Many of us spend 40+ hours a week in our dedicated profession. Often our careers can leave us with tired, achey muscles and they can make us stressed and exhausted. This blog series will focus on yoga poses designed for your specific profession to provide relief and help you to feel good during your day-to-day workload.
In honor of school starting in the next week or so, the first profession of focus is School Teachers! Teachers have a rough, busy job and it’s important for you to feel relaxed and in good health as you are shaping the minds of our future leaders. These 5 poses are put together on purpose to counteract the stress you put on your body and mind each day.
Pose 1: Garland Pose (Malasana)
This pose helps counteract the effects of standing for much of the day, by stretching and opening the hips. It also will help improve and correct poor posture by lengthening the spine. Additionally, Garland Pose will help strengthen the ankles, core muscles, shoulders and back helping to make it easier to stand on your feet all day as well as allow you to more easily move about a classroom.
Begin on your yoga mat standing in Mountain Pose. Step your feet apart, slightly wider than your hips. Exhale, bend your knees deeply to bring your hips down towards your heels. Separate your thighs wider than your torso, lean forward to bring your upper body between your thighs. Press your palms together at chest level and press your elbows against the inside of both knees to deepen the stretch in your hips. Keep a long spine and relax your shoulders, as you breathe deeply in and out of your nose. Remain in this pose for at least 30 seconds or as long as is comfortable.
Pose 2: Plank Pose (Phalakasana)
This pose is beneficial for everyone, but is especially beneficial for teachers as it will help strengthen your entire body. In particular it will strengthen the wrists, arms and chest. As a teacher you are often lifting your arms to write on a chalkboard or dry erase board. You also spend a lot of time writing, or typing on a computer making it necessary to have strong wrists and arms to put up with the work that you put these limbs through each day. This pose strengthens the core and legs which in turn will improve posture and help prevent back pain.
Begin on your hands and knees in Table Top pose with your wrists, elbows, and shoulders in one line. Step your feet back behind you to form a straight line from your heels to your heads. Lengthen down through the bottoms of your feet and look down or gaze out slightly in front of you. Hold for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Pose 3: Wide Legged Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This pose is great to open the hips in a gentle way and also relieve low back pain. By stretching the arms overhead you open up the shoulders and armpits. This pose is also great to relax the mind and help you relax from a long day. Take time to pause in this pose and focus on your breathing.
Begin in Table Top pose on your yoga mat. Bring your big toes together and spread your knees out to the sides of your mat. On your exhale sink your hips back towards your heels and relax your torso between your thighs. Stretch your arms out in front of you and bring the forehead to rest on the mat.
Pose 4: Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
This foundational yoga pose is full of SO many benefits that it is a must for anyone. For you teachers it will help energize your body and mind. It also tones the abdominals, builds bone density, eliminates stiffness in the joints, relieves back pain, improves circulation and strengthens the entire upper body. It’s going to stretch the legs and feet and also help reduce anxiety. As a teacher ALL of those benefits are going to help make your days easier and help you focus on what really matters… your students!
Beginning in Child’s Pose, keep your hands where they are and press deeply into the mat, sending your hips up and back and straightening the legs. You want to envision your body resembling an upside down letter V. The intention is to move the heels toward the mat, but they don’t have to get there. To prevent over-extending the muscles in the backs of the legs, add a slight micro-bend in the knees if you are feeling tight. Relax the neck muscles and gaze towards your thighs or navel. Hold the pose for as long as you can, working on maintaining proper posture for 1 minute.
Pose 5: Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
After a long day in the classroom, you deserve a break! And while this pose may look like you’re doing nothing but just hanging out, it has so many benefits that you won’t feel guilty just laying around at the end of the day. This is a gentle inversion and if you stand for several hours a day you definitely want to do this pose. By inverting the flow of the blood away from our legs for a change and bringing more blood flow to the low back, this pose really is beneficial if you are suffering from back pain, It also can reduce edema in the legs and feet but move any stuck or stagnant fluids that may build up. It will also relieve tired leg muscles and drain tension in the legs. This pose is calming for the body and mind and is especially beneficial to do right before bedtime.
Bring your yoga mat to the edge of an open wall. Sit next to the wall with your right hip as close to the wall as possible. Swing your legs up onto the wall and bring your shoulders and head lightly onto the floor. You may need to scoot your hips closer to the wall with the intention of bringing your hips and the backs of your legs flush with the wall. Flex your feet so that the soles of your feet point towards the ceiling. Let your hands rest by your sides or on your abdomen. Keep your chin tucked slightly to allow the back of your neck to remain long. Stay here for 10-15 minutes, breathing deeply and allowing your mind to relax. Use this breathing exercise to help soothe stress and anxiety.