MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS MONTH: YOGA FOR HOPE CHALLENGE

welcome.

Hope for the Day is embracing yoga to illustrate the connection between our physical health and our mental health

And we brought our friends Jenna, Woody, Joel and Jonny along for the challenge!

IT ONLY TAKES ONE is a campaign about how ONE person can start the conversation about suicide and mental health that will resonate with many.

How you start the conversation is up to you, but the truth is that if we make it easier for people to talk about – the easier it will be for people to ask for help.

click here to learn more about Hope for the Day

click here to share your story and support suicide prevention

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DAY 31 – CORPSE/SAVASANA

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Lie down, get comfy and relax. Let your mind go, breathe normal and let gravity work for you. Stay here for at least 2 minutes if you can. This is the time where your body recharges and receives all the benefits of your practice. Let go, relax, you did it!

…And yes, you are still doing yoga if you go to class and just lay there.

Benefits: Recharges and rejuvenates the body, Helps us let go and relax.

DAY 30 – HAPPY BABY

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Lift your legs up, bend your knees and reach for the outer edges of your feet. If grabbing the feet isn’t happening just chill with your legs lifted and keep the knees bent or see if the shins are available. Try to keep a flat spine by lowering the tailbone down to the ground and begin to rock side to side massaging the low back. For an added hip stretch, with both feet held, gently pull down, and hug your knees to the outside of your chest. Happy babies smile, so make sure you do to.

Benefits: Releases tension in low back, Lets go of unwanted stress, Opens the hips.

DAY 29 – Supine Twist

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Inhale and bend one knee into your chest. Give the knee a squeeze and pull it in towards your shoulder. Exhale and twist the knee across your body. You’re your shoulders connected to the ground. Keeping both shoulders on the ground is more important than how deep the twist is. Turn your head away from your knee. Once you’re done one side switch to the other; don’t forget to breathe.

Benefits: Aids the digestive system, Increases spine flexibility, Relaxes the mind

DAY 28 – PIGEON

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From three-legged dog, bend the lifted knee, shift weight forward and gently place the knee behind the same side wrist. Support your weight with your hands and listen to what your legs are telling you. Option to shimmy your shin towards the top of the mat for an added hip stretch but don’t feel like you have to. All you have to do is relax, square your hips forward if you can, and breathe. Extend your back leg behind you. Option to come down to your forearms or bring your forehead to the floor. If that’s not enough for you, bend your back knee and reach for the ankle, maybe you bring that foot into your elbow and interlace the fingers over head. Explore and have fun, wherever you’re at is right where you need to be. After you’ve taken a few breaths in your pigeon, gently come out and back into three-legged dog, shake it out, repeat on the other side.

If your knees are sensitive, you can take pigeon on your back by crossing one ankle over the opposite thigh. Reach through and grab your thigh or your shin. Gently pull in toward your chest but try to keep your hips down close to the floor. Observe how you feel on your inhale, relax on your exhale. Release, and switch sides.

Benefits: Releases tension in the hips and the thighs, Relaxes the mind and helps us deal with stress.

DAY 27 – SHOULDER STAND

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From bridge, bring your hands to the lower back/hip area, elbows hug in and connect to the ground for support. Walk the feet in a tiny bit and then lift one leg at a time. If that’s there, then maybe lift both legs into the air. Neck doesn’t move, gaze is straight up toward the toes to protect the neck. Feel free to use a blanket under your head, neck and shoulders for extra padding. Option to extend your knees towards your forehead for plow pose. Your body, your practice. Have fun and listen to your body.

Benefits: Revitalizes the body, Creates tranquility in the mind, Increases circulation, metabolism and posture.

DAY 26 – Reclined Bound Angle

27-1Reclined Bound Angle Pose

On your back, bring the soles of the feet together and open the knees out to the sides. Hands on the ground or bring one hand to your belly button and the other to your heart. Try to press your low back into the ground by tucking your tailbone up. Relax and breathe.

Benefits: Opens the hips, increases creativity, relaxes the mind.

DAY 25 – Bridge/Wheel

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Bridge: Lay down on your back, separate your feet hips width distance and bring the soles of your feet to the ground. Inhale, lift your hips, exhale, keep your hips lifted and relax your butt muscles. Keep your gaze up to protect ya neck! (don’t look side-to-side) Option to interlace your hands under your low back and pull your shoulder blades together. If you’re feeling adventurous, lift one leg into the air. Keep lifting the hips as you inhale, keep relaxing as you exhale. If you lifted a leg, switch. Then when you’re ready, lower down as slowly as you can.

Benefits: Opens the spine, Strengthens the core, Releases low back pain.

