Tag Archives: yoga

Who are You Grateful for?

"We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives."  -John F. Kennedy

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.”
-John F. Kennedy

Point to Ponder:
Who are you grateful for?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

Who are you grateful for? If you are like me, I would guess that this is a fairly simple question to answer and that you could create a long list of people, however, it’s likely that these people may not hear or see the words “I am grateful for you” as much as they’d like to and as often as you feel grateful for them.

It was at this exact same time last year that we launched our “I am grateful for you”, week-long letter writing campaign, and it was nothing short of beautiful! As a result of you, our members, writing gratitude letters during classes, we mailed over three hundred notes by the Thanksgiving holiday. That was approximately 2.5 gratitude notes per person, which translates to over 600 uplifted and happy hearts — with both the sender and receiver experiencing the proven benefits of gratitude. Therefore, we are absolutely committed to making this a pre-Thanksgiving tradition! My personal goal is to crush last year’s number and aim for at least three hand-written notes per person.

iGnite is emotionally invested in your well-being and we believe that the act of expressing gratitude verbally or in a handwritten note has the power to repair relationships and transform lives. And because having healthy relationships is paramount to living a low-stress and fulfilling life, we have ordered one thousand cards and we’d love to have ZERO left over when you’re done with them! The only action required is for you to attend classes throughout this week, have at least three people in mind that you are grateful for, then fill out the notes & envelopes during designated class time. The postage and trip to the post office is on us!

Finally, there is one more thing that I encourage you to pay close attention to during and after writing your gratitude notes, and that’s how you feel. Because you will have just finished exercising and/or practicing yoga, your endorphins will be flowing and you will already be feeling great, but all gratitude research proves that the result of expressing gratitude is an increase in life-satisfaction and well-being. In fact, one fascinating and very relative study by Steve Toepfer, associate professor in Human Development and Family Studies at Kent State University, found that “when a study participant wrote up to three gratitude notes about something that was important to them (not a generic “thank you” for you a gift, etc) the more they improved significantly on happiness and life satisfaction. The new and potentially important finding is that depressive symptoms decreased. Even more fascinating is that by writing these letters – 15 to 20 minutes each, once a week for three weeks to different people – well-being increased significantly.”

Gratitude. We can question its power and significance, but it’s all backed up by research. The more we express it, live in it and share it, the happier, more fulfilled and healthier we are. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s the cheapest and most effective fix on the market. Unlike everything else, there are no crazy side-effects — with the exception of extreme joy — and we can access it at our disposal. Now that’s what I call some serious good news!

Action Item:
Think about 3 people who you are grateful for and write them a personal “I am grateful for you” note this week!

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Forever Forward, Never Back

iGnite - go forward, never back

Point to Ponder:
Do you ever find yourself living in the past?

by Neissa Brown Springmann

by Neissa Brown Springmann

From September 3 through last Tuesday, September 15, I’ve had company staying with my family. Knowing that I was in a new city with children while my husband Russell was traveling, my father, stepmom, mother and sister all made special plans to come out and be with me on and around my birthday. And, unbeknownst to me, my dad, who is a total worker-bee and can’t sit still unless he’s quickly eating or watching a sporting event, had a specific agenda: to help get us out of boxes and settled into our new house. A.k.a. WORK!

It was wonderful to see my family, and I was so thankful to have them, but by Tuesday I was eager to get the kids and I back to a routine (a.k.a. CONTROL!). The time for exercise, uninterrupted time, responding to thirteen days worth of email and an opportunity to tackle my ever-growing personal and professional to-do list had finally come, and after dropping my children Durant and Malaine off at pre-school on Tuesday, it was MY time!

I planned to take a quick walk around the neighborhood near the kids’ preschool and then go to a yoga class. It was sprinkling outside, but the idea of walking in a light rain sounded delicious. Just before heading off, a dear friend called so I grabbed my phone to walk and talk.

