Noel Schroeder, a Boston-area yoga teacher and co-creator of the DVD "Notice Your Experience," designed the following pose-a-day yoga plan as a powerful antidote to life's daily stressors. Use it to ease into your day or to undo tension in the evening -- or both.
Monday: Take a Deep Breath
One minute, you're enjoying your Sunday coffee, lounging on the sofa. The next, it's Monday morning and your alarm's going off. The weekend has come to a screeching halt, but the transition doesn't have to feel like whiplash. This posture helps you greet your week head on, with a clearer, calmer perspective.
What It Does: Stretches the belly and aids digestion; restores the curve in the lower back; helps protect the spine from long hours of sitting
How to Do It: Lie on your stomach with your legs and feet relaxed. Then, reaching your arms forward along the floor, straighten them just enough to lift your torso into a gentle backbend. Do not strain or force; this should be a very passive and subtle stretch. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths, then release. Repeat for 1 to 5 minutes.
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Tuesday: Think Clearly
You can feel the stress mounting. Remember to take things slowly and stay loose as you find your rhythm. Use this gentle stretch to help undo back and leg tension and keep you grounded and steady.
Supported Seated Forward Bend
What It Does: Stretches hamstrings and inner thighs; releases tension along the spine; quiets the mind and promotes focus; stimulates the sixth chakra, which activates intuition and wisdom.
How to Do It: Sit on a cushion on the floor with your legs extended on either side of a chair. Fold forward at the hips and rest your forehead and arms on the seat of the chair. Take deep, slow breaths through your nose and hold for 3 to 5 minutes.
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Wednesday: Get Grounded
If a midweek slump has left you out of steam, get back on track by carving out a moment of calm. This easy reclining pose does just that, with an ultra-relaxing stretch that helps you get out of your head.
What It Does: Releases tight hips, stretching the groin muscles; connects you to the grounding energy of the root chakra, located at the base of your spine.
How to Do It: Lie on your back with the bottoms of your feet touching and knees splayed to the sides, resting on pillows or rolled blankets. Feel your spine on the floor.
Place your palms on your belly or rest your arms out to the sides, palms up. Let your belly slowly rise and fall with each breath. Remain here for 3 to 5 minutes, or however long you like.
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Thursday: Clear Out the Gunk
What if I don't get this done in time? Why hasn't she called? Worries have been accumulating -- and they're cluttering your head. Left unchecked, even the tiniest stressors will inhibit your best ideas from coming through.
Treat yourself to a few moments of stillness with this pose, and watch your inspiration re-emerge.
What It Does: Opens the hips and groin; lets go of stress and pent-up emotions; quiets the mind; promotes emotional release
How to Do It: Sitting cross-legged on the floor, swing your left leg around, extending it straight out behind you, with tops of the feet and toes against the floor. Fold forward at the hips. For added support, put a folded blanket or pillow under the right hip. Rest your forehead on a cushion or blanket and relax into the pose for 2 to 5 minutes. Repeat with the other leg.
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Friday: Soothe Frazzled Nerves
As another hectic workweek slows to a close, it's time to downshift -- and ramp up your self-care. Friday's pose quiets your mind and nervous system, restoring your inner resources so that you can fully enjoy the weekend ahead.
Supported Child's Pose
What It Does: Releases the muscles in the back; gently opens the hips; boosts your energy.
How to Do It: Sit back on your heels with your legs folded under you and the tops of your feet on the floor. Open the knees wide and bend forward at the hips. Rest your forehead (or your chest) on a pillow or blanket and keep your arms slightly bent. If your buttocks don't reach your heels, place a blanket under your thighs. Relax and breathe deeply for 3 to 5 minutes.
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