, you will slowly lift your knees off of your arms (as seen in the second picture) and eventually straighten your legs up overhead. 

For a step by step photo version, check out one of our fav gals- Carolyn Budgell here. 
 

Tip: Make sure there's plenty of room on the other side of you. If you feel yourself falling out, tuck (chin in!) and roll! Also, note that you want VERY LITTLE weight on your actual head. Your hands and arms and core are keeping you up. 

Why should I do this: You are literally flipping your perspective. Headstands are also a little bit playful and take us all out of our element, which in turn helps us lighten up. After all, why so serious? 

8 Post-Shred Sess Yoga Poses

If you live on the south west coast of BC like me, you're probably lamenting the early demise of our ski season (collective boooooo). Lucky for me, I spent last weekend in the interior with the blessed white stuff and after spending the weekend snowboarding, am feeling pretty darn sore. Whether you managed to only get a few runs in this season or you're living somewhere where you are fortunate enough to have some good powder, here are some of my go-to recovery poses. 

1.  SEATED HIPS TO HEELS- TUCKED TOES. 

What to do: We'll keep it simple to start. Come on to your knees (shaggy faux fur carpet optional) and sit your hips to your heels. Tuck your toes and work to keep a tall spine as you take 8-10 breaths here. Be warned: the first few breaths feel like nothing. Eventually you'll feel a creeping sensation akin to a tingle and then a slow burn. Helloooo arches! 

Why should I do this: After a full day of being cramped into stiff boots, this will bring some life back to your tootsies. 

2. CHILD'S POSE

What to do: From your knees, slide your arms forwards and drop your chest to the ground. Press your hips further to your heels. (Optional) take your hands to prayer hands and bring the heel of your hands against the base of your skull to find more space along your shoulders. Stay here for 8-10 breaths or longer as you please. 

Why should I do this: Child's pose is a go-to position of rest. It's also a great way to connect with your breath and chill out after a day full of adrenaline. In this variation, you'll find space in your upper back, along your underarms, as well as length in you lower back.

3. DOWNWARD DOG

What to do: From Child's pose, tuck your toes, stretch your hands long ahead of you again if you took the variation, and press back with your hips high. Focus on sliding your shoulders back and down and perking your tailbone up. Feel free to walk out the heels/ pedal the feet to ease into your hammies and calves. Note: heels do not have to touch the ground.  8-10 breaths or however long you like. 

Why should I do this: Make the backs of your legs happy happy campers. Your hamstrings and calves will thank you. 

4. LOW LUNGE

What to do: From downward dog, step your right foot between your hands. Reach your arms up overhead for one breath before letting them land, stacked, on top of your right thigh. Press actively into your hands as you lean back and send your hipbones forwards (think: thrust a la saturday night style). Shoulders stay stacked overtop of hips and chest lifted. In the picture, the back leg is at a slightly deeper angle. You can also dial it back and have both legs at 90 degrees. Stay for 8-10 breaths before switching sides. 

Why should I do this: Hip flexors & quads will feel so so good after this. 

5. HALF SPLIT

What to do: From low lunge, take your hands to the ground and press back until your hips are stacked overtop of your back leg at an approx 90 degree angle. Work to straighten and lengthen front leg. The kicker here is to bring your front foot to flatten on the ground. Squeeze shoulder blades together, push your tailbone back and work to draw belly to thigh. 8-10 breaths and switch sides. 

Why should I do this: Again with the hammies and calves. The bonus here is a stretch for the top of the foot which will probably be feeling pretty tight from carving all day in stuffy boots. 

6. BOUND SIDE ANGLE

What to do: This one's a bit tricker but there are different levels to stop at. From downward facing dog, step your left foot between your hands. Spin your back foot to the side (so that front heel, were it to slide back, would intersect back foot's arch). You're going to come up for a moment into warrior 2 (front knee bent, arms out to the side).

Stop #1: Take your right arm around your lower back into a half bind. Take your left forearm to your thigh. Work on stacking shoulder overtop of shoulder. 

Stop #2: Sweep left arm underneath left leg (arm slides along the left inner thigh before wrapping underneath) and look for right fingertips behind your back. Press your arms and torso back into your left leg as you scoop your tailbone under and drive hips forward. Lean back and keep collarbones wide. Think of pressing just as actively into your back foot as you are into your front fot. 

Optional: As pictured, lengthen your neck diagonally back and to the side (as if you're trying to draw a line from your chin to the outside edge of your back foot.)

8 breaths before switching sides. 