The friend asked how I was doing with our recent move, and I told him I was struggling. I expressed that I was not questioning God’s plan, however the greatest challenge has been adjusting to no longer having an amazing community of family, friends, and support (CONTROL). And, having felt so purpose-filled in Austin, I was struggling with finding my purpose in San Diego, which was why I was clinging to my life in Austin. He listened intently and having moved a lot himself, he validated my feelings and gave me some helpful advice: take baby steps forward, take care of me, and don’t compare my life in San Diego to my life in Austin. It was a new time and I needed to work on slowing my brain down and releasing my expectations. I agreed with everything he suggested, and I proudly told him that today was the day that I was going to focus on Neissa — hence the walk and yoga class.

During my walk, the sprinkle turned into a solid rain—so much so that my eyes burned from the little bit of eyeliner I was wearing. I was totally fine with this because I had clothes to change into, it was MY DAY, and San Diego needs the rain. So, within twenty-five minutes I was back at my car to grab my yoga mat and a change of clothes when I realized my worst nightmare — my purse, wallet, and work bag with computer, day planner, mail, and work notebooks were all gone. They had been stolen! My driver’s license, expired passport, credit cards, check books….gone. It was ALL gone, including MY DAY! “My day” quickly turned into the misery of filing police reports, canceling bank accounts and credit cards, calling pawn shops and driving around with the hope of finding my things lying around the area.

As you would expect, “the day of me” and getting anything on my to-do list accomplished was no longer an option. I won’t bore you with the un-fun details of trying to get an California driver’s license when you have no form of ID except a paper copy of an expired driver’s license, a paper copy of your birth certificate and a Costco card, but what I do want to share is what I learned through the process, as I think it can be universally applied. I’ve had to find reason and some glimpse of positivity in this incredibly frustrating experience. Ultimately, I think it relates to our ability to shine throughout life, as I wrote about a couple weeks ago in It’s Time to Turn On Your Shine.

4 Things I’ve Learned the Hard Way:

  1. For starters, my work, technology and to-do lists have been and are my idols. They give me purpose and security and keep me distracted. Upon realizing that all of my things were taken, it became absolutely clear that God was telling me to let go, trust in Him and let Him take over. Do I think He made this happen? Of course not. Bad things happen to good people every single second of the day, but He knows that I am feeling completely out of control and have been clinging to every thing that makes me feel safe and secure. I shine when I find comfort, hope and security in God rather than things.
  2. Second, while it is a terrible and sad inconvenience, it’s actually nice to have my to-do list stolen! For the first time ever, I’m not busying myself with it and frantically trying to find time on my computer so I can respond to emails. And, you know what? Life is going on! I actually thought I was that important! Yes, I am skimming email on my phone, but I’m not checking email on my phone and computer. It’s actually liberating! Will I get another computer? Of course, and I pray I can recover everything I lost. But for the first time, I am giving myself a real break– because I don’t have any other choice. My poor kids actually get a focused mom. I shine when I am a present mom, wife, friend and person.
  3. Third, you must keep moving to survive. Always go forward, never back. I actually wrote down this quote weeks ago in a notebook…that was of course stolen from my work bag. I heard the words from the goofy kid movie “Shark Boy,” and for weeks I’ve thought about how perfect the advice is for our move from Austin to San Diego, and most recently, how I’ll deal with recovering my stolen items…and really for any of us who struggle with living in the past or comparing our present to our past! As for my recent move, it’s critical that I stop looking back and comparing my life in Austin to my life in San Diego. My spirit will not survive if I continue to do this. I have to move forward every day. Regarding my stolen possessions, I so badly want to live in the past and cry over what happened, dwell on it and talk about how unfair it is, but again, I won’t survive by doing that. I have to move forward, take baby steps and make progress in the recovery process. What’s done is done. I can’t change it and there’s no looking back. Just as with life in general, our past does not define us! Thank goodness we have evolved and aren’t the same people we once were. Most importantly, we will not survive nor thrive unless we focus on our future and on becoming who we need to become and are created to become. Our past has been given to us for memory’s sake and to give us wisdom — but not to live in. Sometimes our past can motivate us, but too often we get stuck in it and are unable to move forward and appreciate what we have right now. For women specifically, we are usually desperate to be the same weight as we were pre-children, on our wedding day or at some point when we were younger. I get that, but that’s no way to live and thrive. I think we would be better served and our bodies would respond in the ways we are hoping for if we treated it with more appreciation and gratitude. We beat ourselves up — thinking we need to look how we used to look. That is torture, and the antidote is to always look forward. We shine when we give thanks and appreciate what we have.
  4. Last, within one hour of the theft, iGnite leaders and dear friends Kathleen Parker and Catherine Sanderson randomly called. It was so comforting and calming to hear their voices. Then, I immediately texted the iGnite Team, informed them of what happened and asked for their love and prayers. Knowing they were praying and sending me love made a significant difference in my attitude and spirit. I knew this before, and I continue to be reminded of the importance of community. You can’t have enough community and supportive friends. We shine in community and are #strongertogetHER!

