Sunday, October 14, 2012

Yama 4 - Brahmacharya

Ah, Brahmacharya... where do I begin? Maybe not with the fact that traditionally Brahmacharya has been defined as "celibacy"? Damn, let that cat of the bag pretty fast... but don't run away Brogis! I can explain...

First of all, I'm not suggesting in any way that you need to give up sex or relationships to practice Brahmacharya. I know all of us Brogis are part of the modern Western world, and intimate relationships are one of the (most wonderful!) aspects of our lifestyle. So fear not! There are ways to apply this yama so you can get the full benefits of Brahmacharya, without throwing the baby out with the bath water... so to speak :)

Firstly, a reminder of what yamas are and are not, which I think is particularly helpful to remember with this one! They are not precepts from up above dictating what we should or should not do because it is "right" or "wrong" or will please/ offend some higher being. Like all yamas, Brahmachayra is not a "you should do 'x' or 'y' thing will happen to you" kind of deal, but rather a suggestion of how to live based on hundreds of years of observation of that which makes a happy and fulfilled life.

And who doesn't want one of those!

So, although traditionally defined as "celibacy", Brahmachayra has been given a more expansive definition in modern usage to be more in keeping with today's world - where most of us are modern "householders" involved in relationships and families (as opposed to living by ourselves meditating in cave) This definition refers more to introducing the concept of "moderation" into our lives, instead of complete withdrawal from the sensual realm. Yes, there is the option of following Brahmachayra to it's logical conclusion and never having sex again, which is a fine choice for those of us who would like to do that... but for those of us who would prefer not to (raises hand!) we can still practice a form of Brahmachayra which will still be of great benefit.


So how do we do this? How do we practice moderation to live lovely happy and fulfilled lives?

One of the main functions of Brahmachayra is to help us preserve and harness our energy towards that which is important. One thing we probably all know about sex - or even the idea of having sex - is that is is very very distracting! Who hasn't wasted energy fixating on some desirable seeming individual, that could probably be better spent somewhere else?

Erm... not me of course... I read about that in a book ;)

Anyway my point is that we need to begin noticing where we focus and use all our energy, and see if it is doing us good... or harm. We live in a very consumerist, capitalist society and are actually encouraged to do the opposite of Brahmachayra at every turn; spend, spend, spend, obsess, desire, want!

"Living in Brahmachayra means we have control over our impulses of excess, whether that's in shopping, food, sex, drugs, tv... anything. Whatever it is that we like to indulge in, lose ourselves in or obsess over... gone!" (The Yoga Lunchbox)

Personally I have a little saying I use to help me practice Brahmachayra and keep excess and obsession at bay (can you tell this is a big one for me!) Whenever I feel myself about to fall into habits that would take me away from the path of moderation I ask myself "What do I get in exchange?"

For eg.

Overeating sugary treats: in exchange for doing this I get increased health, more energy later, feeling better without sugar and other toxins in my body, nice un-zitty skin... etc etc

Buying that unneeded new pair of shoes, just because: in exchange I get more money to spend on cool things I really want, like holidays or a new guitar

Having that extra one (or five!) drink too many: not having a hangover, more time to do fun things the next day, less crankiness at work tomorrow, better health and more energy... on it goes

Obsessing over that hottie down the street: more energy to focus on other things, less giving a f...ig what anyone else thinks of me, less time doing my hair/ more time to write this blog... :)

Are you getting it now?!

"Wasting time and energy on excess of any kind takes us further away from our path and our goal" (The Yoga Lunchbox)


So think about areas in your life where you might place unnessecary energy, or indulge in habits that ultimately aren't doing any you any favours, and see if you can apply Brahmacharya to those. I think you will be excited by the results! But don't just believe me, listen to what Swami Sivananda has to say:

"The practice of Brahmachyra gives good health, inner strength, peace of mind and long life. It invigorates the mind and nerves. It helps to conserve physical and mental energy. It augments memory, will force and brain power. It bestows tremendous strength, vigour and vitality. Strength and fortitude are obtained"

To bring it back to our original topic (refresher: S.E.X) this article has some great points on what practicing Brahmacharya actually means...