Wheel: Lay down on your back, soles of your feet on the ground hips width distance. Bring the palms to the outsides of the ears, elbows point up. Inhale to prepare and as you exhale push into the ground with your hands. Lift your hips up and relax your head, face and neck. Breathe. Option to try and straighten the arms and the legs if that feels ok. Really listen to yourself here; this is a very deep back bend, so be smart. When you’re done, slowly lower down one vertebra at a time.

Benefits: Spine flexibility, Increases energy, Stimulates the mind.

DAY 24 – TREE 

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From a standing position, shift weight to one foot. Lift the other foot and gently place it anywhere on the standing leg that is not your knee. (The ankle, the shin, the thigh or the hip.) Knees are awesome and delicate so no pressure allowed on them. Bring your hands to heart center, over your head or to any other position that feels comfy. Stare at one point, pull your belly in for added support and if you want to test your balance try closing your eyes. Switch sides and remember trees move in the breeze, so you can too.

Benefits: Grounds us down, Opens hips and increases both balance and concentration.

DAY 23 – DANCER

23-1Dancer Pose

From a standing position, shift weight into one foot and lift your opposite heel toward your butt. Reach back for the inside of the lifted ankle. Lift the opposite hand over head and then feel free to hang out here. If you want to take it deeper, breathe in and reach up a little higher then exhale and gently press your back foot into your hand. If you feel sturdy here, lean on forward. Use the pressing of the foot into your hand to help you balance. Look at one point in front of you and breathe. Experiment by bending your standing leg and see how that helps you balance. If you fall, just come back into it. Everyone’s dance moves look different, so have fun, strike a pose and then switch sides.

Benefits: Improves focus and determination, Increases concentration, Re-energizes the body and mind.

DAY 22 – EAGLE

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From chair pose, shift weight to one foot and lift the other off the ground. Cross the lifted knee over the other like you’re sitting cross-legged. Cross your arms at the elbows (if the right leg is over left leg then right arm is under left arm and vice-versa). Wrists cross if that feels ok or give yourself a hug. Lift the elbows and extend them in front of you while you pull shoulders down and back away from your ears. Sink your hips down. Pull your bellybutton in to engage your core and help you balance. Maybe your top toes wrap around the standing ankle or maybe they kick stand on the floor; experiment and explore. Try to keep a straight spine and stare at one point in front of you. Keep breathing and then switch sides.

Benefits: Relieves shoulder tension, Improves balance and concentration

DAY 21 – THREE LEGGED DOG

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From down dog, lift one foot up into the air. Keep weight in your hands and your neck relaxed. Try to keep the hips in line at first but then begin to move your back leg around and experiment with a bend in the standing leg. Notice how you feel. You are the boss, bound by no rules.

Benefits: Increases blood flow to the head for extra energy, Opens Hips, Strengthens Legs, Increases creative energy.

DAY 20 – FALLEN TRIANGLE

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From Wild Thing or Side Plank come into high plank, lift your hips slightly to create space underneath you and then bend one knee in towards your chest. Once your knee is towards the center of your chest, extend your foot across your body and shift your weight into one hand (same side as the bent leg). Reach your other hand up, lift your chest and your hips…pretend like you just slayed a guitar solo.

Benefits: Opens the sides of the body, Increases body awareness, improves concentration.

DAY 19 – WILD THING

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Here is how you Wild Thing: From plank, lift your top leg and gently place your toes behind your bottom leg. Continue to lift the hips up, extend your top hand overhead opening up through the chest. Look anywhere that feels good. Let your head and neck relax. Breathe easy.

Benefits: Enhances creativity, Boosts energy, Strengthens spine.

DAY 18 – SIDE PLANK

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Start in a high plank with your shoulders stacked over wrists; pull your belly in for core support. Push into the ground, lift your shoulders up and lean weight into one hand. Lift the opposite hand up, hips stay high and toes point out to the side. Option to keep your legs wide or you can stack the feet. You can also drop your bottom knee down with the toes to the side to help balance. Lift up with your hips, experiment with your gaze. Focusing on the ceiling will make this pose more intense, but always listen to your head and neck. Play around, be easy and have fun. Keep breathing.

Benefits: Core, Self-confidence, Arm strength

DAY 17 – LIZARD/LOW LUNGE

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Frame your front foot with both hands on floor. Lower your back knee down to the ground. Stay here if it’s enough of a stretch, option to lift the back knee and straighten your leg. If you want to go deeper, you can lower down to one or both elbows coming into Lizard pose. If the back knee is on the ground maybe you experiment by bending the knee and reaching back for the ankle. Don’t stress, the object of stretching is relaxing so just breathe into it and have fun right where you are. Inhales help us to observe areas of tension, exhales help us to relax and let it go…try it.

