Updated: Jan 13, 2021
The first day back at work in the New Year can evoke a sense of excitement and opportunity, to start afresh and on track to reach new wellness, career, family and personal goals. Whatever they might include.
You get to Wednesday and you start to feel fatigued from those few early morning starts your body has grown unaccustomed to over the holidays. The responsibilities you briefly waved goodbye to as the festive season took over, have arrived back in full force and ready to take on the world.
This immediate pressure, while manageable once you're back into the swing of things, can weigh you down for those first few weeks while you also aim to juggle new projects you raised your glass to on New Year's Eve.
Here are my top five yoga poses to make you feel alive, inspired and motivated.
Lie on your back and interlace your hands behind your head, elbows out wide. Bring your legs into Bound Angle Pose; soles of the feet together and knees out wide. Feel the entire body open and stretch out including the hips and shoulders. Inhale through the nose for a count of five, and sigh out the breath through you mouth to a count back down from five. Exaggerate the exhalation. Repeat as many times as you need.
In a standing position, with a soft bend in your knees, inhale through the nose and raise your arms above your head. As you exhale out through your mouth, let your entire body loosely flop down into a forward fold - keep your knees bent. Inhale and roll up through the spine, vertebrate by vertebrae. Your head is the last thing to come up and add a big shoulder roll at the top as you exhale. Inhale to raise the arms out wide and up to the sky, exhale out through the mouth and let go into your forward fold again. Inhale to roll back up. Continue for three more rounds.
Back in standing, feet hip width apart, elbows bent, arms out in front. Start to rotate your body from side to side. As you do so, lift your heel and come up onto the big toe of the foot you are twisting away from (for example your left foot), as you use your arms to gently move your torso around to the right side, in this instance. Pause here to really feel the pose rinsing out the nervous system that runs along the spine, and then revolve back to centre and around to other side. Keep going...
In a Crescent Lunge, open your arms out wide into 'Cactus'; elbows bent at 90 degrees and palms facing forward, as you squeeze an imaginary pencil in between your shoulder blades. Begin to open the heart to the sky as you find a mini-backbend. Remember to keep the lower rib cage drawing in to activate your abdominal muscles and protect the lower back.
In a seated position, stretch your right leg out in front and bring the sole of your left foot onto the inside of your right thigh (as you would do so if preparing for Janu Sirsasana). Place your left palm on the mat behind you, fingers pointing away. Inhale to point through your right toes, as you lift up onto your left knee and sweep your right arm up and over head, reaching to the wall behind you. Open the chest to the sky, as you find a soft backbend, stretching out the entire front of the body, as you lift your hips to the ceiling. Keep you chin tucked in slightly to protect your neck. Hold for one or two breaths and when ready, exhale, coming out of the pose exactly the same way you came into it. Repeat on the other side.
Notice that there is a postural performance element in each of the above yoga poses to encourage you to stand tall, and shoulders back, with a full heart and an open mind.
Louise FitzRoy is the Principal of Activ Life, a leading health and wellness company based in the Cayman Islands. If you enjoyed this article you may also like: Meditation for self-care and Get yoga motivated with this one tip.