"When it comes to chastity, celibacy is merely an option, not a decree. More important is the intent. A person can choose to be celibate, but if he or she continues to treat the opposite sex in a demoralising or disrespectful manner, then chastity is not being practiced. On the other hand, those who are faithful to one mate, who treat their significant other with kindness, who place love above lust in all their actions, can most likely be defined as chaste... It is a matter of attitude, reflection and behaviour"

"Treat your body and the bodies of those belonging to others... with reverence and respect. Acknowledge that sensual pleasures of all sorts... are earthly in nature and to be enjoyed in moderation... Be responsible and conscientious in your dealings with the opposite sex. Have one serving of ice-cream, don't eat the whole carton. Don't drink and drive, either. Practice Brahmacharya on this level and you will never have a stomachache from too much food, suffer a hangover or wake up in the morning next to an embarrassed stranger"

Amen to that Brogis! Brahmacharya doesn't sound so bad after all now does it?



You might also be interested in:
Yamas and Niyamas 
Yama 1 - Ahimsa 
Yama 2 - Satya 
Yama 3 - Asteya 

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Good night, sleep tight!

Here's a sleepy time yoga routine, again one you can do in your pajamas (I sense a theme developing... Yogjamas? Pajamoga? Hmmm, will workshop that)

The idea of this routine is to calm the mind and body after the day, and to prepare for sleep. You want to start leaving the stress of the world behind you and come into your own little sleepy-time world, so the first exercise I will get you to do is... TURN OFF YOUR MOBILE PHONE! Sorry, yelling when we are meant to be getting all calm. But seriously, do it! Just for ten mins :)

You can also change into your pjs, turn down the lights, put some nice relaxing music on. Light some candles if you really want to get this hippie party started. Do whatever you need to start coming into a peaceful and relaxed state ready to get your snooze on.

Reclining Spinal Twist

First of all, we'll get a twist going on, to release any tension out of the spine, and give our internal organs a nice pre-bedtime massage (and who doesn't like one of those?!)

Lying on your back, bring your left foot onto your right knee, and grab the left knee with your right hand (Confused yet? See below!)

Bring your left arm along the ground to make half a 'T' shape. Exhale, and drop the right knee down towards the floor, while gazing along back at your left hand.. creating a twist along the spine.

Keep your both shoulders grounded to the floor.

Hold for a few breaths, inhale and return to the middle. Switch sides.

Wind Relieving Pose

Even if you aren't particularly "windy" this is still a great pose to do in the evening. It aids digestion and relieves stress in the lower back. 

Lying on your back, inhale and pull your left knee into your chest. As pictured:

Then exhale and curl your shoulders off the ground, as if to touch your forehead to knee (not pictured). Gaze down your body to your belly button.

Hold for a few breaths, return the head to the floor on an inhale, and then lower leg. Repeat opposite side. 

Childs Pose

Ahhhhh, what could be more perfect for the end of the day! Begin by kneeling with your feet together, and sit back on your heels. On the exhale bring your torso onto your thighs, bringing your head to the floor, and resting your arms long by your side. Release all tension in the body... Surrrrreeeeeeender! *said in breathy hippy voice*

Release the front of the shoulders towards the floor, getting your shoulder blades nice and wide across your back. Relax here for 30 seconds, or longer if you like. When you are ready, inhale and lengthen the torso out of your hips, hinging up from your pelvis into a seated position.

Alternate Leg Pull

This is a fantastic introversion for the end of the day. As well as providing a powerful hamstring stretch and a release through the lower back, it offers a chance to really block out the rest of the world and come into your own space, leaving everything that happened in your day "out there". I love it :)

First of all, sit up with your spine long, legs wide out in a triangle, then bring the right foot up by the top of the left thigh. 

Take a nice deep breath, and inhale your arms above your head, twisting your torso so it is facing over the left leg. 

Exhale, hinging out from the hip to stretch and bring your torso onto your thighs, with your hand reaching down towards your shins or ankle. At this stage you may need to lift the knee up to enable your torso to rest along your leg. 

