If you stand, walk, or run a lot, Saddle Pose could become your go-to pose to relieve tired or achy legs. Saddle Pose is a Yin Yoga pose focused primarily on stretching the quadriceps and hip flexors. The pose also stretches the abdominal wall and creates a gentle compression in the low back. In Yin Yoga, there are three principles: find your edge (where comfort softly meets discomfort, but you experience no shaking, pain, or pinching) in the pose; find stillness; and hold for a period of time. When our legs feel tired and tight, any stretch may feel intense. If you're new to Saddle Pose or frequently have tight hip flexors, we encourage you to explore this pose with blankets and bolster-type props for safety and comfort. If Saddle Pose is not an accessible pose for you, Half-Saddle, Hero, Reclining Hero, and Thunderbolt may serve as alternative poses.
How to do Crescent Moon Pose:
~ Stretches hip flexors and quadriceps
~ Opens the sacrum-lumbar area
~ Increases hip mobility, range or motion
~ Stimulates organs supporting elimination
Saddle Pose can feel very intense since it includes many parts of the body: ankles, knees, quadriceps, hip flexors, sacrum, lumbar, and shoulders. We recommend moving into this pose and holding it in a mindful manner allowing your nervous system time to relax. This pose creates compression in the low back, so avoid it if you suffer back pain. If you feel knee or any bodily discomfort, be sure to modify the pose for your ability and level of experience.
Yoga Model: Suzy W. is a U.S. Air Force veteran. She enjoys spending time with her four-legged furry friends, learning a new skill, and watching Rick Steves episodes on YouTube. She likes trying things outside her comfort zone, like spending three weeks in Scotland by herself meeting new friends.
We love to embrace stillness. In fact, we encourage people to be "human beings" and not always "human doings" to reset and refresh. However, as Americans, we collectively sit for long periods of time at work, commuting, scrolling, waiting, and more. Do you need some relief from sitting in one place too long? Seated Pigeon Pose is a good stretching posture and countermeasure after sitting for a long time. Some people find the traditional pose aggravates their knees. So, let's explore the more accessible Seated Pigeon Pose which supports mobility and flexibility in the hip joints.
Seated Pigeon Pose is a hip opener and forward bend.
This pose stretches your hip flexors, groin, back, piriformis, and psoas. Additionally, Healthline.com shares that "neuroscience and somatics point to the hips as a potential storage vessel of emotions." In short, hips can store emotional stress that is sometimes released during yoga or stretching. With links to the psoas and adrenal glands, hip stretches may offer an emotional release in addition to physical ease.
How to practice this pose:
1. Find a comfortable seated position in a sturdy chair on a non-slip surface.
1. Starting with both feet on the floor, cross your right ankle over your left knee. Flex your right foot.
3. Softly place your left hand on the sole of your right foot and your right hand over your right knee cap.
4. As you inhale, grow tall and lengthen your spine.
5. As you exhale, gently hinge forward until you notice a stretch (aka the soft side of your edge) in your outer right hip. Then hold for 3-5 breaths and perhaps work up to 1 minute.
6. Repeat on the left side.
A real plus is that this posture can be practiced in a variety of locations. You can practice this anywhere you sit!
Yoga Model: Madison is a military spouse and law student at Boston University. She enjoys hot yoga, and thinks the perfect fall includes a new book and hot chocolate. She is pictured here practicing seated pigeon pose in her home office as she takes a break from studying!
Check out this Powerful Connection article for more information on the hips and emotions relationship.
Need Better Sleep?
With so many benefits associated with yoga, it is no surprise that yoga can help people sleep better. The gentle stretching and relaxing of muscles, tendons, and connective tissue supports getting more and higher quality rest. You can be a totally new beginner or an experienced practitioner to explore this short sequence for better sleep. The National Institute of Health reminds us “you don’t even need to be particularly athletic or flexible” to use yoga for better sleep efficiency. Johns Hopkins’ sleep expert Anastasia Rowland-Seymore, M.D. shared “ the benefits are more due to its (yoga’s) meditative properties” that improves sleep.
Try this four pose sequence to promote better sleep.
1. Bridge Pose
2. Knees to Chest Pose
3. Supine Twist
4. Legs Up the Wall
Spend time in these different poses and find what feels good for you! You can read about these poses, their instructions, benefits, and more, by scrolling through our Yoga resources page.