Action Item:
Remind yourself that your past has been given to your for memory’s sake and to give you wisdom — but not to live in. Look forward only. Appreciate and be present in the now.

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Finding Mindfulness…on the Mat

Finding Mindfulness…on the Mat

iGnite leader Amy Younkman

by Amy Younkman

In the day and age of quick fixes, constant fads and “7 minute workouts,” it can be hard to slow down and ask ourselves, Is this really what’s best for my body?   In our American culture, there seems to be an ongoing obsession with ‘new forms’ of exercise; for example, the latest, greatest form of functional fitness, performed in an efficient, short period of time, giving you the most “bang for your buck,” and relying on external sources to guide and motivate you.

While these forms of exercise are effective and do lead to a fit, strong body, they are only part of the picture if we are truly seeking a healthy lifestyle.  By relying solely on these forms of fitness, we risk creating a vicious cycle of continually striving to be faster, stronger, look younger, be more ripped, track more daily steps…etc.  We never actually “arrive”, because there’s always that next level to strive for.  And that can get exhausting!

iGnite Yogalates on Lady Bird Lake

Yogalates on Lady Bird Lake

It’s important to balance these forms of exercise with what I like to call “mindfulness on the mat” so that we can continue to enjoy a variety of activities and pursuits, and most importantly, so we can prevent injuries and be more mindful of our existing ones.  When we step onto our yoga or Pilates mat, our first priority is tuning into our body and tuning out our goals, expectations, what we did yesterday, and what we need to do tomorrow.  If we pay attention, our body will tell us what it needs.  The ego is not invited onto our mat.  With time, practice, and patience we begin to notice imbalances and places we hold tension and resistance.  We learn to practice compassionate observation and tolerance for ourself so we are in a better place to extend it to others once off the mat.

Yoga and Pilates are two wonderful practices that teach mindfulness on the mat so that we can be more self-aware in our over-stimulated, consumer-driven world.  Yoga is over 5000 years old.  Pilates is nearly 100 years old.  These time-honored practices have much to teach us!

Pilates is a form of strength training with little to no impact.  It emphasizes alignment, core strength, muscular rebalancing and joint strength.  It is a very safe way to stay fit, prevent injury, and rehabilitate from injury, while increasing balance, body awareness, confidence and better posture.  While we use props during class to keep it interesting and fun, the classical Mat Pilates series is a total body workout using your own body as your guide.