Try and get the bump of your knee to rest in the spot between your eyebrows, as this is an acupressure point which will help you sleep. Bonus!

Rest here for 30 seconds, using the inhale to stretch your spine longer out of your hips, and the exhale to come in deeper towards your knee, or to try and straighten your leg further along the floor if it's not there yet, pushing out through the heel. 

Try to really concentrate solely on the breath coming in and out of the body, let go of all thoughts of anything outside of what is happening in this moment in the pose. No mental shopping lists or ruminating on the day. This is your chance to leave all that behind you! 

Inhale back up to seating. Repeat other side.

Alternate Nostril Breathing

Now is a great time to do some yogic breathing, to clam yourself before sleep. An excellent breath to try when you want to calm your body and mind is Alternate Nostril Breathing. Once you get the hang of this (and it's not hard), it is a really useful way to slow your breath, settle the thoughts running through your head, and relax. You'll be nodding off in no time! 

Here is the video if you'd like to give it a try.

Legs up the Wall

Does what it says on the tin! Is a perfect pose to do when you are actually in bed, presuming your bed is against a wall. If you don't have time to do the rest of the routine then doing this restorative poses will have you dreaming of Ryan Gosling whatever you dream of in no time! 

To get into position, sit sideways to the wall with your knees pulled in to your chest and then turn yourself so your legs are up the wall. You want your butt as close to the wall, hence this way of getting into the pose. 

Once here, open the collarbones by bringing your shoulder-blades together slightly underneath your back and then make a slight double chin, to get your neck nice and long.

Have the feet as if you are standing on an imaginary floor, heels and toes even. 

Stay here for 1 - 5 minutes, then switch it up into the rest of these variations. 

"FAAAME!" DC wants to live foreeeever...

Splits - try and get your legs as far into a 'V" as possible. 

Diamond - make a diamond shape with your knees, pushing the knees back as close into the wall as possible. Push the soles of the feet into each other, and rotate your thighs outwards, to assist with bringing your knees closer to the wall and open through the hips. 

Bring the knees into your chest and hold. 


Are you still awake Brogis??! If you haven't already drifted off into an easy slumber, simply roll onto your side and zzzzzzzzz away... Sweet dreams!

For those that have trouble sleeping 'Click to Meditate' has a great "Sleep Well" guided meditation that is fantastic to listen to as you drift off to Gosling Land slumber. It is also super easy to upload and play on your phone in bed. I swear I've never heard the end because I'm always asleep by then. Hope it works just as well for you :)


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Good Day Sunshine!

I hate mornings! There, I said it. Yes I know it's not very yoga-y of me, but I am definitely not someone who could ever be described as "bouncing" out of bed. So I sympathise with you brogis who find it difficult to fit in a morning yoga routine.

But... how bout one you can do IN BED???

Now we are talking!

Here are six poses you can do in the comfort of your PJs... or whatever you wear to bed ;)


First let's do some yogic breathing to start the day off right. Get settled into Supta Baddha Konasana by bringing your feet together and legs into a diamond shape. Use your hands on the top of your thighs to externally rotate your thighs away from your torso, and spread the knees away from the hips. Spread your hips wide and release through your lower back, getting rid of any curving that may occur by tilting the pelvis.

If this causes any discomfort, place one of your handy pillows under each knee.

Once you are settled in, you can place one hand on your chest and one on your belly, to help focus on the breath coming in and out of the body, or have the arms at 45*. Remember - inhale as if filling a bucket, filling the bottom, middle then top lungs; and exhale as if squeezing toothpaste out of a tube - exhaling the air out of the bottom, middle then top lungs. Exhale more than you thought possible! We want to start getting the maximum amount of air into the lungs from each breath.

Do this for several minutes, then release from the pose. But maintain that lovely yogic breath going forward.


DC, The World's Happiest Baby

Exhale, and bring the legs into your chest - then on the inhale bring your hands to grip the outside edges of your feet.

Open your legs wider than your torso, and bring the knees up towards the armpits. Have your ankles directly over knees and press gently away, into your hands and push the heels to the ceiling, feet to the face.

