It's that time of year again! When it's chilly outside and lots of layers are called for, it can be tricky to figure out how to flaunt the body parts we love most. It's not that we let it all hang out in the summertime—I'm talking about highlighting the body parts we are most proud of!
For instance, my muscular legs and toned shoulder blades are some of my very favorite assets, because they make me feel confident and strong. They radiate my passion for fitness and wellness from the inside out. But without sending breath and life into my body each day, it's easy for my shoulders to droop and to forget about the strength of my legs after sitting at a desk all day in leggings or sweatpants!
So! Let's talk about some tips and tricks to achieve that awesome body confidence we all deserve to have at any time of year. It's far more attainable than you may think...even for you New Yorkers that are bundled up from head to toe!
Simply sending breath into our rib cage and back body can breathe (literally) so much more life into our bods. Focus on taking long, deep, cleansing inhales through the nose and out through the nose (ujjayi breath is what we call it in yoga) and send that that breath between the spaces in your rib cage, into the muscles of your back body, and feel that extension that begins to open through the chest.
Breathwork is such a beautiful way to open up. That particular exercise gives us length in the spine and allows us to hold ourselves with that radiant wellness glow.
Yoga flow for length
Another thing I like to do when I am feeling off center and looking to move breath back into my body is to flow through a gentle Sun Salutation A. This is simple and can be done without a mat or any props if you don't have any handy. The sequence is meant to connect breath with movement so essentially reconnects that mind-body-soul connection. Keep in mind, this flow connects one breath to each movement.
To flow through Sun A, come to standing position with your arms at your side. On an inhale, sweep your hands over your head with palms facing each other. Exhale, hands come to heart center. Inhale, reach hands up to the sky. Exhale, forward fold (uttanasana). Inhale halfway lift, palms to shins with long spine. Exhale, plant hands to the earth and come either to a half push-up (chaturanga) or all the way to your stomach. Inhale upward dog with arms straight and hips, thighs, and knees off the earth. Exhale, pull your hips back, downward-facing dog.
Another great exercise for cultivating length in the upper body is to lie on your back, bring the soles of your feet together, cultivate your ujjayi breath, and begin to melt into the earth. You are in supta buddha konasana—reclined bound angle pose. This pose is truly the queen of all restorative postures, especially if you have a block, blankets, or a bolster handy to prop up your knees and rest your upper back and head onto.
Arms can rest comfortably at your sides with palms up to the ceiling, or you can place one hand on your belly and one hand on your heart. Breathe into your heart space, feeling the rise and fall of your chest with your cleansing inhales and exhales. When you are ready, come out of the pose as slowly as you came into it—almost like moving through molasses. You'll be amazed at the length and the center of breath that you feel when you go back to your day after this one!
There we have it, lovelies! Some quick, easy breathwork and postures to move through to gain immediate body confidence and mental clarity. Especially during the holidays, these are great little moments to incorporate into our day-to-day routine.