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On January 31, 2015 GEMgirls were invited to Roots Yoga Studio for a complimentary yoga session. Roots Yoga instructor Charlene Yeh guided GEMgirls through a gentle beginner yoga class, which included interactive partner exercises and guided meditiation. This moment to relax and unwind could not have been offered at a better time. The girls had just completed a stressful exam period and were getting ready to plunge into a new semester.

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Our GEMgirls had an incredible time.

Here’s what they had to say …

“I’d never done yoga and had previously thought it was just stretching, but the instructor explained its not. It’s about understanding the way your body and mind moves”

“After doing yoga I felt relaxed, calm and happy. I walked away with so many different techniques and skills that could help me when I’m feeling stressed or unhappy”

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“I tried yoga for the first time at the Roots Yoga Studio last weekend and loved it! It was the perfect way to let loose and feel more comfortable in my own body.”

“My experience at Roots Yoga was uplifting. I enjoyed spending time with GEMgirls doing something new together”

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The GEM team would like to extend our sincere appreciation to Denyse Green of the Roots Yoga Studio for providing our girls with this opportunity.

Roots Yoga Studio is ecofriendly and offers a variety of classes seven days a week. The instructors are skilled in classical Hatha, Ashtanga/Vinyasa, Iyengar, Anusara, Kripalu, Keeds and Teen Yoga. Visit www.roots.com/yoga for more information. 

By: Natalie Anthony

Congratulations. Your exams are over! Hopefully you feel less tight and happier. To close things out for our 5-week yoga series, I’ve saved my favourite poses for last. Say “hi” to your hips!

Hips: Tight hips are very common from sitting. Too much tension in this area could even begin to affect your lower back.

  • Bend your right knee into your chest and flex your foot. Place the area just above your ankle on the very bottom of your left quadricep (above the knee). Keeping the right foot flexed, gently press down on the inside of your right thigh. The stretch should be on the outside of your right hip and upper thigh. Try the same pose on your left side.
  • Hug your right knee into your chest and hold the stretch. Do the same with the left knee. This pose can be done standing by using a ledge to deepen it.
  • While standing, find your balance. Cross your right knee over your left, and begin to bend the left knee. Try to keep your torso upright. This pose if known as ‘eagle legs.’ Consider adding your ‘eagle arms’ to deepen the pose (see shoulder section). Repeat on the left side.

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Tip: If the stretch feels good, add more pressure as you press on your inner thigh or hug your knee.

There you have it. These are some of my favourite poses to perform after sitting at my desk. All of these poses can be taken in stages and should be held for about five breaths (on each side). You may find that one side of the body doesn’t feel the same (or as good) as the other. That’s normal.

As a bonus, here is my last tip for releasing tension after studying for long hours at your desk. Get up and walk around! Walk down the block, meet a friend in the park, or take a stroll to the community centre. In my experience, movement and stretching are a great ways to de-stress your body and mind.

 

Natalie Anthony, Yoga Instructor B.A., Corp. Comm., RYT-200

As a former triathlete, turned corporate leader, turned yoga instructor, Natalie discovered yoga makes her strongest and happiest.A serious accident brought Natalie to yoga. A passion for making others happy keeps her on the mat. Natalie is an internationally certified and registered Vinyasa and Yin yoga instructor. She currently teaches customized group and private sessions at Balance Fitness and at various corporate offices in downtown Toronto. Natalie also combines her love of yoga with a passion for communications and is a regular contributor for Village Living magazine. 

 

 

 

By: Natalie Anthony

I hope the poses we’ve explored over the past few weeks have helped you. Feel free to do your favourites as much as you’d like. Up next? A part of the body that’s often overlooked – your wrists.

Wrists: Using a computer mouse, writing, and practicing yoga put strain on our wrists. Here are some easy ways to release fixation and tension in this joint.

  • Extend your right arm and make a stop sign with your hand. Bring your left palm over your right fingers and gently draw them back. You should feel the stretch in the bottom of your right wrist and forearm. Slowly release. Then, bend your right wrist so your fingers point to the floor. Gently press the left palm on the back of your right hand. Shake out your wrist after you hold each variation for a few breaths. Do the same stretches with your left wrist.
  • Circle your wrists slowly – in one direction and then the other. Try to circle the wrists the same number of times in each direction.
  • Clasp your thumb and index finger around your wrist joint (above the bone) and squeeze gently. You can also do slow pulses on the joint. Repeat this on the other wrist.