Don't round the bottom of your back up - keep your butt down to ground your entire spine into the ground (/mattress!)

Bring your head into a slight double chin to stretch out the neck. Hold for up to a minute, rocking gently side-to-side (keeping the hips grounded) if you like. Long spines gang :)


Bring your legs back out long, and place a pillow under your hips. Inhale the knees into the chest, and then exhale them out straight (or as straight as you can get em!)

Press the heels up, and the feet toward the face to really activate your hamstrings. Stretch for a few breathes, then relax for a few seconds, then exhale back into it. This tricks the body into letting you go a little further into that hammy stretch.Try and get your legs as straight as you can. Make a slight double chin to help straighten your neck out nice and long.


This is a great one to start warming up the spine and getting the chest nice and open (something we don't do much in the course of our day if we are huddled over our computers and bikes/steering wheels!)

Come to an easy cross legged position and have the hands gripping the knees. On the inhale bring the shoulderblades together behind you at the back, opening out your collarbones and chest, and bring your head to gaze at the ceiling.

Then exhale all the air from the lungs with a nice forceful "HA" sound and round up through the shoulderblades bringing the gaze to look in at the belly. Get the feeling you are stretching the shoulderblades as far apart from each other as you can, up towards the ceiling.

Repeat with each inhale and exhale. Do about ten of these.


From this same seated position bring your arms to the front, spreading your shoulder blades wide across the back. Link the right elbow underneath the left arm and then bend your right elbow, getting the elbow of the left nestled into the crook of the right. Then bend the left elbow, bringing the palm of the left up to meet the right. 

DC, The Optical Illusion

You want to have the palms pressing into each other, then bring the elbows up and tilt the hands away from the face. However! Make sure in doing this you are not hunching your shoulders up around your neck!!! Consciously move your shoulders down your back at the same time as moving the elbows up. Feel the stretch! 

Hold for five or so nice yoga breaths then change arms.


Bring your left foot to beside your butt and cross the right leg over as per the picture above. Settle yourself so your hips are even, your sit bones are grounded into the floor and your torso is to the front. 

Inhale - lengthen the spine. Exhale - bring the back of the left elbow to rest on the right knee, and the right hand as far behind you as you can, resting somewhere by the left hip. 

Inhale - straighten the spine. Exhale - twist the lower ribs and chest through into a twist. 

Inhale - lengthen. Exhale - twist the chest and shoulders into the twist and bring your gaze to gaze over the left shoulder, in an attempt to see as far behind you as you can, or even to gaze back over the left shoulder to the front! Twist brogis, twist!

Stay for a few breaths using the inhale to lengthen the spine and the exhale to twist further. Then on an inhale return your gaze to the front, and exhale return the rest of your torso. Repeat on the other side. 



So we are all ready to start the day now... GO GET EM TIGERS!!!! If you want to do a bit of standing yoga to really get you in a good place and fire you up for the day, try Tadasana, followed by some Fierce pose variations

Up next will be a post to send you off to sleep at the end of the day. Broga sandwich!


Thursday, May 31, 2012

3 Steps to Pursuing Your Ideal Career

Omwords is the blog of a Brian, a graphic designer turned yogi. He and his wife quit their jobs, packed up their dogs, and moved from the city to a beautiful island home in Canada to, in his words, "wipe the slate clean and start writing the next chapter of our lives. The one in which we find our heroes living out their dreams of healthy living, creative expression without compromise, and unhindered personal growth."

(Does that sound like heaven to anyone else??!! My goodness. Also apparently they now live in a "little barn with a workshop, nestled in the giant cedars on 4 acres of untamed land" *SWOONS*)

Anyways, drooling over Brian's life choices and barn aside, there are lots of interesting and inspiring posts and links over on his blog so go have a look! One of the links I thought would be great to share with you was this article by Amber Rae of Fast Company on "3 Steps to Pursuing Your Ideal Career". A few Brogis have chatted about this with me, so I know it's an area some of us want to work on. Hope this inspires!


