Center Yourself Before Work
“65% of workers said that workplace stress had caused difficulties and more than 10 percent described these as having major effects on their health. 1.“
As humans, we are more stressed than ever before.
Life is super busy, and it seems to only be getting busier.
Unfortunately with the stress can come additional health and mindset struggles.
One of the most stressful things we face in daily life? Work.
To take on the day strong, it is important to face it as clear-headed and grounded as possible.
Taking the time to center yourself in your yoga or meditation practice, or even in work situations can help restore balance back to your body and mind when stress, anxiety, frustration, anger, or other negative emotions encroach on your life.
Use these yoga poses to center you in a short session before work:
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Pose Type: Standing Pose
Every yogi knows that while it looks like you’re just standing in place, Mountain Pose is actually a very active pose involving a great deal of muscle awareness and attention. Tadasana, when correctly executed, works every muscle in the body and when practiced regularly, it can help reduce back pain while strengthening the thighs, knees, ankles, abdomen, and buttocks.
Mountain pose is contained within many sequences, but it is also used at the beginning and end of a yoga practice to ground. Many yogis include this asana as a moment of rest during their practice because it improves focus and concentration. Focus on the stilling effect achieved in Tadasana and you may discover that you begin the next sequence with a greater sense of relaxation and attention.
This pose is an active standing pose done with your feet firmly grounded on the mat:
- Start by placing your feet hip-width apart with your heels turned slightly outward to let your weight rest on your toes.
- Your arms can hang down by your sides with palms facing forward or rest in prayer position.
- Move your pelvis away from your lower back by drawing your ribs in.
- Relax the shoulders and steady your breathing.
- Pull downward through your heels and lift the top of your thighs up and back to engage the quadriceps (the front thigh muscles).
- Reach the crown of your head toward the sky to make yourself long.
- You can gaze through the third eye or, for more challenge, close your eyes.
One of the best tips for getting this pose right is to work the pose from the ground up. Noticing and aligning the feet, then the ankles, the shins, and so forth. To find your center of balance, lean slightly forward and back several times until you find the center.
BENEFITS OF MOUNTAIN POSE
The benefits of practicing Mountain Pose include:
- Bringing calm focus to the yogi mind
- Relieves stress
- Improves concentration
You can practice Mountain Pose many times during a normal day: while standing in line, in an elevator, or brushing your teeth. Once you’ve got the alignment down, you may find yourself standing and sitting straighter and taller throughout the day with less back pain and clear, calm mind.
Warrior I (Virabhradrasana I)
Pose Type: Standing Pose
The meaning of Warrior I, or Virabhadrasana, is fierce warrior. The pose is an incarnation of Shiva, the Hindu god said to have a thousand heads, a thousand eyes, and a thousand feet. Shiva wields a thousand clubs and wears a tiger’s skin, so this is not a yoga pose for the timid and if you happen to be feeling timid today, this pose can make a big difference in your day.
Warrior I is often a part of the Sun Salutation series of poses and other sequences. It is one of the most graceful and powerful yoga postures, adding beauty and grace to the yoga practice while building heat and strength for the practitioner.
You can come into this pose from several positions, such as rising up from Downward Dog and stepping back from Mountain pose. We’ll start from standing Mountain pose:
- Standing in Tadasana at the top of your mat, lightly step one foot back behind you about 3-4 feet. The forward leg will bend at a 90-degree angle (or as close as possible) and the pelvis will settle toward the floor.
- Turn the back foot 45-60 degrees outward and position the front foot right in alignment with the instep of the back foot.
- Exhale and rotate your torso to the front while raising your arms over your head toward the sky, turning the palms to face each other. Keep the hands and arms active and engaged in this pose.
- Square your pelvis as much as possible with the front edge of your mat.
- Lengthen the back, reaching for the sky strongly through the arms and lifting the rib cage away from the pelvis.
Releasing from the pose is also done several ways, depending on the sequence. You may straighten the forward knee while bring the back foot forward to arrive back in Mountain pose. You may lower the hands and torso down to the mat and lift the front foot back into plank pose.
BENEFITS OF WARRIOR I POSE (VIRABHADRASANA)
The benefits of this practicing Warrior I in your yoga practice include:
- Strengthening and toning the arms, back and legs
- Improving the body’s ability to balance and increasing stamina
- Releasing the stress held in shoulders
- Opens the front chest and torso
Warrior I is ideal for those with sedentary, or desk-bound, jobs where they are seated for long periods of time. It helps yogis experiencing cases of frozen shoulders and brings courage, grace and peace to the yogi who practices it.
EXTENDED TRIANGLE POSE (UTTHITA TRIKONASANA)
Pronunciation: oo-TEE-tah trik-cone-AHS-anna
Pose Type: Standing
Extended Triangle Pose, or Utthita Trikonasana, is a standing yoga pose that is a building block for the balance and grace required in all areas of life. It creates symmetry throughout your entire body. Triangle pose is an excellent pose for strengthening the lower body while lengthening stiff muscles. As a result, it’s the go-to pose for relieving anxiety or stress.
Ideal for people at desk jobs, Extended Triangle Pose works to stretch all major muscle groups that are affected by sedentary work. It teaches your body better balance and relaxes the least used muscles of the lower body. The pose is usually performed in two parts – one facing one direction and then the other. The pose may be part of a sequence, or asana flow, or done simply as a break. Practicing this pose on a regular basis will bring poise, strength, and equanimity to your daily routine.
You can begin this pose from a number of positions, but we’ll describe it from Warrior II:
- Starting from Warrior II, straighten the front leg and keep the arms raised and parallel with the floor.
