Yoga for Election Relief

When the country's fate teeters on one decision, it's natural to feel anxious. Add any personal stressors + maybe the occasional toe stub or traffic jam and you have yourself a recipe for emotional overwhelm. 

To keep you on your path, we've teamed up with the Washington Post. In our Facebook Live event, our DC instructors lead yoga poses and other techniques to keep you calm during the presidential election. Regardless of your level of experience with yoga and/or your political stances,  these tips will help you find your center in this time of stress.  

Introducing... Grip The Mat's 2016 Step-By-Step

Election Relief Plan


#1 Stand Tall 

MOUNTAIN POSE

If you want to be an unwavering force, start with this basic posture.

ALIGN

  • Stand up
  • Big toes to touch or keep your feet separated.
  • Knees track toes
  • Palms faceward

ACTIVATE

  • Spread your toes. Look down and notice if you favor placing your body' weight to the inside or outside of your foot. Sway side to side until you find where you can stand through the center.
  • Press down through your feet to stand up TALL. Feel your quads activate and your inner thighs roll in.
  • Tilt your pubis down and feel your abdominals turn on.
  • Roll your shoulders down and back to lift your chest. Allow external rotation of your shoulders bring yous shoulder blades together. 

#2 Get In The Hips

FIGURE 4

When we tense up emotionally, our bodies tighten and contract. Similar to how shoulders clench and hunch over, hips store trauma, stress and anxiety. If you want to dig out the emotional junk, you'll want t get into the hips.

ALIGN

  • Start in Tadasana with hands at heart center
  • Shift your weight into your left foot.
  • Place right ankle on left knee. 
  • Reach your hands forward so your biceps are in line with your ears. Palms face each other
  • Neck is in line with your spine

ACTIVATE

  • Inhale to contract your abs, pulling your navel towards your spine.
  • Exhale  to shift your weight into your heels.
  • Inhale to reach forward and up with your arms
  • Exhale to reach your hips back and deepen.

#3 Get Grounded

WARRIOR II

In yoga, we learn to balance effort and ease so that we can safely progress. Warrior II is a useful grounding pose that helps us grow gracefully in strength. 

ALIGN

  • Start in a wide stance with both feet on the ground
  • Turn your front toes to point forward with the front knee over the ankle
  • Turn your back toes 45 degrees with the leg extended and hip externally rotated
  • Chest and heart open
  • Reach your arms forward and back
  • Externally rotate shoulders
  • Palms face down to internally rotate the forearms
  • Look towards your front fingers

ACTIVATE

  • Engage your abs
  • Drop the hips
  • Press down firmly and equally through both feet
  • Reach up through the head
  • Drop shoulders away from your ears
  • Actively reach forward and back 

#4 Open Up to Increase Self Esteem

REVERSE WARRIOR

ALIGN

  • From Warrior II (see #3) 

  • Flip front palm up and reach it straight up

  • Place back hand on back thigh, palm facing up
  • Chest and heart lift in direction of lifted arm
  • Legs and hips stay the same as Warrior II
  • Gaze is in direction of your chest and heart
  • *To deepen reach the top hand up and back with the chest following

ACTIVATE

  • Distribute weight equally through both feet
  • Firm your abs
  • Deepen in the legs and reach higher with your heart and top hand

#5 Twist to Eliminate the Unnecessary

LUNGING PRAYER TWIST

Twists help detox the body of physical and emotional blockages. Do this twisting lunge to stimulate your internal organs,  improve digestion, and stretch deeper into your hips.

ALIGN

  • Find a low lunge with the back knee down and your hands at your heart and front knee in line with front ankle
  • Bring opposite elbow to the outside of opposite knee
  • Hips point down as middle and upper back twist toward the sky
  • Gaze follows chest

ACTIVATE

  • Hug your abs in
  • Inhale to press your palms together and engage your arms
  • Exhale to twist deeper

#6 Fold Forward to Shut Off Distraction

STANDING FORWARD FOLD

Just as our body opening facilitates confident self-expression to the outside world(see #2), folding inward gets us in touch with our subtle body.  While out of sight the Achilles tendon, calves,hamstrings, spinal columns and neck should be kept in mind if long-term wellness is your goal.

ALIGN

  • From Tadasana (see #1) step your feet apart slightly
  • Interlace your finger behind your back
  • Fold forward with knees either bent or straight

ACTIVATE

  • Press the heels of your hands together. If interlacing is not accessible, hold a towel or a strap in either hand to help open up the chest.
  • Shift your weight into your toes
  • Relax your shoulders, neck and jaw
  • Exhale to fold deeper

#7 High-Five Your Inner Kid

YOGI SQUAT

We saved this essential movement for the end. Is squatting is painstakingly difficult foryou now? It wasn't always! As a child, your body moved safely and efficiently, bending at the hips to pick up things off the floor. Maybe it was the pencil skirt or the starchy slacks that kept us from bending at the hips. Regardless of the reason, this pose is worth the work if you seek longterm mental and physical stability.

ALIGN

  • From Tadasana (#1), step your feet apart.
  • Keep your feet as close together as you comfortably can as you drop your hips into a squat. 
  • Torso fits between thighs
  • Hands at heart and upper arms around knees
  • *If heels do not stay grounded, place a rolled up towel or blanket under them 
  • *For tighter hips, take a wider stance and turn your feet out (but make sure your knees track your big toes)
  • *If you experience any pain behind your knees, lift your hips or place a block underneath you.

ACTIVATE

  • Relax your front ankles
  • Lengthen your spine by lifting your chest towards your hands
  • Relax shoulders away from ears
  • Press elbows or upper arm into knees to deepen

#8 Sit Back & Relax

RECLINED BOUND ANGLE

When you lay flat on your back, close your eyes and let your hips open, your physical body starts to release tension and your perspective turns inward. When the world around you feels like a tornado is brewing, this is the perfect pose because it calms the nervous system and can help you find something we all seek... contentment.

ALIGN:

  • Lay down flat on your back.
  • Bring the bottoms of your feet together and gently drop your knees open wide.
  • Place your hands on your stomach palms facing down.
  • *If you feel any strain, support each of your thighs on a block or folded blanket. 

ACTIVATE:

  • Close your eyes, soften your neck and shoulders.
  • Allow your hips to soften by relaxing the hip flexers.
  • Feel your breath rise and collapse, and feel any emotions that might be swirling around in your "gut."
  • *The natural tendency in this pose is to push the knees toward the floor in the belief that this will increase the stretch of the inner thighs and groins. But especially if your groins are tight, pushing the knees down will have just the opposite of the intended effect: The groins will harden, as will your belly and lower back

Note: there is a lot of opening going on in your hips, groins, and inner thighs, and for some people the sensations quickly become intense. Don’t overstay your welcome; three to five minutes is plenty.Give yourself some time to settle in and make any adjustments you need.

Photos by Matt Tarro. To see more of his work, check out @Pharroo on Instagram.

Source: www.instagram.com/pharroo