3 Steps to Pursuing Your Ideal Career

There's a gap between identifying what you naturally gravitate toward and gain energy from and how that translates into your full-time work.

The process of closing that gap includes gaining clarity, taking action on what matters, and leaning into the fears that hold us back.

It includes realizing that the greatest opportunity we have in life is the process of discovering what we love to do--and then dedicating our life accordingly.

When we close that gap, we live a life where Mondays are celebrated as much as Fridays and "someday" is today.

Here are three steps that will help you gain internal clarity so you can plan toward your ideal future.

1. Gain clarity around what to focus on. 

To gain clarity around how to spend your time in ways that energize you, so that you're as productive and happy as possible, Derek Sivers suggests asking yourself, "What do I hate NOT doing?" Meaning, what, if you don't do every day, makes you feel icky and off-track?

Whatever it is--be it writing, designing, learning to program, asking questions, running five miles, reading non-fiction business books, spending time with loved ones, or meditating--make a list of the top 5 or so activities that you love and must do every day to feel like your best self.

Now you know where to spend your time and energy.

2. Define the world you imagine.

Of all the people I've met who are living their ideal life, true success has less to do with measuring up to an objective standard and more to do with working toward a larger ideal and better world.

For a moment, forget about your family's image of you, your friends' perception of you, and what society at large seems to expect from you. You don't have to live how others expect you to and how you define your "real job" is up to you.

So take 10 minutes and think about the ideal world you imagine. For example, I (the author of this article) imagine a world in which our potential is not governed by what we’re told we can and cannot do, but rather by our highest intentions and inner gifts. By knowing the world I envision, I know why I wake up every morning, it guides how I make decisions, and who I spend my time with.

Now it's your turn. Write out the dream world you imagine, beginning with, "I imagine a world in which __________."

By painting this picture and defining your ideal, you'll create something bigger to work toward and you'll have a vision to share with others too.

As Simon Sinek says, no one cares what you do, they care why you do it.

3. Replace old thoughts with new ones.

We often carry around thinking patterns that no longer serve us or our dreams.

"Who am I to do that?"

"That's not realistic."

"I don't know how to do it."

Guess what? You're the same as everyone else who's made something big happen, it's only unrealistic until you try, and you will figure it out.

Write out a list of all the negative thoughts that are shaping your behaviors. Next to each thought, reframe it in a positive light. While the transformation may not happen immediately, our thoughts determine our attitude, our attitude determines our actions, and our actions determine our life. That's why being aware of what's holding us back is the first step toward change.

By doing these three exercises, you'll gain the internal clarity needed to make your dream world a reality and lean into fear, which we'll address next time. My aim is to provide you with the clarity and action steps to claim the life you're meant to live.

More from Amber Rae on this subject here


Hope that was helpful gang! I love "no one cares what you do, they care why you do it". Wise words! 

So... why do you do it brogis???! :)


Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Yama 3 - Asteya

The third yama in our series of Yamas and Niyamas is "Asteya", or non stealing. Again this has a pretty obvious meaning - not taking things which do not belong to us - but also deals with more intangible forms of stealing; jealousy, hoarding, cravings, cheating, dissatisfaction and coveting the belongings and lives of others. 

And again... it's not so easy now is it! :)

One of the main ways to practice Asteya, or to stave off "non asteya-ish" behaviour, is to practice acceptance and contentment with ourselves and our circumstances. We need to make a switch from our usual practice of thinking "if only I had that [possession, job, house, partner, body... whatever] I would be happy" to a feeling that in this moment we do in fact have everything we need.

Not to get to hippy on your ass but we need to cultivate a sense of abundance. And we need to do it now!

If we go through life with a perceived lack of abundance we will always be craving for more... no matter what we get! We might get that [possession, job, house, partner, body... insert that thing which you crave] but we will still not be happy and satisfied... and then we move onto the next item we "need" in order to be content, repeating the cycle over again and again. NEWSFLASH PEOPLE: There is no magical item that will finally make us "happy"!

