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The biggest complaint I hear from my yoga students is tight hips. Hours of driving, sitting behind a desk or lounging on the couch makes for shortened, overworked hip muscles. These muscles in turn pull on your pelvis and lower back causing aches, pains and stiffness. Fortunately, you can reverse the effects of tight hips with focused stretches. Although you can do this posture alone, when done with a partner or against  wall, Seated Pigeon pose is even more effective in loosening your hips and bringing relief to overly tight pelvic muscles:

  1. Sit on the floor, lean against your partner, and stretch your legs out in front of you.
  2. Cross one ankle above the opposite knee to make a Figure Four shape.
  3. If you can stretch further, pull the bottom leg into a bent position.
  4. Take turns gently pressing your back against your partner for a deeper stretch.
  5. Switch legs and repeat.

You will experience immediate relief in your hips after performing this pose. Get your children involved to prevent hip pain later and help them move freely.

Who doesn’t love being snowed in when you’re snuggled up on your sofa, cozy under a warm blanket with your favorite warm beverage? Eventually, someone has to go out and move that pretty but heavy white stuff. If you’re on shoveling duty next snow storm, save your back and body from strain by taking frequent breaks to stretch. Try these three moves for relief:

  • Standing Cat/Cow: Flow with your breath between arching and rounding your back to limber up all the muscles running alongside your spine.
  • Standing Forward Bend: Deeply stretch your hamstrings, back and shoulders with this soothing move.
  • Standing Twist: Unwind the muscles along your arms, shoulders, chest, waist and back while improving spinal mobility.

Take care of your body by taking just one minute to stretch during this strenuous activity. Let this be the winter you sustain no injuries while shoveling so you are free to enjoy the rest of your time.

Even though we may be happy about shopping for loved ones, it can still take a toll on your body. Standing in long lines, carrying heavy bags and navigating through crowds can result in tight shoulders, aching back and leg cramps. Grab a bench at the mall, and take one minute to unwind with these three stretches:

  • Shoulders: roll shoulders forward and up on an inhale, back and down on the exhale, then reverse.
  • Back: sit tall and bring one hand to the outside of the opposite knee. Inhale and lengthen the spine, exhale and twist. Repeat on the other side.
  • Hamstrings and Calves: Sit on the edge of the bench. Straighten one leg and flex the foot. On an exhale, come forward with a flat back. Tuck the chin as you inhale and roll back up. Repeat on the other leg.

Give these a try, and you might actually feel better after a shopping trip! (Sorry for the shaky video; Jenny got a little distracted while we were filming at the mall.)

Thanksgiving is a much-beloved holiday in our home. My guy likes to cook massive amounts for food for just the three of us, and his stuffing is legendary. This year, he is on standby, so the cooking falls to me. I’m up for the challenge, especially since I’m armed with a few good stretches to relieve back tension from standing at the stove. This standing forward bend will benefit you on many levels:

  • elongates spinal muscles
  • decompresses neck
  • stretches hamstrings
  • improves circulation
  • energizes

Take a minute for this stretch, and your body will also be thankful this holiday.

In our fast-paced lives, it can be hard to settle easily into sleep. Electronics stimulate the nervous system and keep our minds racing. Busy after-school schedules can prevent deep relaxation as we prepare for bed. Yoga can combat these challenges and prepare the body for restful sleep so needed for healthy children and adults in several ways:

  • Deep breathing: the yogic technique of focusing on breath helps the nervous system to relax.
  • Stretches: Knee/Chest Pose and Reclining One-Leg Twist stretch and unwind back, hip and abdominal muscles that work all day to maintain posture.
  • Restorative Poses: Reclining Cobbler’s Pose and Constructive Rest Pose relax and calm the entire body.

It only takes a few minutes to help your children unwind and get ready for deep, restful sleep, and it may start them on a life-long journey of wellness and good health.

Stretching is a big deal at our house. One of us is often rolling around on the floor or propping a leg on the deck railing. Jenny will yell to me from across the house: “Mom, look, I’m doing a yoga pose!” But if we get settled on the couch before any of this happens, we’re pretty much there for the duration of the evening. That’s when these poses come in handy. You don’t have to be a devoted yogi or super bendy to do these couch yoga poses. Just stretch a little bit every day, and you will be amazed at the results:

  • Rock the Baby: open hips and stretches inner thighs
  • Heron  Pose: stretches hamstring and low back
  • Cobblers Pose: stretches inner thigh and back

So, next time you reach for your remote, throw in a stretch! Just remember–don’t push, don’t strain, listen to your body and breathe.

Most of us want to be more flexible but don’t always have enough time to really stretch. So do it before you get out of bed in the morning!  It takes just two minutes in the morning or at night (or, even better, both). Even these short bursts of breathing and stretching will make you more bendy and relaxed, and nearly everyone can do the stretches in this video. When you stretch regularly, you can expect to see these results:

  • reduced aches and pains
  • improved range of motion
  • decreased stress levels
  • lessened risk of injury
  • increased blood supply to muscles
  • enhanced mood

Stash a scarf next to your bed, and try these simple stretches with me tomorrow morning. Your body will thank you!

In a society where so much is striving for our attention-music, television, video games, text messages–it’s challenging for any of us to stay focused, especially children who may have difficulty paying attention and completing tasks. Yoga helps us focus our attention in many ways:

  • Mindfulness: Paying attention to each movement as we do it keeps us focused in the present moment. Time seems to slow down, and our bodies and breathing patterns soften and relax.
  • Focus: In balancing poses, our minds center on maintaining balance and flow of breath. If the mind wanders, we will quickly fall out of the pose.
  • Attention to Breath: Each pose requires slow, steady breath. Our bodies move slightly in response to the breath, so rather than holding the pose like statues, we stay centered by feeling and responding to the inhalation and exhalation throughout the body.

Take a few minutes out of your day for these three yoga poses that will relieve stress, declutter your mind, help you focus and foster parent/child bonding.

Whether you’ve been sitting as a desk or picking up toys, laundry and children off the floor all day, your back is probably screaming by 5pm. This one move is sure to soothe your tight, overworked back muscles. As a bonus, you’ll strengthen your abs, which helps you avoid serious back problems in the future. Here are some of the many benefits of cat/cow yoga flow:

  • Improves mobility in a stiff spine
  • Strengthens core
  • Relieves lower back pain
  • Lessens hip pain
  • Strengthens the abdominals
  • Encourages baby to move into ideal birth position (for pregnant woman)
  • Strengthens shoulders and arms

Try adding cat/cow sounds to encourage your little ones to join you!

Finding time to stretch can be hard in our busy lives.Here’s a good way to get yourself and your child a little more flexible, and it only takes a minute.

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