Yoga has become so westernized that it’s hard to define what yoga is today.  In its truest form, yoga teaches us about ourselves and our relationship to the world.  It ignites awareness about how we respond to difficulty and ease, to consistency and change, to the way we face our universal human struggles of avoiding difficult situations (hard yoga postures, tough life issues), or the way we cling to the familiar and comfortable (postures that we can do, habits we grow accustomed to).

iGnite Power Pilates at Rollingwood Park

Power Pilates

Besides reducing stress, yoga also teaches us balance between sthira (effort) and sukha (ease) both in our yoga practice and in life.  It teaches us to balance stability with mobility, and strength with flexibility, so that we can balance setting boundaries in our relationships with creating the space we need.  Yoga teaches us to feel the poses rather than force them.  The postures are questions, not answers.  We ask ourselves, “How can I create more ease in this pose?”  which then translates off the mat to “How can I create more ease in my life?”  Yoga is not about doing the poses; it’s about undoing what gets in the way of the poses.

In a Vinyasa Yoga class, we become aware of our breath, the life force that pulsates through our body.  From there we let the breath guide us and connect us with movement.  While we get stronger and more flexible practicing weight-bearing and balancing exercises, twists, backbends, forward folds and inversions, we also become stronger and more flexible in our mind.  We tune into the subtle energy body and discover what we have always heard to be true: that the body and mind cannot act separately from one another.  Yoga is a practice because, rather that striving to accomplish something, we continually return to the bottomless well of wisdom and guidance from within.  As Judith Lasater, veteran yogi, says: “Slowing down is the same thing as waking up.”

So, as you plan your fitness program, be sure and schedule time to consistently practice “mindfulness on the mat”  through Pilates and yoga.  With regular practice, you will not only become more mindful and body-aware, you will find more ease and inner strength in your body and in your life.  Best of all, you will bring your newfound insights into everything you do, which will add to your enjoyment and keep you safe and injury-free!


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Our 20 Habits for Feeling Our Best

20 Habits for Feeling Your Best

As a group of health & fitness professionals, the iGnite leadership team uses a number of habits to keep ourselves feeling our absolute best.  And since we all love hearing new ideas, tips & tricks for living our best life, we thought — better to share them!  So, here are some of our team’s tips & tricks for feeling our best — hopefully you’ll find they enhance and improve your life in body, mind and spirit, too 🙂

1. Prioritize Sleep

Catherine Sanderson

Catherine Sanderson

“The thing that has made the biggest difference in making my body feel its best and healthiest has been prioritizing SLEEP.  Yes, that means over working out(!), over late nights of squeezing in that last to-do followed by early mornings, over my favorite tv shows, over … lots of things! I’ve found that I am a completely new person when I make sure that I get around 8 hours of sleep.  The idea that you will be ‘healthier’ if you skimp on sleep in order to exercise more is just plain wrong.  Your body needs sleep to heal and rest before it can perform exercise well and in a way that is helping your body more than hurting it. The second I accepted this and prioritized sleep for health above all else, my energy, mood and ability to take on other things skyrocketed.
I’ve learned that that workout/errand/to do list item/television show can wait.  Making sleep #1 and then scheduling in an exercise routine that allows me to get the zzzzzz’s our bodies so crave is my feel-great secret!”  

2. Prepared Healthy Snacks

Amy Younkman

Amy Younkman

“I always fave a variety of cut-up veggies in the fridge so I’m less apt to reach for crackers to dip and munch on.”

3. Regularly Getting in the Water

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker

Dunking myself in any water, anywhere, anytime is something that I crave and that makes me feel rejuvenated.  Studies have proven that if you are in, on or near water you are 90 percent happier!  I don’t think there is anyone around who does not feel rejuvenated when jumping in a pool, river, lake or ocean.”

4. Take Probiotics

Betty Cunningham

Betty Cunningham

“One of my stay healthy secrets is Ortho Probiotic.  I used to suffer from dry mold allergies every fall.  I was congested from October into November, and I had a constant cough.   The Ortho Probiotic has made a huge difference.  I take one in the morning on an empty stomach before I run.”

