As 2020 draws to a close, take a moment to reflect, rebalance and feel good. It has been an anxiety-filled year for everyone to varying degrees, so now is a good time to pause, check in with yourself and practise a little self-care.
Born in Hong Kong and based in London, Sarah Highfield is a leading yoga teacher and writer. She is the founder of Yogagise Yoga and shares her top poses for working through uncertain times in your life.
Yoga is an effective way to retreat from the distractions of modern life and find inner-stillness and calm. Move slowly through the poses, listening to your body, and breathing deeply through your nose. If something doesn’t feel right, slowly come out of the pose and rest.
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WILD THING POSE
This pose feels so vibrant and uplifting, any feelings of anxiety I have often melt away in Camatkarasana. Enter into this pose slowly as it’s a deep stretch and requires both strength & flexibility, as well as a lot of shoulder stability.
Benefits of the pose: Stretches the front of the body and hip flexors, strengthens back and shoulders, improves balance, opens your heart up and releases emotions, and energises the body.
Start in downward facing dog pose and lift your left leg up in the air, opening up the left hip. Bend the leg and look under your right armpit to check that you can see your foot.
Drop your left foot down to the floor, pivot on your right hand and right foot, and flip over.
Once you have flipped over, press your right hand firmly down and lift your chest up towards the ceiling, creating a beautiful backbend, and stretch your left hand back.
Hold for five deep breaths and then to come out of the pose, flip back over by bringing left hand down to the floor in front of you, and let the legs follow through so you end up back in downward facing dog pose.
Repeat on the second side.
This pose is said to mimic a tiger when it wakes up. It’s a fun pose and as with all backbends, helps to release tension and boost endorphins, both of which are effective anxiety relievers.
Benefits of the pose: Works your core stability, tones your abdomen, improves balance, lifts your mood, and stretches the entire front of your body and thighs.
Start on your hands and knees. Check that your hips are above your knees, and your shoulders are above your wrists. Your knees should be hip-width distance apart and your hands shoulder-width distance apart.
With an inhalation, simultaneously lift your right leg and left arm off the floor. Reach back and hold onto your foot or ankle.
Press the floor away from you and keep your core engaged. Try to lengthen your spine and push your foot into your hand.
Hold for five deep breaths and then repeat on the second side.
This is one of the most popular hip opening stretches in yoga and by doing it with a bolster, you can fully relax into the stretch, making it feel very restorative.
Benefits of the pose: Helps to relieve fatigue & anxiety, opens the hips, grounds the mind & body, and good for healthy circulation.
Start by sitting on your bum with the soles of your feet together and your knees dropping out to the sides. Place your bolster or cushion length ways on your feet.
Inhale to elongate your spine and exhale to fold forward and rest your arms or forehead on the bolster or cushion.
Breathe deeply here allowing your upper body to feel heavy and soften down with each exhalation. As you do so, feel your hips opening a little more.
Hold for five deep breaths and then inhale to come back up to neutral.
More About Sarah:
Born in Hong Kong and based in London, Sarah Highfield is the founder of Yogagise Yoga. She has taught at prominent studios including Bodyism London & Yogabambam Hong Kong; she teaches on Yoga Teacher Trainings, as well as at high profile events including Om Yoga Show London and World Yoga Festival. Additionally, Sarah has led yoga retreats in Mykonos for Helios Retreats, alongside collaborations with London Fashion Week, Mortimer House & Catherine’s in Antigua.
She has featured on the cover of Om Yoga Magazine, was voted by London Evening Standard as one of London’s Top 10 Yoga Teachers to follow on Instagram, and has appeared in The Times, The Financial Times, Daily Mail, BBC News, Vanity Fair & Marie Claire UK magazine. Sarah believes there is a style of yoga for everyone and encourages students to discover what works for them.