If we’re being honest here, the person who needs “five yoga poses for the stressed bride” is 100% me, ha! This post is a great reminder that I need to sloooow down. When we moved to Toledo, I anticipated a slower lifestyle (read: not busy). And while I’m way less stressed here and the pace of things is generally slower – I’m no longer going to an office daily from like 8:30 – 7ish – I have found plenty of things to keep me busy. In fact, as of late, I have five different jobs – yup, five. And six if you count this little blog (but I don’t – at least not yet!). In the midst of all of this, we decided to get a puppy the day we moved into our home, close on a house, are trying to make this house a home, oh, and plan a wedding. If all of that weren’t enough, I decided to add some yoga teacher training to the mix, too. While I’m already certified, I didn’t feel quite at the level I wanted to be at to teach at my new studio, so they invited me to take about half of their intensive teacher training (7:30 am – 7:30 pm daily). I’m honestly exhausted just reading that!
As mentioned in this post, wedding planning has not been my favorite. And I can’t be the only bride-to-be out there who feels this way! So, I figured sharing some of my favorite yoga poses and the benefits of each would be beneficial to other brides-to-be out there. Not only has yoga been proven to reduce stress, it comes with the added benefits of toning all of the body parts I, and most brides, want to tone – arms, upper back, abs and butt. Even better, you can do it all from the convenience of your own home. For me, yoga has been the only way I have been able to create stillness in my mind and truly be in the present moment. Over time, I am hoping this will allow me to access this stillness in other environments so I can truly enjoy the present moment, especially at important events such as our wedding. I mean, who doesn’t truly want to be 100% present at their wedding savoring every single moment instead of being a frazzled stressed bride worried about napkins or something silly?! Sign me up! So without further ado, here are five yoga poses for the stressed bride.
Psst – for more at-home bridal workouts, check out this WeddingWire post.
DOWNWARD FACING DOG
The quintessential yoga pose, downward facing dog is likely the number one that comes to mind when you think of yoga. Physically, this pose works the triceps, lats and deltoids – the major muscles most brides want to work if wearing a strapless dress.
Two added bonuses of this pose – 1) it also works the hamstrings, quads, glutes and part of the calf muscles, and 2) since your head is below your heart, downward facing dog is technically an inversion, but without having to go upside down! Inversions help to improve circulation, stimulate the lymphatic system and in general, just slow down your breath which, in turn, helps the body relax which is key for the stressed bride.
When going into this pose, push through the ball mound of the big toes, draw the heels toward your mat (they don’t have to touch – don’t force it!), push through the four corners of the palms and raise your tailbone to the sky. Ensure your core is tight pulling the belly to the spine, shoulders are down the back and the spine is straight. Don’t be afraid to bend your knees – a straight spine here is key, not straight legs. Once you find a comfortable stillness in this pose, take 5-6 long, deep breaths.
HIGH TO LOW PLANK
Also known as a chaturanga or taking a vinyasa (once you take high to low plank through updog/cobra and back to down dog). In my opinion, this is one of the best and quickest ways to get toned arms as you’re working both the triceps and the lats while supporting the weight of your whole body. From high plank shift your weight slightly forward by coming onto the ball mounds of your big toes. Keeping your core tight (are you sensing a theme here?!), lower down half way bringing your elbows in line with your wrists. Be sure not to put too much pressure on your wrists by dumping into them by pressing into the four corners of your hands.
This pose is quite difficult to hold for a long period of time (at least for me!) and is typically a transition from high plank to updog or cobra pose. If you struggle with holding this pose, I recently learned an awesome tip from one of my yoga teachers – you can do high to low plank at the wall! If you try this, just make sure your hands are in line with your chest, take a big step (or two) away from the wall and go from straightening to bending your arms bringing your elbows in line with your wrists again. I promise you can feel it just as much in your triceps! I’ve actually added these to my daily routine and have been doing 25 each day!
For the stressed bride with a fitted gown, toning the glutes is a top priority in the “sweating for the wedding” routine. While there are several ways you can do this in yoga, Warrior III or airplane pose is one of my favorite ways to do so. This pose also allows you to work the hamstrings and part of the calf muscles. You can either go into it during a flow whether in Warrior I, II, humble warrior, crescent lunge, and I’m sure many other ways. You can also just step into it! Make sure your supporting foot is dialed in at 12 o’clock, and again you’re pushing through the ball mound of your big toe and the center of your heel. Both legs are engaging the hamstrings while the lifted leg is just as strong as the standing one and the foot is flexed like you’re standing on the wall behind you. Hips are level and belly button is drawn in the spine. Once you’re steady, you can bring your hands to prayer (as pictured), extended in front of you or by your sides – yogi’s choice! Draw your shoulders back in space to create an updog like shape in your spine. Stay here for 3-5 breaths on each side.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – child’s pose is my absolute favorite pose. If there was a class called “One Hour Child’s Pose,” I’d be ALL OVER IT. Actually, should I just start teaching one?! Ha!
Coming into child’s pose, bring your big toes to touch and extend your knees wide allowing for your belly and chest to rest on the mat in between your legs. Rest your forehead on the mat and extend the arms out in front of you on the mat. I like to relax my forearms to the mat to make it extra restorative.
My favorite part about child’s pose is how it allows you to really focus on your breath. While focusing on your breath, see if you can slow it down bringing your inhales and exhales to equal length – try for 4- 5 seconds each inhale and exhale, for about 6 or 7 breaths. The more the better!
LEGS UP THE WALL POSE
The perfect way to rest after a practice or just after a long day is with legs up the wall. This is another pseudo inversion like downdog since the head is below the heart allowing for the breath to slow down and the body to completely relax.
Bring your hips as close to the wall as possible letting your legs rest on the wall. For extra comfort, place a pillow under your head and rest your arms at your sides. You may start to notice a tingling sensation after awhile in your feet and legs – this is normal as the blood is draining in the opposite direction as it normally is. This pose is amazing for those who are on their feet all day!
Stay in this pose as long as you’re comfortable. You’ll likely notice your mind starting to wander to all of the bridal duties on your wedding to-do list which is totally normally when you’re a stressed bride! When that happens, acknowledge the thought and then go back to focusing on your breath. It can help to count the inhales and exhales or say to yourself as you’re breathing in “inhale” and as you’re breathing out “exhale.”
There you have it, brides!
Do you have any “sweating for the wedding” or tips for the stressed bride? Leave one in the comments below! And if you’re looking for a great way to stay accountable to your workouts before the big day, check out WeddingWires Health and Fitness Forum where brides share their fitness routines and help each other stay on track!
Thank you to WeddingWire for sponsoring this post! As always, all opinions are my own.