Ring in International Yoga Day with a few poses for your practice.
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Are we safe in saying 2020 has brought up a ton of emotions the likes of which we did not plan for? The good, the bad, the “unprecedented”–our hearts and minds have been taken on a wild rollercoaster ride, and for many of us, our mental health is suffering.
With our minds running in thousands of directions, it’s hard to notice our own needs. Yes, our attention to the goings-on of 2020 is vital, but caring for ourselves is as important as ever.
• What are you doing to process the emotions you are experiencing?
• What about the emotions of others (or the world) that you so generously take on?
If you’re like me, your external presentation is calm and cool, but on the inside–it’s a feelings-festival.
We tend to think of emotions and anxiety as things that only happen in our brains, when, really, our entire physical bodies are being affected by what goes on up there. A constriction of the chest? Worry. Neck pain after a day at work? Stress.
If you’re looking to release those emotional blocks, try practicing yoga and meditation. Yes, we hear it all the time, but it’s because it works. Sitting in uncomfortable yoga postures and finding stillness within them offers the entire body a chance to release emotional blockages, stagnant energy, and lingering tension. It’s a beautiful act of self-care, and we deserve that care.
Settle in. Buckle up. And keep your eyes on me. It’s time to hop on the emotional release ride and begin your daily healing process.
Disclaimer: set the tone. Dim the lights, light a candle, and play relaxing music. Cultivate a space of calm and support and take care of yourself as you move through the poses. Once you’re done, consider taking a class from one of the many studios featured on the Mindbody app.
In the yoga world, the hips are often referred to as the “junk drawer” of emotions. They house all the odds and ends of your past emotional states, especially those that have been traumatic in nature. While there is no scientific explanation for this, we do know the hip flexors are paramount in contracting the knees up towards the torso, an action used in our sympathetic nervous system’s “flight, fight, or freeze” responses. This means we also know that hip openers are great for working toward healing emotional trauma.
Whether you are contracting the hip flexors to run (fight or flight) or to curl up in a fetal pose (freeze), this area is used in high-stress situations and may have lingering effects.
To get into the pose: From downward-facing dog (adho mukha svanasana), pull one leg forward and bend it so its shin is parallel with the top of your mat. Set it down and heel-toe your back knee behind you. Flex hard into the foot of your bent leg. Keep your hands planted in front of you or come onto your forearms. Practice intentional breathing. Switch and repeat.
Accessible modifications: Place one block underneath your bent hip, and another block underneath your hands or forehead. If the traditional expression of the pose is too intense for your hips, come onto your back. Plant your feet into the mat. Hook one ankle over the opposite thigh. Take a strap behind that thigh (or clasp your hands) and pull the thigh towards your chest—and don’t forget to keep breathing.
Whether it’s due to a personal relationship, worldly issues, or unidentified feelings of depression or sadness, the heart can sometimes feel like an anvil. The physical response is to concave your chest, curling inward to protect the heart from further harm. This keeps us from fully processing those emotions, and the heart-opening camel pose can help.
This pose opens the heart space, known as a “cracking open” of the heart– which helps activate the heart chakra (anahata chakra).
To get into the pose: Sit on your shins and stack the hips over the knees. Place your hands on your low back and press the hips forward. Tilt the head up towards the sky and back behind you. Let your hands come to your heels as you press the hips farther forward. Open the throat and let the head tilt back. Keep breathing.
Accessible modifications: To ease the intensity of the backbend, place your hands on your hips, fingertips facing downward, and keep them off the heels. You may also keep the chin tucked to protect the throat and cervical spine.
Feeling unsure, insecure, or shy? There’s a warrior pose for that. While warrior 2 requires a good deal of strength and stability, it’s mostly known for its balance of effort and ease (stirha and sukha). When we are confident, we have a sense of ease about ourselves. We don’t need reassurance because it’s already within us, and we move through the world with positivity and light. If you need to clear the emotional cobwebs and come out full of power, this is your pose.
To get into the pose: Face the top of your mat. Step one foot back behind you and drop your heel down to a 90-degree angle. Wiggle your feet until you find a front-heel to back-arch alignment (or somewhere close). Bend deeply into your front knee as you lengthen your back leg. Hip points are square to the side of the mat as your arms come out to a “T”. Gaze towards your front fingertips. Keep breathing. Switch and repeat.
Accessible modifications: If you need assistance with your balance, place the back foot next to a wall. If the hips and thighs need extra support, shorten the distance between the feet. You may also bring a chair underneath your front thigh for more support.
Find more strength-based poses like this through classes on the Mindbody app.
Imagine you were a child again, about to jump off a huge rock into the lake. As a kid, you may not fully understand the risks of such an act, so you go for it. You trust the experience, and you jump–arms open wide, chest fully exposed–into the water below. As adults, we may begin to lose that sense of trust in the world, and even in others around us. That’s where humble warrior comes in. The act of bowing down is humbling and reverent, and the intensity of the pose requires our full trust. This is the “jump in the lake, chest first” pose that helps us surrender and let go of hesitation.