Why should I do this: So here's where I admit I'm no pro. I caught a few edges and had a few nasty wipe outs this weekend. Result? Whiplash. This pose allowed me to open up my shoulders (which were all hunched over from lack of confidence on the slopes.. hah) while stretching out the front of my neck safely. 

7. NINJA DEATH STAR POSE (WORKING TITLE) 

What to do: Note: If your knees aren't feeling too great, feel free to skip this pose. Even if your knees do feel great, make sure you have substantial padding around. Blankets, pillows, shaggy faux fur rugs and rolled up yoga mats are all good options. 

Take your padding and place it about 6 inches away from the wall. From here, with hands on the ground, nestle your right knee onto the padding and step your left foot in front of you in a half lunge. Take your hands to your left thigh and press firmly to lean back (lunge style- shoulders stack over hips). Thrust your hip bones forwards. Optional: Take right hand to sole of right foot and press down firmly. 8-10 breaths then switch sides. 

Advanced: Take your padding right up to where the wall and the floor meet. You're going to then come into the pose and lean back until your sitbones and shoulders make contact with the wall. 

Why should I do this: So the name of the pose is kind of silly (It's what it was called during my teacher training with Amy Ippoliti), however you'll notice that isn't a laugh but a straight up GRIMACE on my face. That's because it hurts so good. Your quads will never feel more open. 

8. RECLINED TWIST

What to do: After contorting your body into the above shapes, lie down and take your knees in towards your chest. Let your knees drop over to the right as you gaze to the left. Arms can be as they are in the picture or take them out wide (a la capital "T") or cactus arms (a la cactus plant). 8-10 breaths or longer before switching sides. 

Why should I do this: With boarding there is a lot of twisting of the hips and shoulders involved. This is a chill and easy way to realign with a controlled twist while maintaining mobility/ range of motion. If your arms are out wide, you will have a bonus chest stretch. Your lower back and aforementioned whiplashed neck will also feel so so good here. Mmmmm

So there you have it. A few poses to help you hurt a little less the next day. Pair this with some beers and a hot tub bath with friends and you'll be golden. 

Yoga in Bed

& no, we don't mean getting bendy in bed with a partner (not that kind of blog). This is for those times when you're feeling so stiff (again- not that kind of blog) and sore, and also so damn'ed lazy, you don't want to get out of bed. 

 Cheat on Saturday night & have a yoga party in bed.

Cheat on Saturday night & have a yoga party in bed.

1. Legs up the wall 

WHAT TO DO: 
Shimmy your behind to where your mattress meets your headboard and/ or where your bed meets the wall. Slide your legs up the wall and shimmy a little closer still. You may want to place a pillow under your seat for some extra/ added lift. 

WHAT IT DOES:
If you walk or stand all day, had a really intense legs day at the gym, just did your first spin class, or spent all night in heels, THIS IS YOUR BFF. Trust me on this. Kiss swollen puffy feet goodbye as you let gravity assist your body in redirecting blood from your legs back into your heart. 

2. Pigeon Pose

WHAT TO DO:
Flip onto your belly (assuming you're a back sleeper). Press yourself up for a moment so you can slide your right knee, just inside of your right wrist. Lengthen your left leg behind you. Feel free to take some pillows to prop your right bum up to help you square off you hips. Bury your face into your pillow fortress and enjoy for a few minutes before you switch sides.

WHAT IT DOES:
Tight glutes/ outer hips are no match for pigeon pose. 

3. Pillow (supported) Poses 

WHAT TO DO:
Slide a pillow under your bum. You have the option to take the soles of your feet together and knees apart as well. 

Note: If you want to get complicated/ technical, make sure your pelvis isn't tucked under. An easy way to test this is to check to see if you still have a slight arch in your lower back. 

WHAT IT DOES:
Any bros reading this will understand how pillows are lifesavers (cheeky inappropriate comment, my bad). The added lift of the pillow helps to elevate your hips above your knees and release your hip flexors-which for a lot of us is perpetually tight. It's like when the teacher in yoga class suggests sitting on a foam brick or a block- except this block is soft and instead of sitting, you get to lie down. 
 

4. Thread the needle 

WHAT TO DO:
Lie on your back. Take the outside edge of your right foot/ right ankle and place it on top of your left knee. Reach up and take hold of the back of your left thigh before lying back down onto your cozy bed. Use each exhale breath to draw your left knee closer and focus on softening your right hip so that your right knee can naturally open up a little bit further. Keep shoulders, neck, and face relaxed. Stay here for a few minutes, and switch. 

WHAT IT DOES
This pose is like a pigeon on its back, so again, we're working to get the glutes & outer hips nice and soft. (Restraining from making an inappropriate comment here)