Lest you think I'm preaching from above I am totally yelling this at myself too! This kind of thinking is insidious in our culture, because we have been taught from tv, from ads, from movies, maybe even from our friends and families, that this is the way things go. Check off certain things, buy certain other things and voila... happiness! Is it really true though Brogis??! What do we all think?

Now I am definitely not saying all cravings are bad and never, ever want for anything again! It's great to have ambition and dreams, to have goals for ourselves... and to buy a new pair of freaking awesome shoes once in a while. These things in themselves are not bad, it is the emphasis and expectations we put upon them. The switch lies in the words of my amazing teacher Sunny Richards-Glasser... "We can still have desires, but we are not attached to them giving us happiness" 

Can you see the difference, my Brogi friends?

We can have plans... but not attach ourselves to ONLY being happy if we achieve them. We can want nice things... but know that they are just that, not Magical Bringers of Happiness and Fulfillment. We can hope for a lovely relationship, but not feel like all our problems ever will be solved when we get one (as nice as that would be!) ETC! I could go on, but I feel like you are getting the idea gang... Don't think something outside of yourself will bring you happiness within. Because that comes from... well... within :)

So it's all very well me ranting on about how we won't get happiness from external objects and that we have everything we need in this moment... but how do we actually go about feeling that this is really true??! As I touched on at the start, one important method is to cultivate a sense of abundance (it's so important I bolded it twice, LISTEN UP BROGIS!!!) 

This means instead of comparing ourselves to others or focusing on what we don't have, we focus on what we do have. And be grateful! So you don't have such-and-such's amazing blah-blah... so what! What you do have is your own special quirks and talents, attributes and good points. Maybe you have a lovely family? A nice dog? An ace job? Maybe you have none of these but you can make the people around you laugh. I don't know... but you should find out! Start finding things you can be grateful for, however small. Be grateful you have internet access so you can read this blog... there that's the first one for you :)

I'm sure some of you are reading this and thinking "sure, it's easy for her to say that she doesn't have x-problem or have to worry about y"... and you are right. I don't know what cards fate dealt you in life. But I do know that I have had my fair share of problems and low days (weeks/ months) and that practicing this form of thinking helped me, so I would love for you to give it a try. It may seem Pollyanna-ish to "focus on the good things", but by doing so we move from habitual and negative craving and dissatisfaction into a place where we can be more content and appreciative of the positive things we do have. Even if at first it may feel like there are only a few. Appreciate the hell out of those suckers!

As you go about your business this week try developing this mentality of "non-wanting" and see how you go. If you feel jealous of others, try and foster those qualities you envy in them in yourself. If you drink a super yummy cup of coffee, get a nice text from a friend, or see a great movie... appreciate that. If you find yourself focussing on what you "lack", focus on what you know you do have. Try not to look outside of yourself for things or people or situations to bring you happiness, but rather try and cultivate a sense of that within, through gratitude and contentment for what you already have. 

And soon you will be practicing "Asteya" with the best of them! :)


Monday, May 14, 2012

Broga Studio!

Sneak peek of the Broga studio... See you on the mat :)


Monday, April 30, 2012


Love this!

Found this letter on Sadie Nardini's facebook page and I immediately thought I HAD to share it on the blog for those who find it hard to get their ass to yoga sometimes (eg. everyone! We all have those days I'm sure!) 

If a superstar yogi like Sadie can cop to finding it difficult to "drag" herself to yoga I feel a bit better about the days I would rather stay under the covers or in front of the TV. And also a bit more inspired to remember why it is always great to make sure I damn well do though :)


The following is a response I wrote today to a yogi/mom who, after having her daughter, has been trying to regain the drive to reclaim her yoga practice. She asked me how I stay motivated to keep doing mine. I thought the response might be useful in some way for you!:

Dear *****,

Guess what?

I'm very rarely motivated or in the mood to go to class. I'm busy, tired and a million and one things left to do when mat time rolls around. Yet I just do it, and then when I'm done, I reap all the benefits, and I am SO glad I got there.

If you wait to feel like doing yoga, you might be waiting a long time.