Check out this Yoga for Sleep article by Johns Hopkins Medicine for more research and recommendations.
Do you ever sit for long periods of time and get an achy back? While you may not have the time to take a yoga class, we invite you to do this mini yoga back sequence that explores the four movements of the spine. This back-focused sequence may provide the refresh you need to get you through your next desk project, airplane flight, or waiting room delay.
The spine's natural range of motion includes: flexion, extension, bending, and twisting.
Flexion is the rounding of the back. Sit tall in your seat with your hands resting palms down on your lap. As you exhale, begin to tuck the chin toward your chest, as you gently push in to and round your upper back. Simultaneously, you can roll your shoulders forward and lift up your pubic bone. Then, inhale and release.
Extension is arching the back. Sit tall in your seat with your hands resting palms down on your lap. Then, inhale and begin to draw your shoulders back, allowing your hands to slide toward your hips and lift your chin, thus creating an arch. Be cautions not to tilt your head back too far, compressing your neck. Then, exhale and release.
Bending is moving the spine in the lateral plane to the left and right. Sit tall in your seat, and hold firmly to the bottom of your chair. Bring the back of your left hand to the left side of your chair. On an inhale, lift your hand up toward the ceiling. Then, exhale as you continue to bring your hand over your head, in a rainbow (or bending) manner. Inhale to unbend, and repeat on the opposite side.
Twisting is rotating the spine to the left and right. Sit tall in your seat and as you exhale, rotate to the left from the base (or lumbar) area of your spine, then a little more mid back (thoracic), and perhaps a little more in the upper (or cervical) neck area. Honor your range of motion and ability.
Use caution in both flexion and twists if you have bone density conditions. Seek your doctor's approval or recommendations before beginning or practicing physical activity.
A good rule of thumb is to exhale as you twist or draw your body into a smaller position, and inhale as you untwist or open your body up to a larger position.
Are you looking to counteract the effects of excessive smartphone and computer use? The neck strain or pain you feel from repetitively using technology devices has a new name...Tech Neck. Some common feelings from Tech Neck include stiffness and soreness in the upper back, shoulders, and neck. Headaches and reduced mobility may also be experienced.
To help prevent or relieve Tech Neck, we hope you explore these two stretches.
Corner Stretch: Find a corner in any room or a door frame. Bring your arms to goal post position and place your palms and forearms on adjacent walls. If it’s comfortable, look up slightly and then slowly step into the corner. Hold for 3-5 breaths, and repeat 3 times. If that’s too intense, keep your gaze at the horizon and simply press into your palms and forearms. This stretch provides a deep upper back and shoulder stretch. (see below image).
Side of Neck Stretch: Draw your chin back slightly to lengthen and align with your neck. Then bring your left ear toward your left shoulder, place your left hand gently on the top of your head, and bring your right hand to the small of your back. Hold for 3-5 breaths, release, and repeat on your right side. If that’s too intense, do not place your hand on the top of the head. The weight of your hand on your head will intensify the stretch. This stretch provides a deep stretch in the sides of your neck. (see above image).
Here are a few other relief techniques:
Yoga Model: Zoey is a Humble Warrior volunteer, and she loves the outdoors, fall, and sunshine.
Vrikshasana (pronounced: "vrik-SHAHS-anna")
Tree pose is a wonderful balancing pose and can be adapted for any level yogi. Balancing in yoga helps to strengthen the ankles, legs, glutes, and core. It also helps the practitioner remain steady and focused. Balancing on one foot can be a challenge, but sometimes being on both feet is hard too! Remember to have fun with your pose, and also give yourself grace.
Feel free to start off near a wall or something sturdy to hold on to for support. Props (a wall is definitely a yoga prop!) are our friends - they are there to help us blossom in any yoga pose.
1. Pick a non-moving spot in front of you to gaze upon.
2. Begin to firmly plant your foot into the ground beneath you. (This is called "grounding" in yoga. Can you lift and wiggle your toes?)
3. If it feels well, engage the upper portion of your standing leg. (Maybe you notice the knee cap lifting here)
4. When you are ready, actively draw the working hip in towards your midline.
5. Engage through your core. If you would like, explore brining the low belly up and in.
6. Kickstand your opposite heel to rest on your ankle. Externally rotate through the hip allowing the knee to open up to the side. Feel free to stay here with the toes plugged into the ground below. You can also explore lifting the foot to rest below the knee or above the knee in the inner thigh area.
