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Throughout my childhood, in public, my mom did full-on exercises complete with guttural breathing. Her worst offenses were during times of stagnancy. While standing in line at very important stores in our local mall, she would shamelessly hand me her purse as she began a flagrant stretching routine. With each deep exhale and leg thrust she would further jeopardize my standing as a decently respectable member of my middle school.
Who knew when she would strike next? Sitting in the movie theater? Walking through our town’s only grocery store? No place was safe. In these moments of utter embarrassment, I swore I would never engage in these acts of social blasphemy. Oh how time has changed me. Now I get what she was doing and find her unabashed moves towards wellness inspirational.
It is with great reluctance that I prepare to betray my pre-teen self: here are some sneaky ways you can use physical yoga principals to invigorate your body while doing 6 humdrum activities (publicly or privately).
1. Sitting – Rest evenly on your sitting bones. Lengthen through your spine. Line-up your head over your tailbone (most people tend to lean forward). Try not to rely on the back of the chair to keep your torso upright; use your back and abdominal muscles instead. Place feet squarely on the floor and align your knees directly over your ankles.
-Take a spinal twist to enliven and realign the spine. Inhale to bring length in the torso. As you exhale, twist to the right at the waist. Your left hand can grab your outer right hip or the back of the chair for leverage. Switch sides.
-Try a half ankle-to-knee pose as a tonic for your hips. Cross your right ankle over your left thigh above your knee and flex your right foot. Stay here or fold forward for deeper hip opening. Do both sides. Check it out right here -->
-Wake up your legs by straightening and bending them at your knees, flexing and pointing through your feet, and circling the ankles.
2. Standing – Stand in tadasana (mountain pose) with your arms by your side and palms facing forward. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor and lift through the crown of your head. Ground evenly through both feet and engage your thighs without locking the knees and avoid sinking weight into your joints.
- Inhale as you raise your ribcage away from your hips. Lift your heart while spreading your collarbones wide for an energizing mini backbend.
- Lift and lower your heels and repeat. Maybe even stay up for a balance on the balls of your feet! Oh the thrill!
- Feeling daring? Go for the forward bend to gently open your hamstrings.
- Place one hand on your heart and one on your belly as you feel breath expanding evenly into both hands on deliberately slow inhales. Feel your hands slowly sink as you mindfully exhale.
3. Walking – Maintain the tadasana principles (see #2) and ground through all sides of your feet with each step you take. Look at the soles of your shoes. If they’re more worn on the outside edge, it generally means you favor the outer rims of your feet. So, try bringing more weight to the inside edge of your foot each time you take a step and vice versa. Check out this post for more info on feet alignment.
- Match your breath to your pace. Start with four steps to inhale, four to retain the breath, and four to exhale and move up from there. This breathing exercise (Sama Vritti) brings balance and evenness.
- Energize and lengthen your arms while keeping your shoulder blades engaged along the back. You could even take some shoulder circles.Woah!
- Try leading with your whole pelvic girdle. Imagine a strong hand is pressing on your sacrum/lower back as you move forward through space. I know this sounds crazy but just try it!
4. Talking on the phone – try not to cock your neck in one direction as you hold the phone between your shoulder and ear. Lengthen through both sides and back of your neck. Switch hands every once in a while for evenness. Don’t do this -->
5. Using the computer – Don’t collapse in your shoulder girdle. Instead, keep your collarbones open wide. Relax your eyebrows, jaw, and eye sockets. Dip your chin a little to avoid scrunching the vertebrae in the back of the neck. Circle your wrists every once in a while. If seated, see # 1 above.
6. Eating – Slow down. Try to remind yourself to breathe between bites. Here’s research on how slow eating is good for you. (Yoga is all about slowing down and becoming more mindful anyway, right?)
Listen, wellness nerds, this is not to encourage you to dissect every last movement your body makes. Nor are these exercises to be abused in order to sabotage an innocent teen’s fragile coolness! Instead, use these physical reminders to remain present, energized, and open. And thank you, Mom, for the unblushing inspiration to keep my body active.