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Yoga poses can help you center your harried life, improve your mental well-being

When you feel stressed, it can be beneficial to ground and center your body physically so that mentally you feel more stable and relaxed.

Stress can come in all forms – you may feel mentally frazzled, or you may be rushing out the door and forget to grab your keys. Maybe you find yourself tripping or missing a step on the stairs, or rushing to get out of bed and twisting your ankle.

When you feel harried, it can be beneficial to ground and center your body physically so that mentally you feel more stable and relaxed.

As a certified yoga instructor, I encourage my clients to incorporate meditation and grounding yoga poses into their everyday workout routines and schedules.

We’ve got yoga poses today that will help you center your mind and body.

For these poses, breathe in slowly through the nose, and breathe out slowly through the nose. Fill your stomach up with air, and then feel the air rise up into your chest, and then slowly breathe out and release your chest and then your stomach.

Also, pick a gazing point to focus on to help with your balance in these poses. Look ahead of you a few feet either at eye level or tiled down slightly.

Tree Pose

Stephanie Mansour demonstrates a tree pose, which is part of her centering yoga workout.
Stephanie Mansour demonstrates a tree pose, which is part of her centering yoga workout.
Brian Ernst/Sun-Times

Start by propping your left foot up onto your inner right ankle like a kickstand.

Pop the left knee out to the side. This may be your Tree Pose!

But if you’re ready for more, you can place the left foot onto the right calf. Press the foot and leg into each other, and press down through the right foot that’s on the ground.

Place your clasped hands in “prayer position” at your chest, and relax your shoulders. Pull your navel in toward your spine.

If you want to move into the full expression of the pose, grab onto your left foot with your left hand and bring it up to your right inner thigh. Press the inner thigh into the left foot, and the foot into the inner thigh.

Return your hands to prayer position, and look at your gazing point in front of you. Hold this for 5 slow deep breaths in, and then release slowly.

Repeat on the other side.

Horse (or Goddess) Pose

Stephanie Mansour demonstrates a horse or goddess pose.
Stephanie Mansour demonstrates a horse or goddess pose.
Brian Ernst/Sun-Times

Spread your feet apart wider than your hips. Turn the toes out on a diagonal. Then, bring the arms up into a goal post position.

Bend the elbows and have the upper arms be parallel with the floor. Spread through the fingers wide.

Press down through the heels as you bend the knees and lower the upper legs down so that they’re also parallel with the floor. Pull your navel in toward your spine to keep your back straight. Hold this for three breaths.

Stephanie Mansour demonstrates a horse or goddess pose with an added reach, which is part of her centering yoga workout.
Stephanie Mansour demonstrates a horse or goddess pose with an added reach, which is part of her centering yoga workout.
Brian Ernst/Sun-Times

To add on, you can turn this into a moving meditation by inhaling to lower down into Horse, and exhaling to release up to the starting position.

You can repeat this moving meditation 10 times in and out of the pose. This will get your heart rate up too.

Stephanie Mansour wants you to ‘“step up” your fitness regimen. Mansour coaches private clients in weight loss, provides fitness/health/lifestyles advice on national TV shows, and offers her free 21 Day Challenge online. Check out her fitness tips every Sunday in the Well section of the Chicago Sun-Times. And visit her website at stepitupwithsteph.com.