Quantcast

Cultivate Inner Peace With These Simple Yoga Poses

The way you start your day can often dictate how the rest of it unfolds.

Wellness

I used to struggle to get out of bed every morning, and would often hit the snooze button to get a bit more sleep. I was trapped in that cycle for years, until someone recommended yoga to me. Since practicing it every morning, my life hasn't been the same.

The way you start your day can often dictate how the rest of it unfolds. Being a woman entrepreneur that manages a beauty company and being a professional dancer can be both mentally and physically challenging. Looking for a way to find balance, especially living in New York City, yoga seemed liked a perfect fit to complement my lifestyle.

The benefits of practicing yoga every morning over the last two years has helped me begin my day with a smile. It gives me a calmness of mind and, most importantly, it gives me a heart filled with gratitude as I face myself on the mat every morning before I start work. My yoga practice includes movements in static poses, as I love to infuse dance and yoga together, which benefits my practice in more ways than I can explain.

With that in mind, here are my top five yoga poses that get me going every morning.

1. Reach for the Sun (Standing Arm Reach)

One of the first things I do to get ready for yoga is to bask myself in the morning sunlight for my daily dose of Vitamin D. This helps set my mood for the day and keeps me alert. I also begin my practice by using some Radha Beauty Essential oils to set the atmosphere.

Standing up nice and tall, the Standing Arm Reach encourages you to stretch your hands all the way up. You're beginning your day with a power pose, keeping in mind your goals for the day. As you gradually soften your arms back, down, remember to exhale. Repeat this for 5-10 breaths. This is a great first move to open up the body and loosen you up to help you begin the day.

2. Working your way down to your toes (Forward Bend)

As a dancer and entrepreneur, I'm constantly on my feet. Especially living in New York City where walking is the norm, ensuring that my legs are fully stretched out is priority before I start my day.

The Standing Forward Bend is a great way to stretch out your hamstrings and lower back. Remember to exhale while folding up and over your legs. Bending your knees in this move can help ease up on the hamstrings and lower back. The dancer in me recommends swaying from side to side to soothing beats when your chest is towards your thighs. This eases up your body to create that space which will provide you with more energy for the day.

3. Plank while listening to your favorite song (Plank)

I used to have constant aches in my lower back after dance rehearsals until I started planking. Not only did planking help reduce my lower backaches, it also helped toned up my tummy. Try listening to your favorite song while planking as it helps make the process more enjoyable.

Planting your palms down and stepping back to a nice plank pose is a great way to energize the entire body. Maintaining a correct form while engaging your core muscles helps you to keep focus and get things going for the day. Repeat this for 5-10 breaths

4. Summoning the energy for the day (Upward Dog)

If coffee is your energy booster for the day, then Upward Dog is my equivalent of coffee. This is one of my favorite poses to get into as it stretches my upper torso while improving the strength and flexibility of my spine, arm and wrists at the same time. As they say in yoga, “You're only as young as your spine is flexible."

From plank position, as you start to ease your knees down and draw your shoulders down your back, you will get into an Upward Dog pose. Once again, swaying from side to side adds more fluidity to your routine. The whole idea is to keep everything moving and flowing freely so that you wont have to be stuck in a pose. This is another great way to open up the body especially after a good nights sleep.

5. The Downward Dog

The Downward Dog pose is one that I have to do before starting my day as it wakes you up by boosting blood circulation throughout the body. As with all yoga poses, being in control of your breathing is key as this teaches you to be in control of your emotions and feelings.

As you try to tuck your toes and raise your tailbone to the sky, you will transition into a Downward Dog pose. Drop the head down and push into the hands to create length in the spine, while at the same time pressing your heals to the ground. This is a great resting pose which helps open the back of your legs as well stretch out your calves. Swaying from side to side helps gives this stretch more emphasis on both legs. Repeat this for 5 – 10 breaths.

Bonus: Keeping it simple – Breathe

When things get too overwhelming unexpectedly, I always remind myself in those moments to breathe. This helps me refocus and reduce anxiety levels, and allow oxygen to flow through my body.

Practicing yoga in the mornings has helped me feel more energized and focused, thus allowing me to accomplish more during the day. I'll encourage those that want to get through the day caffeine free to start practicing yoga in the morning, as it gives you a new sense of a clarity and purpose as you start each day.

If you feel unmotivated at times, I highly encourage you to give these five poses a go even when you don't feel like it. I am certain you will walk away from your mat feeling rejuvenated and energized and ready to conquer your day. Try it out once or twice a week, and you will start to see some of the benefits that I have mentioned above.

I have no doubt that if you show up for your yoga practice as your messy, imperfect and beautiful self, you will find more reasons to add yoga to a part of your morning routine.

Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here to receive our latest articles and news straight to your inbox.

Featured image by Shutterstock; all other images courtesy of Rebekah Letch

Originally published December 13, 2017

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

Featured image by Shutterstock

Because I write so much about sex, there are never a lack of random questions that pop into my mind. One that I was wondering semi-recently is if there's a particular time of the day when men and women are hornier than others. Chile, when you decide to go digging for information, you'll be amazed what you'll find.

Keep reading... Show less
The daily empowerment fix you need.
Make things inbox official.

Growing up, Eunique Jones Gibson didn't have to look far for positive imagery that reflected who she was and where she came from. At a young age, Eunique's parents wasted no time instilling the importance of self-love and embracing the richness of Black culture. From her father's afrocentric, Cross Colours-based style to seeing herself through the lens of Lena James, Jada Pinkett's confident persona on A Different World, Eunique's surroundings began to paint a colorful portrait of the world's true representation could form. She points out, "That was my entryway into really embracing the culture and understanding the power of who we are and being critical of false narratives." It's no wonder that her work in representation through entertainment and media no less found her.

Keep reading... Show less

This article is in partnership with Staples.

As a Black woman slaying in business, you're more than likely focused on the bottom line: Serving your customers and making sure the bag doesn't stop coming in. Well, there's obviously more to running a business than just making boss moves, but as the CEO or founder, you might not have the time, energy, or resources to fill in the blanks.

Keep reading... Show less

Karrueche Tran, I like her. She minds her business, she makes smart business moves. She has integrity, and most importantly, she loves herself enough to leave situations that no longer serve her. Tran popped on the scene roughly a decade ago as the girlfriend of Chris Brown. They had a whirlwind romance, filled with just as many highs as lows. Eventually, Karrueche ended the relationship after she found out Brown had a daughter on the way, and she moved on to pursue her passions within the entertainment industry.

Keep reading... Show less

It's no secret that the pandemic hit all of us hard, and now that restrictions have been lifted, offices have reopened, and work seems to be getting to a new normal outside of quarantines and isolation, we all want to take our lives back. If you only learned one lesson in the past year, it's to look out for No.1, i.e. yourself, and practice a bit more balance in self-care.

Research has shown that many of us were overworked and pretty much burned out, and we missed out on vacations last year, too. The average work day extended at least an hour, and millions of vacation days wasted away.

Keep reading... Show less
Exclusive Interviews

'Insecure' Writer Mike Gauyo Talks His Journey From Med School To The Writers' Room

"Meeting Issa Rae was a story of perseverance, following up, being persistent and all of the characteristics and attributes you need to be a successful writer."

Latest Posts