August is a hectic time for everyone — kids are getting ready to go back to school and everyone has to return to the daily grind of work after a lax few months of vacations and summer Fridays.
All of this change can quickly take a toll on your mental health. When transitioning back into the routine of fall, it’s important to have a plan in place to make sure you don’t let the stress pile up and movement and self-care fall to the wayside. As a certified yoga instructor, I always recommend that my clients try incorporating yoga into their routine to combat this sense of overwhelm. According to one poll, 87 percent of people who participated in a yoga felt happier when they were leaving the class than when they entered. So there's a good chance it will give you the boost you need as you're juggling back-to-school shopping and work commitments.
Yoga can be intimidating for those who have never tried it, but it doesn’t have to be! Besides being fantastic for your mental health, the practice is a great tool for building strength, toning your body and improving your overall flexibility. Plus, it only requires a mat and can be practiced anywhere from your living room to a hotel room, making it one of the more budget-friendly self-care practices.
I recommend practicing yoga at least 3 times a week for at least 20 minutes. If you’re looking to de-stress and fit more self-care into your everyday routine, these yoga sequences and poses are a great place to start. What's great about them is that you can string together however many you have time for — whether that's just one right when you get out of bed, or 10-15 for a serious zen session. Even if your routine gets cut short, you’ll still be getting your blood flowing, connecting to your breath, and creating a short pause in the day to help you regroup.
The first two sequences are called sun salutations and are perfect to help you get your body warmed up and ready for other activities — whether it’s before a yoga class or jog, or first thing in the morning before you get moving for the day. You will flow through every move in each sequence continuously (versus performing one and then pausing in between). Then on certain days, you will perform additional poses that will help with balance and relaxation.
Download your printable calendar here. Hang the calendar on your fridge, or keep it in your purse or car, for easy reference. Of course, this calendar is just a suggestion. Feel free to adjust based on the time you have and how your body is feeling on any given day!
Day 1: Sun Salutation A
Day 2: Sun Salutation A + B
Day 3: REST
Day 4: Sun Salutation A + Relaxation
Day 5: Sun Salutation A + Balance
Day 6: REST
Day 7: REST
Day 8: Sun Salutation B
Day 9: Sun Salutation A
Day 10: REST
Day 11: Sun Salutation B + Relaxation
Day 12: REST
Day 13: Sun Salutation A + Balance + Relaxation
Day 14: REST
Day 15: Sun Salutation A + B
Day 16: REST
Day 17: Sun Salutation A + B + Relaxation
Day 18: Sun Salutation A
Day 19: REST
Day 20: Sun Salutation B
Day 21: REST
Day 22: Sun Salutation A + Balance + Relaxation
Day 23: Sun Salutation B
Day 24: REST
Day 25: Sun Salutation B + Balance + Relaxation
Day 26: REST
Day 27: Sun Salutation A + B
Day 28: REST
Day 29: Sun Salutation A + B + Balance + Relaxation
Day 30: REST
Day 31: Sun Salutation A + B + Balance + Relaxation
Exhale and step back into a plank position. Inhale here, and then hug the elbows in towards your chest and lower yourself down towards the ground. If you’re a yogi expert you can combine this into one move, jumping backwards with your elbows bent so your elbows are beside your ribs as you lower yourself onto the floor.
While you inhale, press into your hands pulling, squeeze your shoulder blades backwards, and focus on lifting your chest to the sky. Keep your thighs and knees on the ground for a modification. Otherwise, press the tops of your feet into the ground as you lift your thighs and knees off of the ground to move into a full upward facing dog.
While you inhale, if you’re a beginner walk your feet towards your hands until your are in a forward fold. If you’re more experienced with yoga, jump into this position. Then press your fingers into your shins and lift your head up into a tabletop position.
Inhale and bring the right foot forward while keeping the left heel turned inward. Your arms should be lifted to the sky and your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle while your left leg is straight back behind you.
Inhale and bring the left foot forward while keeping the right heel turned inward. Your arms should be lifted and your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle while your right leg is straight back behind you.
While lunging forward keep your legs at a 90-degree angle. To engage all parts of your body, make sure to keep your hands on your hips. Hold this pose for 5 seconds before straightening the leg for a release. Repeat this 10 times per left.
From the forward lunge, press down through your right foot and slowly tilt your torso forward as you lift the left leg straight back. Ultimately you’re working towards having your torso straight with your arms extended forward and your left leg extended back. Hold for 3 slow breaths, then release. Repeat on the right side.
This position is a favorite for my clients because they can do it anywhere with a wall (or without like I am doing here)! Lying on the ground, put your legs up the wall and try to create a 90-degree angle. This position is fantastic if you have swollen ankles or anxiety. Hold for 2-3 minutes for maximum effects.
This pose is so simple that in my experience, many people don’t even consider it to be a pose! You’re literally trying to do nothing by lying down at the end of your practice. This position can help you lower blood pressure, calm your mind and relax your body.