Start the practice of making your mat time non-negotiable, even with yourself, show up for yourself regularly, and teach your daughter from the beginning that it's important to dedicate to YOU time, therefore showing her that it's OK to make time for herself, instead of forgetting about her own health in favor of other people and responsibilities.

Create that balance in yourself, and become that amazing role model. And watch--when you get to your yoga consistently, it will become easier and easier to make it your lifestyle.


So great! One more time Brogis:

If you wait to feel like doing yoga, you might be waiting a long time.

Bromaste... and see you on the mat... whether you like it or not ;)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Case Study: Yoga for Anxiety

As mentioned in my earlier post, yoga is an excellent way to calm the body in a heightened state of anxiety and stress. A general yoga practice will help with this as it works to burn through the nervous energy created in this state; but there are also some specific exercises which can help to release the tension from existing in constant "fight-or-flight" mode, bringing your nervous system into a state of increased calmness and relaxation.

Recently I had the privilege of attending a workshop with Nadine Fawell, an amazing yogi who specialises in yoga for those suffering from anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. She took us through a few poses which are especially helpful in these states, which would be great to add to your routine if you need a little relief from anxiety and tension. She also recently wrote a great article on the Healing Power of Yoga here

Firstly though, it is useful to go over the role of the breath in calming anxiety; by slowing the breath we slow the heart rate, and "trick" the body into relaxing. As you do the below exercises make a conscious effort to slow your breath, some of them involve counting to ten on your exhale/ inhale - try and make the "ten" longer and longer as you go :)

Tadasana with arm raises

We all know trusty Tadasana or mountain pose. The idea of this pose is to ground ourselves and slow the breath; perfect for those suffering anxiety. By adding arm raises we can start to link the breath to movement and slow our movement down, which will also calm and relax us.

Take a deep inhale, then on the exhale begin raising your arms above your head as slowly as you can, to a very slow count of ten. Begin the breath first, then the movement. Pause at the top, gazing up between your hands with the palms facing inwards. Take a break from either inhaling or exhaling, but don't hold your breath - let the pause be natural and unforced. Bring the arms down on an inhale in a similar way - lead by breath, to the count of a slow ten. Repeat ten times.

Supta Baddha Konasana 

Lying on your back, bring your knees out in a diamond, with your feet together, the soles pressing into each other. Try and get your thighs closer to the ground by rotating your internal thigh muscles.


From this position, take a deep slow inhale, then on the exhale, start bringing your knees slowly in together to the count of ten.

Pretend someone is pushing on your knees to create a strong pressure to work against. Ideally by creating this pressure, you should start to get a "trembling" effect in your thighs. This is a good thing! It is releasing all the tension you are holding onto in your "fight or flight" state.

Pause at the top of the exercise/ exhale, then inhale to bring your knees back down. Repeat several times, more if you feel up to it.

Navasana (Boat Pose) 

This is another excellent "tremble" creator, and has been covered before, as it is an strong core exercise also. Click here to view instructions.

Warrior One

When you remain in a constant state of "fight or flight" your thigh muscles can become pretty strong (and tense) from being always at the ready for the "flight" part eg. running away! So let's use that strength, at the same time releasing some of the tension held in this area. One good pose for this is Warrior One.

Starting in Tadasana, take a large step back with your left foot. Turn the back (left) foot so it is at a 45* angle.

Have the front foot facing forward (90*) positioned so that if you a line it would dissect the back foot in the middle.

Check your hips are aligned to the front of the mat by placing your hands on them like guns - if the "guns" aren't pointing to the front, adjust the angle of your back foot (to say 60*) to make this happen.

Inhale - raise the arms above your head, palms pressed together, gazing up between them.

Switch on your core to stabilize your pelvis, and lengthen your spine towards the ceiling, as long as you can go! Don't overarch the back - keep the torso stacked above your hips.

Exhale - bend the front knee trying to bring it parallel to the floor, keeping the knee directly above the ankle.

Hold the pose - on the inhale lengthen the spine and expand and open the ribcage. On the exhale sink further into the pose.