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Tip: I like to perform wrist exercises in the morning to wake up the joints, and in the evening after a day of typing and teaching yoga.

 

Natalie Anthony, Yoga Instructor B.A., Corp. Comm., RYT-200

As a former triathlete, turned corporate leader, turned yoga instructor, Natalie discovered yoga makes her strongest and happiest.A serious accident brought Natalie to yoga. A passion for making others happy keeps her on the mat. Natalie is an internationally certified and registered Vinyasa and Yin yoga instructor. She currently teaches customized group and private sessions at Balance Fitness and at various corporate offices in downtown Toronto. Natalie also combines her love of yoga with a passion for communications and is a regular contributor for Village Living magazine. 

 

By: Natalie Anthony

Happy Friday. You are two weeks away from freedom. Hang in there! Here are some great yoga poses to release tension in your back and spine.

Back and spine: Many of us sit far forward at a desk (I’m doing it now). This leaves little support for your back. Try these stretches to revive your back and spine.

  • Sitting or standing, place your left palm along your body. Raise your right arm high, and begin to arch over to the left. Lengthen your right side on your inhales and deepen the stretch on your exhales. To finish, slowly bring your spine back to neutral. Repeat this on the left.
  • Clasp your hands behind your back. Puff your chest forward and look up to the ceiling if it feels OK on your neck. To go deeper, begin curling forward. Then start raising your arms up towards your head. Curl back up slowly as you come out of this pose.
  • Raise both arms to the ceiling. Slowly twist to the right as your arms come down on either side of your torso. Lengthen on your inhales and twist a little deeper on your exhales. Slowly unwind and try the other side.
  • Bring your palms to the edge of your desk or a ledge. Walk back so your body is in an L shape. Begin to press your hips back to lengthen your entire spine. To get into your shoulders as well, melt your chest through your arms. Drop your head so the back of your neck is also long. To exit the pose, walk your feet towards the desk/ledge and slowly curl your spine up to stand.

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Tip: Doing any of these poses standing deepens the stretch.

 

Natalie Anthony, Yoga Instructor B.A., Corp. Comm., RYT-200

As a former triathlete, turned corporate leader, turned yoga instructor, Natalie discovered yoga makes her strongest and happiest.A serious accident brought Natalie to yoga. A passion for making others happy keeps her on the mat. Natalie is an internationally certified and registered Vinyasa and Yin yoga instructor. She currently teaches customized group and private sessions at Balance Fitness and at various corporate offices in downtown Toronto. Natalie also combines her love of yoga with a passion for communications and is a regular contributor for Village Living magazine. 

 

By: Natalie Anthony

It’s a new week, and you are still in exam study mode. Now that we’ve targeted the neck, let’s check in with our shoulders.

Shoulders: There are several great stretches to release tension in different parts of your shoulders.

  • Raise your right arm along your ear, then bend it behind your head. Use your left hand to press down on the right elbow – the hand might move farther down your spine. To go deeper, bend your left elbow behind your back and try to clasp your fingers. If you’re tight, pull on a strap or use your shirt to help bring your fingers closer together. Repeat with your left arm.
  • Extend your arms out to the side into a T shape. Draw the right arm across your body and hook the left elbow under it. Gradually pull the right arm towards you. For a deeper stretch, bend the right elbow and try to bring the palms of your hands to touch. This pose is known as ‘eagle arms.’ You can even curl in to feel a deeper stretch in the shoulder blades. Try this using your left arm as well.
  • Sitting down, place your elbows on the edge of your desk shoulder distance apart. Drop your chest through your elbows. Then try to touch your palms behind your head in prayer. Hold for a few breaths and feel free to close your eyes. Come out of this pose slowly.

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Tip: Every half hour of sitting at a desk, check your shoulders to make sure they haven’t crept up to the ears. If they have, bring them back down – release them by rolling them up and back down.

 

Natalie Anthony, Yoga Instructor B.A., Corp. Comm., RYT-200

As a former triathlete, turned corporate leader, turned yoga instructor, Natalie discovered yoga makes her strongest and happiest.A serious accident brought Natalie to yoga. A passion for making others happy keeps her on the mat. Natalie is an internationally certified and registered Vinyasa and Yin yoga instructor. She currently teaches customized group and private sessions at Balance Fitness and at various corporate offices in downtown Toronto. Natalie also combines her love of yoga with a passion for communications and is a regular contributor for Village Living magazine.