Benefits: Opens hips, Stretches thighs, Releases unknown tension

DAY 16 – CRESCENT LUNGE

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Lower the back leg soft and come onto the ball of your back foot. Stack your front knee over your front ankle and stack your shoulders above your hips. Lift the back knee a tiny bit. Option to experiment with a bend in the back leg and see how that feels. Pull your bellybutton in towards your spine and lift your hands over your head. The wider your feet are, the easier it is to balance; think train tracks, balancing on two is easier than balancing on one.

Benefits: Helps balance, Releases hips, builds leg strength.

DAY 15 – TWISTED HALF MOON

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From half moon, switch hands so your top hand comes to the floor and your bottom hand extends towards the sky creating a twist in the upper back. Listen to your body and take it easy. Breathe in and lengthen the top of your head forward; exhale as you deepen the twist. Gaze at one point, flex your back foot and lift up with your chest. Remember not to take yourself too serious and keep breathing.

Benefits: Increases Spine flexibility, Balance, Opens the Shoulders, Helps in taking life less serious.

DAY 14 – HALF MOON

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From triangle, bend your knees for support, walk the bottom hand forward and lift the back leg. Use a block for added support. Lift your chest and the shoulders up. Pull your bellybutton in towards your spine this will help you balance. Stack your hips, stack your shoulders (to the best of your ability) and take yourself lightly. Look at one point that feels comfy for your neck and flex your back toes for added support. Experiment with a bend in the standing leg. Always breathe.

Benefits: Improves balance, builds confidence, strengthens Legs

DAY 13 – TRIANGLE

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Scoot the back foot in a few inches and straighten both legs. Lean your torso forward and spread your arms wide like you’re about to give someone a massive hug. Option to rest your bottom hand on a block and bring the floor up to you. Lift with the shoulders and open the chest, imagine there is a wall behind you keeping your shoulders stacked. Gaze at one point that feels good for your head and neck. You’ll feel this a lot in your side body, so be easy on yourself and have fun. Option to always micro-bend your knees a bit or play around with your hands. It’s your body; you know how you feel. Don’t forget to breathe.

Benefits: Side stretch, Observing limited thinking and meeting it with calm breath, opens the hips.

DAY 12 – REVERSE WARRIOR

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From extended side angle maintain the ninety-degree bend in your front knee and lift your bottom hand to the sky, rest your back hand gently on the back leg or close to it; little to no weight in the hand because knees are special. Gaze up towards the ceiling if that’s ok on your neck. Breathe.

Benefits. Strengthens Legs, Opens Hips, Stretches the sides, Helps us be versatile.

DAY 11 – EXTENDED SIDE ANGLE

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Bend your front knee and stack it above or behind your front ankle. Back toes point outward just like warrior 2. Lean your shoulders forward; bring your bottom forearm down to your front thigh with little to no weight resting on it. Lift up with your shoulders and your chest. Bring your upper hand overhead and gaze anywhere that feels comfy for your neck. Try to open your chest up to the sky and pull the top hip back. For extra support, grab a block or a book and rest your bottom hand on it. Don’t forget to breathe.

Benefits: Strengthens side muscles, Opens hips and allows us to confront the “I Can’t” mentality with calm breathing.

DAY 10 – WARRIOR 2

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From Warrior 1…Open your back toes more to the side; allow your hips to open. Stack your front knee over your front ankle; open your arms wide, one hand in front one hand behind. Pull your bellybutton in towards your spine and relax your shoulders away from your ears. Gaze over front fingers; relax your face and experiment with a bend in the back knee. With the back knee bent we take stress out of the knee, which is important, if we have sensitive knees.  The hips will be mobile and free with a bend in the back knee, so experiment and see how you feel. Maybe pretend like someone was to try and push you over. Would you fall or would you flow with it? If you fall, that’s ok just get back up, but if you flow with it and find strength through relaxation it will reflect in our life and we will flow with and around obstacles instead of trying to go through them.

Benefits: Helps us take charge, Opens the hips, Grows our inner strength and self-confidence.

DAY 9 – WARRIOR 1

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Bend your front knee and stack it above or behind your front ankle. Square your hips forward, ground your back heel down and point your back toes out to the side slightly. Experiment with a bend in your back knee and see how you feel, the back leg is your support here; when we bend we take stress out of our knee and mobilize our hips so they can move easy. Lift your hands over your head; feel like a boss because you are one.

Benefits: Builds confidence, Increases inner power, Builds strength.