5. Planned Date Nights

Amy Younkman

Amy Younkman

“One thing that helps me feel my best is my Friday date night with the hubster at Fonda San Miguel here in Austin – we hit happy hour followed by a quiet evening at home.”

6. Get Regular Massages

Jill Watts

Jill Watts

“I get monthly massages at Massage Envy, it’s reasonably priced and a sure way to get yourself a relaxing massage once a month! I really enjoy it — they have great therapists for all types of massage and the monthly fee is only $59.99. Plus you get other perks and discounts being a member and you can go to locations all over the U.S. if you want to get a massage while traveling.”

Molly Daniels

Molly Daniels

“I make sure to schedule a 60 minute massage quarterly, if not more often! I have been to several places in Austin, all varying in price, including Mecca Gym and Spa, Massage Harmony in Westlake and Foot Massage in Northwest Hills. With how much I am on my feet during the week, I make this a priority to help me feel good!”

7. Morning Prayer

Amy Younkman

Amy Younkman

“I make sure to pray before I get out of bed in the morning.”

8. Juicing

Jill Watts

Jill Watts

“I bought a NutriBullet about a year ago and I absolutely love it! I try to have one a day, and it’s a perfect way to get a healthy boost without spending $8 on a green smoothie.
I just pop in 1/2 greens (I prefer spinach), and then 1/2 fruits, (whatever I have) and then a boost like flax seed, chia, almonds, etc.  Then you just add water, so no added sugar!
It takes a few minutes to extract all the healthy nutrients from those veggies and fruits. You can put any type of veggie and fruit in. It’s quick, easy and healthy!”

9. Calming Pet Time

Cary Fyfe

Cary Fyfe

“My go-to for nurturing my emotional self is to sit down — that’s the key part, sitting down — to pet my dog, Sam. Within seconds, I feel my heart slow down, my brain quiets and a smile comes across my face — no matter what weights I’m carrying that day. Then the icing on the cake is when all my other animals hear the “love-rubs” happening, and here they come! It’s a guaranteed drop in blood pressure…and, really, what is better than a dog-smile?”

10. Homemade Skin Care

Alli Phillips

Alli Phillips

“With ingredients most of us probably already have in our pantry and fridge, I create lotions, scrubs, and occasionally masks, to supplement my skin-care routine. I have a few “must-have” skin-care staples, listed below.  And when I have time to treat myself to a full “home-spa-day” I’ll experiment with more “complex” recipes.

Unrefined Organic Coconut Oil
Instead of store-bought moisturizer and body lotion, I use coconut oil (unrefined and organic) on my skin. I apply it daily after I shower/bathe to both body and face, and I also use the excess on my hands as a “leave-in conditioner,” running my fingers through my hair after applying to my face and body. (Also, although I don’t wear make-up very often, I discovered coconut oil is a great natural make-up remover.)

Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil & Organic Brown Sugar
About once a week I make a body-scrub using EVOO and brown sugar. I don’t follow a recipe, I simply mix the two ingredients together adding more or less of one or the other until I get the consistency/texture I want, depending on the exfoliation intensity needed/desired (coarse for feet, legs, hands, and arms; medium coarseness for torso; light coarseness for neck and face). This scrub is very gentle and leaves the skin feeling amazing.

In a quick online search of “home-made skin-care” you’ll find countless recipes that include nourishing yet simple ingredients like oats, honey, almond milk, peaches, avocado, pumpkin, cucumber, lemon, and even coffee and cocoa(!) to name just a few!”

11. Nutritionist Consultations

Molly Daniels

Molly Daniels

“I see Applied Clinical Nutritionist Joseph Strickland of Better Body Clinical Nutrition once every 12 weeks. I began seeing Joseph in May 2012 specifically for allergy issues, hives, and constant fatigue, and after the success I’ve had with him, I continue my visits to check in and see how my body is functioning. I currently take 4 different Standard Process supplements that he specifically recommends for my body that I buy from People’s Pharmacy. I can tell a difference when I miss a day or two, and I know how important they are for me to maintain a healthy body.”

