Three things I like to do each day:  Stretch, Strengthen, Soothe.

You can do the following trio any time, separately or as a complete group.  I happen to be a morning person so I like to do them all before I go to teach yoga for the day.  These are simple and effective tools to add to your self-care tool box.  And if you don’t have a self-care tool box yet, these will be a great place to start.

Stretch.  Stretch your body.  This can be done before you even get out of bed.  Just move around and stretch in a way that feels good in that moment.  Reach arms and legs up toward the ceiling and let your back be completely supported by your bed.  Stretch your toes and fingers.  Roll your wrists and ankles.  Move your jaw around and stretch your face.  Stretch everything. Reach out through your legs and arms.  Take a minute and s t r e t c h your whole body.  If you are not a morning person, you can do random stretching throughout they day.  Maybe while waiting for the tea/coffee water to heat up.  Maybe while dinner is cooking.  Maybe right before bed.  Maybe after a nap.  If you start to stretch, your body will likely know exactly what to do and take over.  Pay attention to your pet if you have one.  They are the stretch masters.

Strengthen.  In addition to stretching, I like to strengthen.  It’s a nice balance to be flexible and strong.  One “fun” way to get strong is with a wall chair.  Just put your back on the wall and slide down as if sitting in a chair.  Make sure your knees are stacked above your ankles and really press into the wall.  Feel your legs, buttocks and core work.  Use everything to press your whole back into the wall.  Don’t forget to breathe.  For added joy and sheer delight, take your arms out in front of you, chest height, like Frankenstein arms, and draw tiny circles, ten to 20 in each direction with your arms.  You’re welcome:)  Start with seconds and see if you can work your way up to one minute in your wall chair.  In yoga, chair pose is called utkatasana.  It means fierce/mighty pose.  Get your fierce and mighty vibe on in this variation of chair, using a wall for support.  See the video here.

Soothe yourself.  Soothe.  Soothe.  Soothe.  Even the word sounds relaxing.  One of the easiest ways to soothe is to focus on your breath.  Breathe and pay attention to each breath.  We take approximately 20,000 breaths a day, but most of these are automatic, without intention or attention.  Just sit or lie down and do conscious breathing.  It’s so simple.  Observe your body breathing.  Notice each inhale.  Notice each exhale.

Sometimes I’ll use this mantra:  Inhaling.  Exhaling.

I silently say the word inhaling as I inhale.  Take the slightest pause at the top of the inhale and then as I’m exhaling, I’ll silently say the word exhaling.  Take the slightest pause at the bottom of your exhale.  Then repeat this whole glorious cycle.  So soothing to breathe with awareness.  Keep your breath steady and full.  Allow your breath to move freely with grace and ease.  Gentle, flowing breath is a very powerful tool to soothe your mind and your body.  If you have an area that needs some extra TLC, you can visualize your breath going to that area with super healing, soothing powers.  I set a timer for 5-10 minutes.  One minute counts if that’s what works for you that day.  And longer is always great.

Say yes to stretching, strengthening and soothing.  You deserve it.


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