Bend, So CON Doesn’t Break You!
Conventions are exhausting, and they can be rough on your body. There is so much standing and walking and sitting, and let’s not forget schlepping. By the end of the day, most of us are feeling pretty swollen and achey. I’ve talked about some general health tips for cons before, but this time I’ll go into more depth and discuss some simple yoga poses you can do to prep for the day, relieve some minor discomfort during the day, and to decompress when your con day is done. Remember that there is no wrong way to move your body, nor is there a right way. If a pose doesn’t feel good in your body, then don’t do it. These are just a few suggestions to try—see if they work for you. Not every pose will feel good in every person’s body, so take what works for you and leave the rest. Poses for Starting the Day Mountain and Upward Salute Start by standing with your feet a comfortable distance apart and your hands at your sides—this is Mountain Pose. You can stand in this pose for as long as it suits you. When you’re ready to move into Upward Salute, sweep your arms up over your head with hands facing toward one another if that is comfortable. Your gaze can be forward or up toward your hands. Relax your shoulders; they tend to want to hunch up towards your ears. To come out of the pose, return to Mountain—you can even join your hands over your head and bring them down through a “prayer” position to get there. You can then repeat as many times as suits you. If you have neck or shoulder injuries, Upward Salute might be not be for you. Standing Forward Bend You can move straight into a forward fold from your upward salute by folding your upper body forward and bringing your hands down towards a prop, such as a chair, or the floor. You can also move into a Forward Fold from Mountain pose. Feel free to bend your knees as much as feels good for you. Be mindful not to hyperextend your knee joints—if you feel a lot of stretch right behind your knees, rather than in the meatier muscles, put more bend into your knees (they will thank you). If you have a back injury, this pose might not be for you. Once you find a comfortable position in your Forward Bend, you might feel that you want to move your upper body for further stretch. If so, you can try walking your hands over to one side of the body or planting one palm and raising the other for a twist, shown below. Another possible variation is to grab each arm with the opposite hand and gently rock your upper body back and forth and/or shake your head yes and no in Rag Doll pose. Poses for during the Day Wide Leg Forward Bend Take a wide stance and point your feet forward, so that they are parallel or slightly pigeon-toed, arms out to a T. Fold your upper body forward and rest your hands on a prop, such as a chair, or if your hands reach the floor, you can place them there. Try to keep your weight distributed evenly between your feet. As with the Forward Bend, if you notice strain behind your knees, put a tiny bend in them. Another great option is to do this pose with your booty against the wall—it adds some additional support, and it has the added benefit of feeling a little less weird than having your booty in the air if you’re in a crowd of people. To come out of the pose, lift up halfway, bring your hands to your hips, and lift up the rest of the way. Go slowly. If you’ve been upside down for awhile, you can get a head rush, especially if you have low blood pressure. This pose is great for leg fatigue and mild back discomfort. It can also aid in general emotional fatigue. If you suffer from a back injury, this pose might not be for you. Low Lunge/High Lunge Start in tabletop pose—on your hands and knees with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees, gazing down. You’re trying to stack your joints like Legos for stability. A nice option is to have your hands on blocks, or something similar you have handy, to give them some lift. Bring your right foot forward between your hands; your hands can stay down, come to your thigh, or reach overhead. To come out of the pose, bring your hands back down to your props or the floor and return to tabletop. Switch sides and do the movement with the other leg. If this bothers your knees, try placing something under them, such as a folded blanket or something else soft that you have around. If you find that this is still uncomfortable, or if you want an additional challenge in this pose, you can move into a High Lunge. From your Low Lunge, rise up onto the ball of your back foot. If it’s difficult to balance here, place one hand on a wall or chair for stability. Other Poses The above are just a few suggestions—there are so many things that you can do throughout your convention day to help your body. Maybe when you’re sitting, take a moment to do some twists in your chair: Or you can fold forward while sitting down: You can also give your arms and shoulders a nice stretch by giving yourself a hug—a variation on the arms for Eagle pose: Sure, people might stare, but it’s just a chance to start a conversation about geek wellness. And if I catch you in the act of mindfully moving your body, I might just give you a surprise! Poses for the End of the Day Tabletop and Child’s Pose Start in tabletop pose, on hands and knees with your shoulders over your wrists and your hips over your knees; stack those joints like Legos. You might find that you want to stay right here. If you choose to move to Child’s Pose for more stretching, bring your big toes to touch each other and allow your knees to splay outward. Move your booty towards your heels and your forehead towards the floor; if your head doesn’t touch the floor, rest it on a prop such as a pillow. Your arms can be outstretched or folded under your head. Another great option is to hug a bolster (or blanket or pillow) underneath your body. The supported option is great for after cons, so that you can really relax. If using support, allow your head and neck to do what’s comfortable and make sure that you can breathe comfortably. This pose stretches your hips, thighs, and ankles and can release tension in your neck and back. It’s also great for relieving stress and calming your mind. After being around so many people, it can be nice to just be small. To come out of this pose, return to tabletop and remove any props you have underneath you. If you have knee injury or discomfort, this pose might not be for you. Legs up the Wall This is just what it sounds like: you are going to literally put your legs up a wall. Sit on the floor next to a wall and get into a position so that you are lying on your back with your legs up the wall. Some people like to start with their side touching the wall and then swivel up; some like to start on their backs, scoot their booties towards the wall, and then bring their legs up. Play around and see what works for you. If you'd like, you can place a bolster (or pillow or blanket) under your lower back for a little support. Legs up the Wall is a passive pose, so once you’re in, you can just chill. Rest here for as long as it works for you. This pose is great for relieving the discomfort that comes with a lot of walking and standing, and it’s very calming as well. Some yogis say that Legs up the Wall can cure anything that ails you. I’m not sure about that, but it’s been great for me when I’ve had swollen ankles or a headache! Poses for Anytime Cow Starting in Tabletop position, drop your belly and lift your chest. You can imagine that, just like a cow, you have udders on your belly that are weighing downward. Keep your gaze forward if that’s comfortable. To come out of this pose, simply return to tabletop position. Cat From Tabletop Pose, round your spine like a freaked-out Halloween cat. Both Cat and Cow are great for backs, and you can also move your spine in this same way while sitting in a chair! A fun practice is to move from Cow to Cat and back again several times, moving slowly. Maybe finish with a Child’s Pose. Look! You’re making up your own yoga sequences already. Have a safe and bendy con! Just like your schedule, keep your body flexible. These tips are informational only and are not meant to replace the advice of your healthcare provider.
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