12. Nighttime Technology Turnoff

Amy Younkman

Amy Younkman

“I make sure to turn off the computer at night and crawl into bed with a good read.”

13. Evening Treat

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker

“I always drink a large glass of chocolate milk each evening.  It has been proven by studies over and over again–even by our University of Texas — as the number one muscle recovery drink of all time!  It tastes SO good and truly helps my muscles recover, and I sleep so well.  I love it!”

14. Varied Workouts

Molly Daniels

Molly Daniels

“I make sure to go to different iGnite workout classes weekly. Yes, I know I work for iGnite, but I feel different when I teach versus when I participate. I am “on” in different ways when I teach than when I take a class. I’m able to step out of my ‘teaching brain’ and simply follow the leader’s instructions. I don’t enjoy working out on my own, and in fact, I don’t do it. I appreciate going to different classes, and I listen to my body when it’s telling me to speed up or slow down.”

15. Self-Guided Yoga

Amy Younkman

Amy Younkman

“I make sure to schedule a weekly yoga session with and for myself.”

16. Cranberry Water

Molly Daniels

Molly Daniels

“I always have a pitcher of the iGnite cranberry water in my fridge! I get bored of drinking plain water, and I enjoy this refreshing drink.”

17. Morning Stretching Ritual

Amy Younkman

Amy Younkman

“Kitchen counter stretching and moving my spine in 6 ways first thing each morning while waiting for my tea to steep helps me continue to feel my best.”

18. A Favorite Eye Cream

Kathleen Parker

Kathleen Parker

“My eye cream Olay Total Effects 7 in 1 Eye Cream: I am addicted to it and put it on three times a day!  It has a little glisten to it and it so hydrating.  It truly has helped my bags under my eyes go away that I inherited from my sweet Mom — it is awesome stuff, AND is available at the grocery store!”

19. Body Oil

Cary Fyfe

Cary Fyfe

“My go-to for just feeling pretty and well-taken care of is to spray a few drops of my favorite oil — Caudalie Divine Oil — onto my palms, then I rub it behind my ears, under my nose and on my neck. It smells so quietly fresh, and hydrates my skin beautifully. I sometimes rub a little onto the ends of my hair, and, well, it just makes me feel pretty and fresh!”

20. Bike Ride Escape

Amy Younkman

Amy Younkman

“I go for a bike ride and leave any worries or distractions behind me!”


Although all of these habits are unique to each of us, one common habit we all share (in addition to exercise!)  is that all of us rest and recognize that we can’t have one (exercise) without the other (rest)!  No one can perform exercise to their fullest ability without adequate rest.

So, go ahead — pick out one or a few of these habits and test drive them in your own wellness routine!  We hope they iGnite your body, mind and spirit.

Have some great healthy habits and tricks of your own? Please share them with us by leaving a comment below!  We love hearing your feedback and learning from you.

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The Magical Tibetan Twist

by Cary Fyfe

by Cary Fyfe

As we move more deeply into November, and closer to — ready for this? — The Holidays!! — I want to share my yoga “go-to” with you. This magical move is for those moments when, in one minute, your head is spinning wildly off of your body, and in the very next, you fall asleep while standing in line at the post office, still holding on to your packages. This move is called a “Tibetan Twist”, and it reconnects my body and mind every single time that I do it.

How-To:

Twist_w-1 Twist_w-2 Twist_w-3

So here we go…stand up, feet hip-distance apart, lift your arms straight out to the sides, to shoulder height (like you’re pretending to be a bird, one that could fly to Grandma’s house and not have to ride in the car with the kids for 5 hours), and:

  • twist right, twist left
  • inhale right, exhale left, breathe in and out, through your nose
  • twist 21 times on each side, and you will soon love yourself and your life again.