DAY 8 – AIRPLANE

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Shift weight to one foot and lift the other behind as you lean your chest forward. Bring your hands by your sides, palms face down and pull your shoulder blades back creating a slight ‘up dog’ in your chest. Pull your bellybutton in towards your spine to help balance and stare at one point on the floor. Experiment by bending the standing leg; see how that influences your balance, if you hit turbulence flow with it.

Benefits: Improves balance and leg strength, Releases tension in hamstrings, Strengthens core and Helps in dealing with obstacles on our path.

WEEK 1 FLOW/REVIEW

DAY 7 – CHAIR POSE

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Bring your feet together and sink your hips down. Bring most of your weight into your heels, let your hips drop a little lower and lift your hands up. This is a very active pose, so shaking is natural. Pull your bellybutton in towards your spine to protect your lower back. Lift your chest and relax your shoulders down. Focus on a fixed point in front of you to help balance. Keep breathing. Option to separate feet wider for added balance support.

Benefits: Strengthens concentration, Helps in becoming badass, Builds self-confidence and Improves leg strength.

DAY 6 – MOUNTAIN POSE 

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Stand tall. Separate feet hips width distance or bring the feet together to touch, hips stacked over heels, shoulders stacked over hips. Gaze forward. Option to close your eyes and test your balance. Hands down by your sides, palms face forward. See if you can stand a bit taller by lifting the crown of your head up. Bring your shoulder blades back and relax them away from your ears.

Benefits: Builds Confidence, Balance, Helps with posture and body awareness.

DAY 5 – RAG DOLL

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Separate your feet hips width distance, bend at the hips, and relax your shoulders down. Release your head, neck and face. Bend your knees a ton so your chest comes close to the thighs, maybe they touch. Option to keep hands down on the ground or interlace your elbows and rock side to side. For an added shoulder release, interlace your hands behind your back (or find a strap of some sort) and lift overhead while pulling the shoulders towards your hips.

Benefits: Relieves stress and upper back tension, Reduces anxiety, Calms the mind.

DAY 4 – UP DOG/BABY COBRA

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Push your hands into the ground, stack your shoulders above your wrists and bring your chest forward between your arms. Pull your shoulder blades down and back. Lift your thighs off the ground if that feels ok for your lower back. Option to always stay on the toes instead of the tops of the feet; this will take pressure off the lower back. If there is a lot of discomfort in the low back, lay down on your stomach; lift your shoulders, little to no weight in your hands, shoulders pull down and back. Gaze on the ground and you’re in baby cobra.

Benefits: Spine Flexibility, Energizes the mind, Helps relieve mild depression, Stretches the abs

DAY 3 – DOWN DOG 

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Spread your fingers wide, press into the knuckles of your hands and lift your hips. Relax your head, neck, and face. Maybe you rock your head side to side to release tension. Most dogs like moving around, so don’t think you have to be stationary the whole time. Bend one knee and then the other; let your hips shift around. Notice how you feel.

Benefits: Energy boost, Releases head and neck tension, Clears the mind.

DAY 2 – CHILD’S POSE

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Separate your knees wide, big toes touch and sink your hips toward your heels. If your hips don’t feel good here bring your knees closer together. If you want more of a hip stretch, separate your knees wider. Relax your forehead on the mat and extend your hands out in front of you. Relax. Take this pose when you want to regain control of the breath and tune in with yourself. This pose is always available. Yoga defined means “to yoke” or to “bring together” and this pose is a helps us to grow our body-mind-breath connection.

Benefits: Connects us to our breath, Helps release tension and be present.

DAY 1 – Seated Easy Pose

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Sit comfy with your legs crossed or extend them in front of you if that feels better for your knees. Create a long spine, relax your shoulders down your back and bring a slight smile to your face. Pay attention to your breath as it enters your nose and leaves your mouth. Intend to breathe, observe your breath and voila! You are meditating.

Meditation guide: Notice how it feels to be right where you are. Notice the feeling of your butt on the ground. Notice how air feels coming in through your nose and then out through your mouth. If your mind wanders just notice where it goes, smile and bring it back to the feeling of each inhale and each exhale. When we breathe intentionally, noticing how each breath feels, we are meditating. When we are meditating we are calming the limiting the thoughts our mind creates which hold us back. When we are meditating, we are listening to how we feel and when we listen to how we feel, we tap into our inner boss, the one that wants us to succeed, to be powerful, and to have everything we ever wanted.

Say to yourself, “I am not my thoughts, I am not my feelings and I am not my emotions. I am greater than those things. I am always right where I need to be. I observe my thoughts but they do not control me. I control my mind by focusing on my breath and I am in the process of becoming my most badass self. “

Benefits: Calms the mind, Improves Posture, Boosts confidence.