Mini Yoga Moments

yoga poses for waking up relaxation and abs south by northwest seattle blogger

It’s taken me a long time to come around to yoga. As someone who typically likes high energy workouts that leave you transformed into a sweaty ball of pain, it always seemed too slow, too boring. The Shavasana pose? Basically an excuse to publicly nap and call it exercise.
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When I moved to Seattle, my friend Rachel introduced me to her hot yoga studio and I discovered that yoga was not only relaxing, it was also re-energizing. I loved the feeling of the heat soaking into my skin and the burn from holding a position too long.
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Recently between work, making dinner, walking the dogs, and the rest of life’s minutia, I’ve been pretty bad about regularly attending class. However, I have found myself leaning on a few key poses throughout the day to help me better align my body with my mind.
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First Thing in the Morning
Waking up is hard for me! It’s usually about 30 minutes before you can even attempt to have a conversation with me. I’ve started doing a few minutes of the Cat/Cow poses first thing in the morning and it’s really helped me get my head in the game (of life). Here’s a short explanation of how to do the poses. I always exhale as I move from the cow position (concave back) to the cat position (arched back).
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cat cow

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Stress Relief

I carry a lot of my stress in my body, which is pretty common. My body actually gets stiff with tension. I used to just let the tension build and build, but yoga has helped me learn how to release it through breath and stretching. One of my favorite poses for a mini-moment of stress relief is Viparita Karani, or the Legs Up the Wall Pose. It’s a bit hard to use at work, but I often do it right when I get home for about five minutes. It feels great on the neck, back, and the back of your legs. Here’s a link to a quick explanation of the pose.
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Viparita Karani legs up against the wall yoga pose

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Before Going to Bed

At night, it can be hard to unwind. The blue light from staring at my phone messes with my body’s rhythms or I can’t stop thinking about a project that’s in the works. Child’s Pose helps relax my back and quiets my mind. The pose, illustrated below, is incredibly simple with a couple variations explained here. I’ve also started using the 4-7-8 mindfulness breathing technique, but I’ll save that for another time.
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child's pose yoga

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Tightening Up Those Abs
The season of swimsuits and crop tops is quickly approaching, which has most of us thinking about our abs. While I love soft and curvy look of a feminine body, I also think there’s nothing wrong with wanting to tighten things up a bit. Whatever makes you feel confident, go with it! My go to pose for working my abs is the Forearm Plank. It’s great because it works the full range of your abs in addition to several other muscle groups. Again, you can get the gist of the position from the illustration below, but just in case I’ve linked to a short video.
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forearm plank yoga pose

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Do you have any go-to stretches, moves, or mantras you lean on to keep you going? It’s always helpful to hear what others do to de-stress. My friend Erica just joined a meditation studio which she is loving. If you don’t have any strategies yet, I hope you enjoy incorporating some mini yoga moments into your day as much as I have.
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XOXO,
Jules
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Image sources: 1/2/3/4

Lovely Legs Pyramid Workout

We’ve entered the season of shorts and tiny sundresses, also known as the season of mandatory leg shaving (I miss you, pants!). Now that my legs are no longer in hiding, I’m a bit more motivated to make sure I feel good about showing them off. My current leg inspiration? Taylor Swift. I mean, seriously…
 
. Taylor Swift-20140616-17
 
Now, not all of us are blessed with Taylor’s genetics. Let’s get real, her legs are probably as long as most of my body. So instead of fantasizing about some sort of leg extension surgery, it’s better to focus on what’s within one’s control. My legs are naturally muscular, so during the summer I like to play this up a little more. For me, having lovely legs means having strong legs that look like they can kick some major butt.
 
. Lovely Legs Pyramid Workout (2)
 
Here’s a quick pyramid workout I’ve recently been busting out a few times a week. I love that I get more into it as the reps increase and then my heart rate starts to naturally calm down towards the end. . Do you show off your legs in summer, or are you more of a maxi skirt and tank top kind of girl? .

XOXO, Jules

 

Image source: 1

Work It, Girl!

Since Jules moved back to Seattle, she’s been regaling me with tales of yoga classes, jogs around the lake, and Pilates/barre/cardio what-have-you. It’s pretty impressive. I tell myself I’m too busy for such frivolous things as fitness, but really I’m just not a big fan of exercise. What’s to like? It’s sweaty and gross and your iPhone inevitably dies three tracks into your killer workout playlist. Why run in circles around the park when you could lie on a cozy beach blanket, luxuriating in the sunshine with a good book and a cup of fro-yo? (Or perhaps with a couple of trashy magazines and some white cheddar Cheez-Its? No judgment here.)

Sure, I hear endorphins are great (though I remain skeptical). And it wouldn’t be the worst thing to look hot in a swimsuit when summer rolls around. With that in mind, every so often I decide to get my act together. But I couldn’t possibly motivate myself to do so without some cute new workout gear. As Lorelai Gilmore says, “I’ll do just about anything if it means I can buy an outfit!”

 

Cute Workout Gear

 

one / two / three / four / five / six / seven / eight / nine / ten / eleven / twelve / thirteen

Whether you’re tackling a Zumba class or a job interview, the right outfit can definitely empower you. While searching for my own fitness inspiration, I was drawn to these bright, energizing colors and flowy, comfortable fabrics. (#13 pretty much sums up my feelings about exercise!)

Do you have a favorite workout? How about a favorite workout outfit?

♥ Mil

Spring Into Action!

This weekend we “sprang forward,’ although some of us probably had more spring in our step than others! I don’t know about you, but Monday morning I was dragging. And that’s why God created coffee and chai tea lattes!

Of course, the trade-off is finally having enough daylight to head out on an after work run. Or really to feel like doing anything after work that doesn’t involve crawling into bed.

As you may remember from my last workout post, I’m a big fan of getting my fitness on as efficiently as possible. With our surprisingly sunny weather here in Seattle, I’ve been hitting the pavement for some outside circuit workouts. I’m a big fan of circuits, as they let me get both my strength and cardio done at the same time and keep me engaged. Here’s a workout I used just yesterday. It’s pretty basic, but it will certainly get the job done!

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springintoactioncircuit2

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Happy running,
Jules

 

(photo source)

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