Keep pushing your back hip forward and your front hip back. Don't sink into your feet, keep the arches lifted. Ground your back foot into the floor while at the same time feeling a lift running up your leg through the belly and chest, and up through the arms.

When you are ready to come out of the pose, inhale and straighten your legs, and exhale step the feet back together into Tadasana.

Repeat other side!

Tree Pose

Balancing poses are EXCELLENT for anxiety, as they take the focus from the mind and our thoughts and into the body. Tree pose is a great one for this as you really need to focus in order not to fall over! Let's get started...

Stand in Tadasana and shift your weight into the left foot, keeping the foot firm to the floor and making the leg stable and strong. Bend your right knee, reaching down with your right hand to grab your right ankle.

Draw your right foot up and place the sole against the inner left thigh. Press the right heel into the inner left groin, toes pointing toward the floor.
Make sure your hips are even (don't sink into the standing leg hip) and lengthen your spine toward the floor. Push the right foot sole firmly against the inner thigh, resisting with the left leg.
Find a (unmoving) point of focus ahead of you and focus your gaze unwaveringly upon it. Slow your breath.
Once you have established your balance bring your hands out to tree position, hold, then raise to above your head, hold, then finally bring down to prayer position on front of your heart. Try to stay in the pose for 30 seconds to a minute.
Slowing the breath, using the focal point and pressing into the thigh are all ways which will help you balance. If you wobble this is great as you are exercising all the right muscles, and if you fall... start again!
Release and repeat on the opposite leg.

If you have difficulty balancing place the foot down against your shin instead of your thigh. Choose either shin or thigh though - never use the knee. It can be damaged from the pressure on it in this pose. 
Savasana (Corpse Pose)

You will probably be feeling exhausted after all that trembling and pose holding, so a natural conclusion to this series is Savasana - or "corpse pose". As the name would suggest, yes you do get to lie there in a position akin to that of a corpse!

If that sounds relaxing to you, then you are not alone... many of my brogis list it as their favourite pose. It is usually done at the end of class, so it can be seen as a little bit of a reward after all the hard work you have done. Having said that - it is not an excuse to dose off! Although some think of it as the "nap" they get to have at the end of class, the idea is to still and quieten the body and mind, but not to completely drift off into slumber.

Lying on your back, gently shake out your legs and allow your feet to fall out sideways. 

Let your arms rest gently by your sides, apart from the body with the palms facing upwards.

Turn your head slightly from side to side to loosen out any tension, then settle it in the middle. Unclench your jaw, leaving your mouth slightly open, and feel your eyeballs rolling back into their sockets.

Feel your spine long along the mat, and your limbs stretched out long. Tilt your pelvis to straighten out any curvature in the lower spine, and sink your low back into the floor.

Let each part of your body sink into the floor, surrendering all tension becoming heavy.

Breathe deeply into the abdomen, and let the breath get slower and deeper. If your mind wanders return your thoughts to focusing on the breath, or try a guided meditation if you find it difficult to stop thoughts from entering your mind.

After five minutes, roll over to the right side of the body, then slowly push yourself up to seating cross-legged. Give yourself a few minutes to enjoy the relaxed feeling in your mind and body before returning to the "real" world :)


Hope you feel relaxed and anxiety free after these poses brogis, and are inspired to add these to your routine! I strongly believe any kind of yoga is a great help in this area... I'm sure those of you who have noticed the amazing feeling of peace and relaxation after a class will agree with me here.

And remember, keeping a focus on the breath and the mind still and focused on the moment during class (and life!) will act as a double boost to your practice, adding an extra level of anxiety busting goodness to every pose :)

And a wee bonus - Tara Stiles has a yoga routine for anxiety here if you want a video to practice along to at home.


PS. Thanks again to Nadine Fawell for letting me pass on these poses to you! If you want to know more about her healing based practices she has a blog here, a free downloadable relaxation meditation here and is contactable for classes here!

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor! These are suggested exercises, not solutions for medical issues. Please consult a doctor or trained professional if you have severe or re-occuring anxiety. Here is some info from SANE Australia on Anxiety Disorders which might be a good place to start. Stay safe brogis :)