When Christine Bullock, our resident Fitness Guru, shared her favorite daily yoga flow sequence this month, we have to admit we were a little surprised. “But you’re invincible!” we said, wondering about tips for our tummies, butts and thighs. Turns out Christine’s approach is not only about cultivating a killer body, but a beautiful heart that radiates warmth and vitality throughout the day.
The once professional ballet dancer explained:
“My daily yoga practice helps me to cultivate an attitude of renewal and center myself for the day. A tired, stiff body cannot grow and adapt to your workouts, so it’s important to spend time daily on nurturing your body and preparing yourself for the day.”
So here you have it, folks. Enter Christine with her daily, pre-workout routine to get you reenergized and ready for more.
1. Hip Openers
Did you know that women hold many of their emotions in their hips? Use these first three hip opening poses to clear out the stale emotions that you may be unknowingly holding onto as tension in this area. Resist the urge to force yourself into the poses, instead deepen slowly with your breath.
Begin in a seated position with your hands planted shoulder width apart on the mat in front of you. Extend your left leg straight behind you, while using your hands to support your torso as you keep your right shin on the mat in front of you. Encourage your shin to lie parallel to the front of your mat. Square your hips to the front and balance your weight in the center of your body. Sink deeper into the pose for three breathes. Switch sides.
Begin in a lunge with your right leg forward and left leg back. Using your hands for support, glide your left leg back to deepen the lunge so that you can place your forearms on the floor inside of your right ankle. Keep your right knee directly over your right ankle and continue to push out of your left heel to straighten your left leg. Relax and release through your right hip for three breathes. Switch sides.
Modification: If balancing is difficult, lower your left knee to the mat to keep the focus on the stretch in your hips.
Stand with your feet as wide as the mat. Lower into a deep squat. (Keep your heels on the floor if you can; otherwise, support them on a folded mat.) Press the palms together into prayer and open elbows wide, pressing them into your thighs to assist in hip opening. Lengthen your torso and sit up tall. Hold the position for three breathes, then come to standing.
Modification: If squatting is difficult, sit on the front edge of a chair seat, thighs forming a right angle to your torso, heels on the floor slightly ahead of your knees. Lean your torso forward between the thighs.
2. Detoxing Twists
I use these twisting poses daily to wring out stagnant emotions and negativity. Be sure to lengthen your torso as you twist to create new space for growth.
Twisted Wide Leg Forward Fold
Begin standing with feet wider than hip distance apart. Fold forward at the waist and reach your left hand to the outside of your right ankle. Rest your right arm gently across your lower back. Use your left arm to encourage your left shoulder towards your right side and open your chest to the right. Hold the pose for three breathes. Switch sides.
Begin lying on your back with your arms by your side and your legs zipped together. Use your core to draw your legs up overhead while you shift your weight to your shoulders. Hinging at your waist and keeping your knees straight, bring your toes to touch the ground above your right shoulder. Push through your heels to intensify the stretch. Keep your chin down and gaze forward to protect your neck. Breathe into the stretch for three breathes. Switch sides.
3. Heart Openers
Embrace the vulnerability of these heart opening poses. Focus on opening your chest and heart to graciously receive whatever opportunities and challenges are coming your way.
Begin face down on the floor with arms extended to a T, legs hip distance apart and tops of feet resting on the ground. On an inhalation, use your back muscles to lift your chest and arms off of the floor keeping the neck relaxed and drawing shoulder blades and elbows back; engage your glutes and thighs to hover your legs off of the floor. Then bend your knees and draw your arms back to capture your feet in your hands. Roll to the soft part of your belly. Breathe into the pose and lift up high through your hands and feet.
Begin in Downward facing dog with your body in a pike position, hands shoulder distance apart, feet hip distance apart, hips lifted high. Bring your weight into your right hand and shift onto the outer edge of your right foot. Lift your left leg high and begin to rotate your left hip open towards the sky. Bend your left knee and allow your left foot to find the ground. Open your chest to the sky and extend your left arm overhead. Hold the pose for three breathes.
Begin by kneeling upright with your knees hip width apart. Rotate your thighs inward and press your shins and the tops of your feet into the floor. Rest your hands on the back of your pelvis, with your fingers pointing to the floor. Lean back, with your chin slightly tucked toward your chest. Beginners can stay here, but if you would like to take the pose deeper reach back and hold onto your heels. Hold the pose for three breathes.
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Daily renewal is all about clearing out the old and starting fresh — new opportunities, new adventures, new habits. Habitually performing a morning yoga sequence can have an awesome impact on your attitude and mentality for your day and your life.