My loves! It’s International Yoga Day! My mom also just texted me to let me know that it’s “National Selfie Day” as well, and when I told her it’s International Yoga Day too, she said: “In other words… Jordan Day!”
LOL. Selfies & yoga all day long baby. Selfies while doing yoga. Selfie yoga videos for an added bonus.
But International Yoga Day is a little more than just an Instagram holiday. In 2014, the Indian Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi dubbed June 21st International Yoga Day after stating that yoga is an invaluable gift of India’s ancient tradition.
Since yoga is a huge part of my life, and by February I will be 500-hr certified (ah!!!), I figured today was the best day possible to share a few of my favorite poses with you guys.
I shot these photos with Chelsea, one of my photographers, on a gloomy afternoon in the Palisades. The beach was freezing, my clothes were wet with sand, and the shots have that eerily beautiful quality that only cold, overcast days can offer.
I kinda love them. They make me feel happy. And I hope they make YOU feel happy.
4 Yoga Poses that Make My World Go Round //
Urdhva Mukha Svanasana, a.k.a Upward Facing Dog
I love this pose for so many reasons. First, it’s a nice, restorative backbend that strengthens your arm, vertebrae and wrists. It’s a great stretch for your shoulders, abdomen, upper back and even your lungs. This is one of my go-to poses before or after I travel (have you seen my airport yoga Instagram videos? They’re my favorite), because it is such an amazing release on those muscles that get so tight sitting on a plane.
To get into Upward Facing Dog, lie on your stomach with your legs straight back and the tops of your feet pressed into the floor. Stack your hands under your shoulders, and on an inhale push your palms firmly into the floor. As you straighten your arms, lift your torso up and your legs a few inches off the floor. Keep your thighs firm and turned slightly inward, as your firm through your shoulder blades, lift through your sternum, and breathe. Hold for about 10 deep breaths or as long as it feels good.
Utkatasana, a.k.a Chair Pose
Ohhhhh, chair pose. This wasn’t always one of my favorites. In fact, for many years, it was my least favorite pose. My VERY least favorite. Chair is an incredible strengthener for the ankles, thighs, calves and spine, and it’s also a great stretch for your shoulders and chest. This pose takes strength, core, and a bit of balance. I think I used to hate it because it was hard on my lower back before my legs got stronger. Now I love it, and I sink into this pose with (more) ease — it also feels great to TWIST in chair!
To get into chair, stand tall with your feet hip distance apart. Lift your arms high above your head, palms facing one another. On an exhale, bend your knees and sink into your hips. To keep from bowing into your back, tuck your lower back in and firm your shoulder blades down your upper back. Breathe, and stay for about 10 breaths or until it doesn’t feel good anymore. To counter the pose, fold forward and clasp your arms at the elbows — it feels amazing after this deep pose!
Utthita Trikonasana, a.k.a Triangle Pose
THIS is my #1 favorite pose, which you may know if you’ve watched my favorite pose video on YouTube with Calvin and Sophie. Triangle is an incredible release along the chest, upper back and shoulder blades. It is also a great stretch for your thighs and hips. I love Triangle the most for the hip benefits, actually, because every time I get into the pose I feel my hips opening up (and I hear them… I’m a crack-er), and it feels AMAZING.
I love Triangle. I also get adjusted in Triangle all the time because I am a hyper-extender (just ask Calvin), so I know I still have a long way to go until I’ve mastered this pose. For now, I love the benefits it gives me and I am going to keep on micro-bending my knee to stay out of trouble!
To get into triangle, stand tall with your feet about 4 feet apart from each other. Rise your arms into a T-shape parallel with the floor and reach them out to the sides with your palms facing down. Turn your left foot in slightly and your right foot our to a 90 degree angle. As you firm your thighs and turn your right thigh outward, lean forward and pull with your right arm and torso until you’ve gone as far as you can, and then bring your right arm down to the inside of your right leg. You can rest your hand on your shin, ankle, or the floor inside or outside of your leg. Breathe, and enjoy the stretch! I also like the stretch/roll out my neck in this pose because it allows me to get super deep.
Urdhva Dhanurasana, a.k.a Wheel Pose
Ahhh, wheel pose. If you’re a gymnast, you’re probably used to calling this Bridge Pose. But in yoga, Bridge is different from Wheel in that the shoulders, neck and head stay on the floor. You can practice Bridge until you are comfortable trying Wheel. But if you’d like to go up into the full posture, I will tell ya how!
Firstly, Wheel feels freaking awesome. It is the ultimate heart opener. And you know how I feel about heart openers (ahem… Triangle). To get into Wheel, lie on your back on the floor with your knees hip distance apart. Bring your hands to the outside of your ears, and press your palms firmly into the ground with your fingers pointing toward your shoulders.
Make sure your hands are shoulder distance apart. Press your feet actively into the floor, exhale, push your tailbone up toward the sky, and lift your butt off the ground. On your next inhale, lift your head off the floor and straighten your arms. Turn the upper arms outward but keep the weight on the bases of the index fingers. It’s an intense pose, so allow yourself to feel that. I usually like to stay up for 5-10 breaths, and come up about 3-5 times in a row. Heart OPENER, baby.
There you have it — 4 of my favorite, simple poses. I didn’t get too fancy on you today because I think there is something to be said for restorative, gentle flows and working on true alignment in each pose.
I was tempted to add like 10832938 poses into this post, because I do have a ton of poses I love and would love to share with you guys. But that’s why this post is the first of many of its kind. Do you like it?! Do you want more like this / maybe some video tutorials?
Yoga is a beautiful practice, and it’s something that anyone and everyone can get into. You don’t have to be physically fit. You don’t have to be flexible. You don’t have to be young. You don’t have to be injury-free. You don’t have to be a Buddhist monk.
You can be YOU, whatever that looks like.
My goal & dream is to help and inspire as many people out there to try yoga as possible. Ultimately, I’d love to get my dad into yoga again to help with his arthritis, back and knee problems. If I can get HIM back into it, then anyone can do it!
Next time… One-legged wheel, Tadasana, Dancer Pose, and a fancy shmancy backbend with my feet on a lifeguard tower! Oh yeah!
XOXO, & Happy International Yoga Day!