7. Place palms together at the heart center, or feel free to find a different arm and hand variation. Grow your "branches" (arms) out to the side, or let them reach up towards the sky.
8. Connect with the breath and remain in your pose for 5-7 breaths.
9. Release when you're ready by lowering the hands, then the raised leg, and return to standing.
Feel free to practice near a wall. Start with the entire hand on the wall, and as you practice. slowly start to take away a finger at a time. Another option is to practice resting the entire side body against the wall for support.
Yoga model: Sara is a boy mom who teaches yoga and fitness in her local community. She is married to a Sheriff's Office Investigator. Together they are two-time NICU parents.
(Sanskrit: Trikonasana; trikon meaning triangle and asana meaning pose)
Let’s take a look at Triangle pose, and don’t fret...no geometry is required. But we do think triangles can be perfect, right, and sometimes (a)cute. Triangle pose is a standing yoga pose that incorporates side bending and deep stretching of the lower back muscles. While it is an intermediate-level pose that requires a degree of strength and balance to practice, practicing it against a wall for stability and using a yoga block helps to make it more accessible.
Use caution if you have neck or knee injuries, and avoid this twisting pose if you have back injuries.
Our model Claire is a former EMS first responder, a trauma-sensitive yoga teacher, boy mom, and self proclaimed bourbon connoisseur.
Virabhadrasana II (veer-ah-bah-DRAHS-anna)
Warrior II is a powerful standing pose, and can help strengthen the lower body. It is often practiced with other poses such as Warrior I, Side Angle Pose, and Peaceful (Reverse) Warrior. Warrior II is a powerhouse of a pose, the hips are open, and the practitioner has the ability to actively ground into the floor below.
You can start with either side. We will start with the left side for the instructions.
1. Begin in standing pose. Step the right foot back towards the back of your mat.
2. Adjust your feet so that your left (front) foot toes face forward and your right (back) foot toes turn out towards 90 degrees.
3. Bend the left knee into a lunge. Bring awareness to the knee so that it so that it doesn't tip in towards your center or bend too far, you should be able to see your left big toe, keeping your knee nicely over your ankle.
4. Intentionally press into the outside edge of the back foot for grounding and support.
5. Arms reach out in opposite directions.. If you left foot is forward, your left arm reaches forward and your right arm reaches back. Both palms face down. Try not to twist your hips when reaching.
6. Engage through the core for stability by bringing the lower belly up and in towards your spine.
7. Center your gaze over your left (front) ring finger.
8. Connect with your breath, staying strong and stead as you breathe for 5-7 breaths.
9. Try repeating to yourself "I am strong. I am steady. I am a warrior."
10. Repeat on the other side. Right leg forward, left leg back.
Feel free to explore practicing from the support and stability of a chair. You could also use a chair in front of you while standing for added stability. Remember to notice the strength in your shape, and the strength in you!
Yoga model: Patricia served 4 years in the Army National Guard and is a proud military spouse of twenty years. She has a 200 hour yoga certification through YogaFaith and started teaching veterans in her community in 2019. She is Trauma Conscious certified with Connected Warriors, and has a Mindful Resilience Certification with the Veteran Yoga Project. She currently teaches yoga through the VA with their Whole Health Program.
Could you shoot an arrow with your hamstrings because they are so tight? From our experience, most people feel this way, so we invite you to explore Wide-Legged Standing Forward Fold Pose. This pose is a gentle inversion and very common in yoga classes. The bend targets a deep stretch to your hamstrings, hips, glutes, and low back. By adjusting the arm positions or using yoga blocks, you can also stretch your shoulders and forearms, and release tension in your back.
Modifications & Safety Tips:
With any inversion, blood flow is increased to the brain, so consult your physician if you have high blood pressure, vertigo, suffer from migraines, and have an untreated concussion. Also, use caution when returning to a standing position
Yoga Model: JoAnn is a Marine Corps and Army veteran who resets and grounds herself by being near water. She enjoys hunting for minerals and fossils along the Great Lakes and volunteers for spay/neuter clinics on Indian reservations. The puppy helper on her mat is Finn.