Benefits

If anxiety is poking at you, twist and breathe slowly, for calming. If lethargy is plaguing you, move more quickly, for energy. And if you’ve had too much pecan pie and dressing, twist away and your full belly will thank you. You can do this anywhere — yes, people will stare, but we are entering the Season of Wonder, so who cares? Just put the packages down first, twist and breathe away, and the wonderers will wish they knew what you knew. And now, I’ll leave you with a fun-fact: the magic of 21 times has another story, and there are 4 other exercises in the Tibetan series, but I will stop here and say — a little pre-Christmas gift from me to you — the next time you see Amy Younkman, ask her to tell you more because she is a “Tibetan Five” expert! Happy Travels, Happy Feasting and Happy Twisting!

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Heart Opening Yoga Sequence

Video not showing up? Watch it here on YouTube
A written version of this yoga sequence is below.

by Meg O’Connell

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and I often get caught up in all of the festivities of the holiday, especially with children. It is also wonderful, while celebrating all of this love, to take the time to love on yourself. With all of the emotional events that we experience and witness, we close off part of our emotional capacity to ourselves and to others. We physically let go of our posture and emotionally feel tapped out. So, take a little time to focus on yourself. When you take the time to nurture yourself, you will feel more love in the world for yourself and for your loved ones. Feel your capacity to love grow!

Enjoy this short Heart Opening Sequence:

  1. Chest Opening with the Breath
    You can take this seated in Easy Pose or in Mountain Pose. Interlace your fingers at your heart center and inhale.  As you exhale, extend the arms forward and reach through your palms, letting the upper back round. Stay in the position for your next inhale, then with your exhale, separate your hands and reach the elbows back behind you. Then repeat this 3-5 times.
  2. Threading the Needle Twist
    Come onto your hands and knees, with the knees being just slightly wider than the hips. With your inhale, extend you right arm up to the ceiling and with your exhale, thread the arm back under the left. Repeat this 4 times and then switch to the left side.
  3. Supported Side Arm with bound ankle
    Still on your hands and knees (bring the knees right back under the hips), extend your right leg back, you can keep this foot on the ground or lift it. Float your left foot slightly out and inhale the right arm up to the ceiling, opening the chest and hips. Once you have your balance, bring your right hand to your right foot and press the foot into the hand, spiraling the chest open. Stay for 3-5 breaths. Repeat on the left.
  4. Down Dog with bent knees
    Instead of working with the hamstrings, really focus on the chest. Keep the knees bent and really draw the chest back to the thighs. You can sway, twist —  whatever feels best to you. Take 5 breaths.
  5. Warrior 2 with bound hands
    Bring your right foot through into a lunge and pivot your left foot to the ground. Draw energy into the legs and then lift the hands and open the arms into Warrior 2. The chest and hips are now open to the right. Make sure there is life in the left foot. Bring your hands behind the back and interlace the fingers. Take a full breath in and fold at the hip to the inside of the right knee. Press the back of the hands up to the ceiling and let the head go. Try to keep the spin long. Stay for 5 Breaths. Transition back into your lunge and step back into your down dog. Repeat with your left leg.
  6. Cobra into Childs Pose
    From Down dog, lower your knees back to the ground. With your inhale, bring the hips forward, lowering them towards the ground and bringing your shoulders over your palms. The elbows might stay bent or straighten depending on your back and how it feels. With your exhale, draw the hips back to the heels. With your inhale bring the hips forward and open back up into Cobra, then exhale into child’s pose. Take this movement 3-5 times and then rest back into child’s pose. Bring your arms down to your side and take 3 breaths into the back of the heart. Feel your chest and belly expand against your thighs.
  7. Supported Spinal Savasana
    Take a blanket or towel and fold it so that it is long and skinny. Bring one end to the base of your spine. With the soles of the feet on the ground, roll the spine down along the roll. Let the shoulders roll over each side and the head should be supported by the blanket as well, so you might need a second blanket or block. Let the arms rest to the side or extend them over your head and then bend the elbows, resting the back of the forearm and hand on the ground. You can extend the legs if that is comfortable for you and let the toes fall open. Stay for 3-5 minutes, or as long as you want!