To get into the pose: Face the top of your mat. Step one foot back behind you and drop your heel down to a 45-degree angle. Wiggle your feet until you find a heel to heel alignment (or somewhere close). Bend deeply into your front knee as you lengthen your back leg. Hip points are square to the top of your mat as your arms clasp behind your low back. Inhale and lift the chest upward, exhale and bow down inside of your front knee. Bring your clasped hands up above your head. Breathe. Switch and repeat.
Accessible modifications: If you need more physical space for your body and hips, heel-toe your front foot to the edge of your mat. If your shoulders are tight, use a strap behind the low back. A chair underneath your front thigh works here, as well.
Tension and anxiety can present themselves throughout the body, with physical sensations commonly in the upper and low back, the chest, and the belly. Spinal twists are an excellent way to release tension and anxiety that have crept up in those spaces, and they are known to be mentally and physically cleansing. The act of “wringing out” one’s spine may spark an emotional response of the same. Try this pose after a stressful day at work or before bedtime.
To get into the pose: Lie down and parallel the shins with the sky. Drop the knees down to the left. Place your left hand on your top knee and allow the opposite shoulder to soften down towards the mat. Breathe. Switch and repeat.
Accessible modifications: Place a folded blanket under your knees or between your legs.
Taking care of our mental health is more crucial than ever right now. If you're experiencing increased anxiety and uncertainty during this time, you're not alone. Regular practice can provide so many physical and emotional benefits to help you heal and focus on your mind-body connection. Whether you're looking for stress reduction, mental clarity, physical strength, or other benefits, your mat is a good place to start.
Ready to explore more restorative poses to release your emotions?
Tipping. While it can be a taboo topic that no one really wants to talk about publicly, the fact is, it’s a very important one that shouldn’t (and can’t) be avoided. This is all too true, especially now, when it comes to beauty services. Even before, “all of this” happened, there appeared to be some ambiguity about exactly how much to tip, when, what’s a respectable amount, and why. Now that we’ve tried our best at #homebeauty, it’s time to head back to the salons, spas, and other boutique beauty businesses (if you haven’t already). We’re here to guide you through gratuity in the new normal and why tipping a little extra to show your stylists and service providers you care during this tough time is the right thing to do.
To make sure we get you all the right answers, we asked around about it (so you don’t have to). Turns out, our Instagram followers had a lot to say about how to tip your stylists and show them some extra love right now.
Here’s what you think:
79% of you said you’ve been tipping more for beauty services recently. We’re all so grateful for our stylists—with split ends, grown-out roots, out-of-control brows, and terrible home-cut bangs to prove it. And now that many of us can return to our salons and spas, we’re appreciating the ones who help us feel beautiful even more right now.
We got a range of responses to this question. Some said they tip 5% more than they previously did, and many said 25%-35% total! Not only are these stylists actual artists, but they’re providing services we just can’t do ourselves. On top of that, many had to close their doors for several months, many were displaced as their salons shut down for good, and all of them are trying their best to get back to a sense of normalcy and do what they do best—help us look and feel beautiful. So, take this as a guide. Tip what you can but remember how much these wonderful people do for us.
When it comes to trying new services, 69% of you gave it a big fat NO, while 31% remain intrigued. It makes sense that many would stick to their go-tos right now, as salons are just starting to reopen in some areas or may not be open yet at all.
Depending on where you live and your overall health, you might be sticking with the bare minimum for now. But if your city has put in place safe reopening guidelines and measures, and you feel ready to head back out there, you can do so safely at a Mindbody salon. And you may be interested in trying out some new services right now as a way to show your local salons some extra support. If that’s you, browse beauty on the Mindbody app—and filter your categories to find out what’s out there.
Another way you can support your stylists right now? Shopping. It’s the safest way to show them some love without actually going in for a treatment. Many salons offer pre-payment on the Mindbody app and curbside pickup or a plethora of shipping methods, so you can keep contact to a minimum as much as possible. Plus, they have some pretty great stuff. If you need to invest in a good shampoo—especially because you haven’t gotten your hair done in months—so why not buy it from your stylist? According to our poll, it’s a pretty even split. 55% of you haven’t bought any products yet, while the other 45% have been shopping away. If you’re part of that 55, consider checking out your salon’s product offerings (you might see something you like).
Finally, we asked you all open-endedly how else you’re supporting your stylists right now. We got a lot of great answers. There was a lot of overlap, but we thought you might like to see some of the ones that stood out. So, if we didn’t cover it all so far, we’re about to—because you all are awesome and you did it for us. Here are some of the great ideas you had:
• “Paying in advance!”
• “Being more diligent about scheduling appointments versus letting my hair grow out”
• “Referring friends!”
• “Being flexible” (this is a good one—check out the 5 things your stylist wants you to know before you book)
• “Scheduling my next cut before I leave!”
• “Sharing their photos on Instagram and telling friends!”
So, if you’re a stylist reading this, thank you. We all want to continue showing you support during this time and beyond. And if you’re a regular person like me who really needs her highlights done, just schedule the damn appointment already (if you feel comfortable) or buy some purple shampoo from your favorite salon.