- Reach the front arm forward, hinging from the waist and engaging the thigh muscles to evenly balance your weight on both legs.
- Drop the front hand down onto your shin, ankle, or the floor (depending on your personal flexibility) and raise other arm high to the sky.
- Stack the shoulders over each other in alignment, keeping both rooted in the shoulder sockets.
- Turn your gaze upward and follow along your upper arm to the fingertips. Keep your face relaxed and your breath stead as you extend through the fingertips in both directions.
- Draw the forward thigh upwards to deepen the crease in that hip, keeping a microbend in the forward knee.
To come out of the pose, inhale and rotate the upper arm back to parallel with the floor as the body rises out of the pose. Pivot your heels to reverse the orientation to complete the other side. If you find yourself collapsing into the pose, put a block under the front hand for support.
BENEFITS OF EXTENDED TRIANGLE POSE, OR UTTHITA TRIKONASANA POSE
The benefits of this pose include:
- Creates expansion in the shoulders and chest
- Increases the mobility of the hip joints and neck
- Stretches and strengthening the spine and back
- Strengthens and tones the thigh muscles
- Stretches calf muscles, hamstrings, and hips
- Can help relieve back pain
Utthita Trikonasana improves your sense of position in space between the feet and ankles.
Easy Pose (Sukhasana) with Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana Pranayama)
Pose Type: Seated
Easy Pose may look easy, but for many people it simply isn’t. The Sukhasana pose shows us how accustomed we’ve become to sitting in chairs and sinking back into them. Our abdominal and back muscles become weak and we become prone to tight hips and lower-back pain. Approaching Easy Pose with proper support is essential for many who may need a little extra elevation to the pelvis with a folded blanket in order for the hips to open and release.
To achieve full length of the spine in Sukhasana, you must first master the balance at the core of the posture. Notice the position of your pelvis. Does it sink backward or tilt forward? Position the pelvis so that the sacrum moves in and the abdomen lifts up and inward. Once the steadiness of the pose is enabled, you can focus your attention on the upper body. Although this pose is called ‘easy’, it is intended to bring out the happy joy in the heart through real effort.
This pose is often practiced at the beginning or end of a yoga flow sequence and it is an excellent way to ground the body while tapping into the joyful expression waiting in the heart:
- Start from a seated position with the legs crossed.
- Arrange the padding under your sitz bones so that your hips come above the knees.
- Bring one heel toward the groin and the other may rest on your lap.
- Root the sitz bones down into the earth allowing your spine to rise out of the pelvic area.
- Position the shoulders over the hips and slide the shoulder blades down your back to open the chest.
- Place your hands on your lap or on your knees with the palms facing up in an open and receiving position. Prayer position is also fine.
- Keep the crown of the head rising toward the ceiling. Keep the back long and not rounded.
Releasing from the pose is done by allowing the back to round as the legs are uncrossed. If you sit in this position for a long time, remember to switch the legs.
BENEFITS OF EASY POSE
The benefits of this pose include:
- Calms the mind and relieves stress
- Builds strength in the back muscles
- Opens the hips
Sukhasana looks simple but when practiced with clear intention is has the power to draw the yogi deep inside, leading them toward a meditative state and revealing the immense joy in the heart.
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Pose Type: Standing, Balance Pose
If you have ever slipped in the mud or tripped over a rock, you know the value of a good sense of balance. Tree pose, or Vrksasana, is a standing balance pose that strengthens the legs, calms, the mind, and improves stability and balance. Practicing balancing poses like Tree Pose helps you gain physical and mental steadiness and poise. The calming and meditative benefits of standing in tree pose teaches that while your body may sway – like a tree in the wind – it can be steadied with the mind and muscles, so you stay calm no matter what the outside circumstances may be.
If you cannot bring the raised foot high into the other thigh, place it lower on the leg but avoid placing it directly on the knee as this causes strain. Take your time with the pose. As with any balancing pose, it’s easier to come into it slowly and with awarenessss. If you enter it too quickly you are more likely to lose your balance which makes it difficult to regain once its lost.
This yoga pose is typically accessed from Mountain Pose, or Tadasana:
- Starting in a standing position, shift the weight of your body slightly into one foot, while lifting the other firmly slightly off the floor.
- Lift the opposite foot and bend the knee, placing the sole of the foot against the grounded inner thigh, tucking it into the groin (if you can) and pointing the toes down the leg. If necessary, reach down with your hand and clasp the ankle to pull it upward.
- The center of your pelvis should remain directly over the grounded foot in a neutral position.
- Rest your hands on your waist for a moment to ensure the pelvis is stable, then lengthen your tailbone toward the floor pressing the raised leg gently against the inner thigh and the thigh against the foot to create resistance.
- Once established, you can raise your arms overhead and gaze softly before you at a fixed point or up toward the sky depending on your balance. A partner can help with the reaching balance.
Releasing from the pose is done by stepping back into Tadasana on the exhale. Repeat the same pose on the other side. As you practice this pose, you feel rooted and balanced like a tree that has stood the test of time through all forms of weather.
BENEFITS OF TREE POSE, VRKSASANA
The benefits of this pose include:
- Strengthening the thighs, calves, ankles and spine
- Stretching the inner groin and thighs
- Opening the chest and shoulders
- Strong sense of balance
Tree pose is a gentle reminder that you can bring calm focus and clear headedness to every situation, not just when you are in a standing meditation.
Do you like to center yourself before you start your day? Want a week of relaxation to ground yourself before the busiest time of year? We’d love to have you at Anamaya.