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Yoga Poses to Relieve Tension in the Neck, Shoulders & Spine

Because many of us store  tension in our necks, shoulders and backs, it is crucial to know what we can do to help relieve that tension and physical stress in a safe and healthy way. Whether you spend your days sitting at a desk, running kids around, driving in the car, or however — take the time to do these moves a couple times a week and watch the tension begin to fade!

Poses demonstrated by iGnite yoga instructor Amy Younkman

Join us for an iGnite yoga class on the lake Fridays at 6:00am and 8:30am! View our class schedule here

1. Cat/Cow Pose

Cat/Cow Pose

  • BENEFITS: This pose is beneficial for warming up the spine and stretching the torso and neck while focusing on deeply inhaling and exhaling. It is a great first exercise to begin to tune into the breath, bring suppleness to the spine and create awareness of where you are holding tension. Focus on the breath, each time trying to go a little deeper.
  • TRY IT! Step 1: Start on all fours in table top position, lining up wrists and knees and keeping your spine and head in a neutral position. Step 2: On the inhale, draw your chest and tailbone up to the sky, allowing your belly to sink down and your eyes to look straight ahead. Step 3: On the exhale, reverse the tilt of your pelvis by curling your tailbone down and rounding your spine toward the sky as you release your head towards the floor. Repeat several times.

2. Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose

  • BENEFITS: Great for stretching the chest, neck and spine while calming the mind and stimulating the abdominal organs, lungs and thyroid. Bridge is a great release for the low back while energizing the legs and stretching the iliopsoas and thighs.
  • TRY IT! Step 1: While lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet hip distance apart, about 8 – 10″ from your sit bones. Step 2: Press your feet and arms actively into the floor and lift your hips, keeping your knees directly over your heels. Step 3: Draw your sternum towards your chin and try clasping your hands and reaching your fingers and tailbone towards your heels, creating length in the neck and broadening across the front of the chest.

3. Reclined Abdominal Twist

Reclined Abdominal Twist

  • BENEFITS: Stretches the lower back and tones the abdominals while stretching and strengthening the abductors and obliques. Twists aid digestion, improve breathing and ease back and neck tension.
  • TRY IT! Step 1: Bend both knees into chest, tuck the chin in slightly and gently push the lower back and sacrum toward the floor. Step 2: Extend your arms out to the side in touchdown position, palms facing up. Step 3: On an inhalation, pin your inner thighs and knees together. Step 4: On an exhalation, lower both knees to the right, twisting through the abdomen as you turn your head and look to the left. Try to keep your shoulder blades looped down your back pressing towards the ground. Step 5: On the inhalation, return the knees and head to center. Step 6: On the next exhalation, lower your legs to the left as you turn your head to the right. Inhale and return the knees and head to center. Repeat 2 – 3 times.

4. Forward Fold with Arms Washing Overhead

Forward Fold

  • BENEFITS: Calms the brain, helps relieve stress in the neck and shoulders, stimulates the liver and kidneys, releases the low back and stretches the hamstrings, calves and hips.
  • TRY IT! Step 1: Clasp your hands behind your back, draw your shoulder blades down your back, broaden across the chest, and reach her knuckles down towards the ground as you straighten your arms. (You can also clasp a belt or towel behind your back if your shoulders are tight.) Step 2: On an inhalation, lift your clasped hands up behind you and begin to fold forward, bending from the hip joints, not from the waist. Step 3: Release your head towards the ground and melt your chest towards your thighs. Keep a gentle bend to your knees if your hamstrings are tight. Step 4: Let your extended arms wash overhead. With each inhale, try to expand and lengthen; with each exhale, try to relax and soften deeper into the pose. Stay here for 8 – 10 breaths.