Bridal Ready Blog No 5 Calm & Serene

In this final part of my Bridal Ready series, I invite you to join me for some centering breath practices and gorgeous stretches designed to leave you calm and serene as you prepare for the big day. 

Whilst you will need a few props for this session, they can all easily be found at home. This session is one that you can repeat as often as you need to find a little peace and serenity when the planning and nerves become overwhelming.

Remember you can do this as a stand-alone session, or you can put the sessions together to really ramp up those results and start feeling amazing. 

You can also join me on Silver Linings @Home where I will guide you through the whole sequence in our specially created videos to support this blog series.

You will need:

  • A mat or two mats placed on top of each other if your lower back is sensitive
  • Either a yoga bolster or two large bath towels rolled up together 
  • One or two cushions or pillows
  • Calming music of your choice or work in silence if preferred

Seated Box Breath Sequence:

The Set-up:

Place your bolster of x2 rolled up towels in the center of your mat and place one or two pillows/cushions at one end.  

Place your tailbone at the very end of the bolster and then use your hands to support you as you slowly roll down, bone by bone, bringing yourself to lying down with the bolster between your shoulder blades and your head on the pillow.   Feet are a little wider than your hips and parallel. 

Seated Neck and Shoulder stretches:

Stay seated on your cushion or towel in a comfortable seated posture.   Keeping the spine tall and upright.

Neck Stretches:

Draw the right hand over the skull and rest it by your left ear and tilt the right ear towards your shoulder as though you were trying to get water out of your ear.   Try to sit tall and really extend the left hand towards the floor so that you feel a radiating stretch down the side of the neck and out to the tip of the shoulder. Stay in the stretch for a couple of breaths.

Slide the right hand round to the back of the skull and tilt the chin down towards your armpit.  The sensation of the stretch is now down the back of your neck to one side. Stay here for 3-4 breaths.

Repeat both stretches on the second side. 

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Shoulder Circles:

Stay in the seated posture and bring your hands to your shoulders.  Start to circle the elbows up back and around to ease any tension in the neck and shoulders.   Do x5 circles in each direction aiming for the largest range of motion available.

Top Tip: Don’t be worried if you hear some crunching. This will ease as you do more circles and start to lubricate the joint.

Seated Cat & Cow

My favourite!  Stay in your seated position and place the hands over the knee joint.

Exhale and curve the spine backwards taking the gaze to your abdominals really using the hands on the knees to support you.

Inhale and reverse the spinal curve, raise the gaze and chest on a high diagonal and press the palms against the knees to create a lever. 

Do a few rounds of this version and then make it a circular motion moving between the cat and cow positions in one direction.   This should feel really good for the lower back.   Try to keep the breath smooth and flowing and remember to reverse the direction of your circle so you do at least 4 in each direction.

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Hamstring Stretch:

Extend the legs either ¾ or fully depending on your flexibility.   Flex the feet strongly and draw the legs together energetically. Keeping the spine tall, inhale and raise the arms. On the exhalation, fold as far over the legs as possible resting the hands either side of the feet.   Then slowly roll up through the spine back to the seated position. 

Do 3-4 flowing stretches and hold the last fold over letting the head go heavy towards the shins with the option of holding on to the shins, ankles or feet depending again on your flexibility.   Take deep breaths into the back of the lungs opening up the space between the ribs and feeling a big stretch, not just for the hamstrings but for the whole back chain of the body.

Reverse Plank:

Keeping the legs long and hugging together, place the hands just behind you with the fingers facing forwards (if you have sensitive wrists then make a fist for support).  Lift the hips until you have a diagonal line from the toes to the crown of the head. 

Take a few breaths here, feeling the chest and front body opening.   If your neck is feeling good, you could extend the head backwards opening up the neck.   

This is a powerful opening for the heart and chest so aim to stay for a few breaths and then rest the seat back on the mat.   You have the option to repeat the reverse plank a few times.

Transition to lying down:

If you are still seated on a cushion, carefully remove it and set it to the side. Then, bend your knees and catch behind the knees and roll the spine down slowly towards the mat keeping the feet grounded.

Spinal Twists ‘The Crocodiles’

When I did yoga as a child with my dad, he would teach me the crocodiles because we thought the name was fun.  However, these spinal twists are so much more than a fun name.   They are brilliant for your spinal health as well as digestive organs and a healthy way to start and end your day. 

Set the feet as wide as your mat with the knees bent and your arms in a ‘T-shape’ in line with your shoulders.   Gently twist the knees to the right and turn your nose to the left on an exhale.   Stay in the twist for a few breaths then bring the knees and nose to the centre and twist in the opposite direction.    Do at least 4 sets (right and left) taking as much time in the twist as you need!

Top Tip: Think of your top hip (in the twist) pressing away from you so you elongate the side body.  This will increase the sensation of the twist and create length in the lower spine. 

To deepen the twist, cross the top leg over the bottom leg and then take the twist.  This will be a much deeper sensation through the lower back and a stretch for the glute.

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Shoulder Bridge

Bend the knees and walk your feet back till you can just brush your fingertips against your ankles if you reach past your hips.   If your knees are sensitive you can keep the feet further away. 

Keeping the feet parallel and hip-socket width apart, start to elevate the hips until you have a diagonal line from the knees down to the shoulders.   Keep your abdominals lightly engaged and slightly tilt your hips so you don’t crunch into your lower back.

For a deeper chest opening you can slide your hands under your torso and interlace the fingers.   Stay in the elevated posture for a few breaths and focus on opening the chest and front body.   

Release the hands and slowly lower down through the spine bone by bone.  Keep breathing fluidly as you do this….it should feel like ‘dessert for your spine’!

Chest Opening Sequence On the Yoga Bolster (rolled up towels):

The Set-up:

Place your bolster of x2 rolled up towels in the centre of your mat and place one or two pillows/cushions at one end.  

Place your tailbone at the very end of the bolster and then use your hands to support you as you slowly roll down, bone by bone, bringing yourself to lying down with the bolster between your shoulder blades and your head on the pillow.   Feet are a little wider than your hips and parallel. 

Arm circles

Make a circle with the arms with the hands just above the chest bone. Then open the arms to a wide T shape with the hands resting towards or perhaps touching the floor.  Move slowly from the circle (tree hug) to the wide position (T-shape) a few times then rest in the T-Shape for a couple of slow calming breaths feeling the chest widen.

Hug a tree:

Make a circle with the arms with the hands just above the chest bone. Then open the arms to a wide T shape with the hands resting towards or perhaps touching the floor.  Move slowly from the circle (tree hug) to the wide position (T-shape) a few times then rest in the T-Shape for a couple of slow calming breaths feeling the chest widen. 

Transition:

Use your hands to support you as you roll the spine back up to seated. 

Optional Repeat of the Box Breath:   Seated at the front of your bolster you can cross the legs and rest the hands into your lap or onto the knees.   Repeat the box breath sequence that we did at the beginning of the session.  You may notice that your breath has become smoother and that the mind has become a little quieter. 

I hope this session leaves you feeling calmer and more serene.  I urge you to return to the session or just elements of it like the bolster series as often as you need.   

It only remains to wish you the very best of luck and so much joy on your special day.   

I look forward to seeing you on the mat soon!

Chrissy 

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