Though her reputation as a yoga practitioner got its start on Instagram (360,000 followers and counting!), Jessamyn Stanley wants you to know that yoga is more than “handstands on the beach.”
“A lot of people focus on the athletic aspect or fitness benefits, but for me, yoga provides a blueprint for life,” says Stanley, author of Every Body Yoga: Let Go of Fear, Get on the Mat, Love Your Body. “It’s a practice that helps you as you go through your day—and life.”
For example, she says, when you can’t find your balance to do tree pose, yoga trains you to lead with your breath. “This works for on and off the mat, whether you’re struggling to do something big or small,” Stanley says. “Focusing on your breathing is calming and helps you be in the moment so you can shut out the distractions.”
Focused breathing also gives you energy while helping you let go of stress. To start the day feeling good and relaxed, Stanley recommends doing these three poses right out of bed (before your morning cup of coffee, which you may end up not needing anymore). Cycle through them, one right after the other, for 10 minutes, breathing five to 10 breaths into each pose.
Start on all fours on the floor, with shoulders above wrists and hips above knees (tabletop position). Slowly lower your hips to your heels and forehead to the floor. Breathe deeply as you press your belly against your thighs. Bring your hands toward your body and press up to a seated position.
CAT POSE, ALTERNATING WITH COW POSE
Start in tabletop position. Bring your belly button toward your spine (rounding your back), letting your chin rest on your chest; hold, breathing slowly. Release; then open your chest and let your belly sink toward the floor. Hold, breathing slowly; release.
Sit on the floor with legs crossed in front of you. Lengthen your spine so you are sitting tall. Place your right hand on the floor behind you and your left hand on your right knee. Twist to the right; hold, looking over your right shoulder and breathing slowly. Release; repeat on left side (recross your legs so the shin that was on top is now the shin on the bottom).