College is filled with learning and growing experiences that are supposed to push us outside of our comfort zones. This is an amazing journey that teaches us so much, however, it can also lead to a great deal of stress. This stress can manifest in our lives in many different ways, including physical tension and overwhelming thoughts. An amazing way that I have found to help deal with my own day-to-day stress is taking a moment of stillness, silence, and deep breathing. We don’t take enough time to just be still and you do not realize how important it is until you do it!
Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor or a yoga specialist. If you’re unsure about the pose description, look up more information online. Use these poses as a guide but do what feels right for YOUR body.
Remember: In order to carry out these poses properly, you must breathe often and deeply. An instructor once told me to “breathe into the areas of your body that you feel tension.”
1. Child’s Pose
- Take your knees wide with toes touching and rest back with your arms extended in front. Rest your forehead on your mat or floor.
- Taking several deep breaths here, you should feel a stretch in your hips and throughout the upper body.
2. Puppy Pose
- Same as Child’s pose, with hips lifted off the ground.
- Less emphasis on hips, more on shoulders and upper back.
- Remember to take several deep breaths in each pose.
3. Downward Facing Dog
- Come to your hands and knees, tuck toes under to grip the floor and then lift hips to the sky.
- Head should ALWAYS be in line with your spine.
- If your hamstrings are screaming — peddle your legs to stretch each leg separately.
- Take several deep breaths here. Push your tummy out and in as you breathe.
- Many people are under the impression that this is an easy pose… IT’S NOT! It hurts and breathing through it is very helpful.
4. Low Lunge
- You can come into this pose from a downward dog OR from standing. Step left/right foot back and place that knee on the mat (or floor, maybe put a blanket down to support knees). Your opposite leg should be bent at this point. Place your hands on your bent knee and flex forward and backward to stretch. Flex your booty to support the lower back!
- You should feel a stretch through your hip flexors.
- Stretch both legs equally (it may not feel the same on both sides, that is OK).
5. Forward Fold
- Inhale as you stand straight up and exhale as you bend over (from your hips). You can bend the knees as much as you need to get the belly to the thighs.
- You can rest your hands on the floor, grab opposite elbows and hang, or let the arms drop and swing them freely.
- Several deep breaths here!
6. Butterfly Stretch
- We love hip stretches! Woo! But seriously, women hold a ton of stress in their hips so it is worth it.
- Try your best to keep a flat back as you bend over your hips.
- Close your eyes and just breathe here.
7. Pigeon Stretch
- Begin on your hands and knees, extend your left/right leg and then bend and bring it into the upper body as much as you can. If comfortable, lower to your forearms or rest forehead on the ground.
- Another hip flexor stretch. Very important!
- Take several deep breaths on each side.
8. Bridge Pose
- Begin laying on back, plant feet solidly on the ground, tuck shoulders underneath the body if that helps and lift hips off the ground. Slowly lower to ground and repeat as much as feels good.
- Inhale as you lift and exhale as you lower back down.
9. Waterfall Pose
- This is a very relaxing pose, especially after working out or stretching.
- Plant your palms on the ground and lift legs straight out above you. Make sure your feet are flexed.
- If extending your legs straight out is uncomfortable, place a block (or book, or another solid rectangle object) underneath the hips to help lift.
- Close the eyes and take several more deep breaths here.
10. Happy Baby Pose
- Lay on your back, bring knees into the chest and grab both toes with both hands. Feel free to roll and rock around on your back for a slight massage.
- This is a fun one.
- Don’t forget to breathe through this!
I hope that any and all of these poses lend you a moment to yourself. On the hard days and even the easy ones, we need time to bring stillness to the body and stretch muscles that we use every single day. It can take 10 minutes on the floor of your room while you’re studying every now and then or 30 minutes every morning. Small changes that help our bodies bring great rewards!
Sending love and self-loving energy your way,