With the steady rhythm of honking taxi cabs, chasing subways, weaving in and out of tourists, walking up and down that third floor walkup, running to and from meetings, stress seems inevitable. During the storm of the day, trying to fight for even 30 minutes to work out can seem daunting.

In New York City (or any urban environment) there’s a constant pull that beckons us to run rampant every hour of the day. Is it possible to stay grounded living here, through it all?

We’ve discovered a way to not only stay grounded in the chaos, but to thrive in the midst of it: Friendship and yoga.

Thankfully, a year ago we met and instantly became best friends. How we, Tutti and Kat, managed in life without each other is beyond us, but nonetheless we found each other. Isn’t that the truth of any good friendship?

Both lifelong athletes through different paths, we each also found yoga. Yoga calls for a rejection of comparison, competition and charges us to be present, listening to and honoring our body where it’s at today. It can be hard to go on social media and see yogis who can bend and do crazy poses; we can feel overwhelmed and throw in the towel before even showing up.

The cool thing about yoga is that there’s something in it for everyone. No matter what poses we can or can’t do, we always come together and start from the same place – our breath.

The reality is, however, that most of those people have been practicing for years, decades even. The cool thing about yoga is that there’s something in it for everyone. No matter what poses we can or can’t do, we always come together and start from the same place – our breath. How freeing is that?  And what an interesting concept to take off the mat and implement into everyday life, right?

The beautiful thing about yoga is that you can do it anywhere. All you need is your mat, in our case a friend too, and your breath.

In yoga the entire practice is built from a place of conscious breathing. But, as poses get more difficult and as our lives feel more hectic, the choice to focus on sitting down and breathing can feel near impossible. This is why moving through poses tremendously aids in finding a quiet place within where it’s easier to reground, let go, and once again, breath.

Below is a quick 15 minute stress relief flow that’s designed to strip away stresses of the day and bring us to a more blissful place.

warm up yoga

First, find child’s pose. Sit back on your heels, rest forehead on the ground. Relax your entire body, and start connecting with your breath.

Next, find a neutral spine on all fours. Begin moving with your breath. Inhale into cow pose, exhale to cat pose. Repeat five times. (This simple movement warms up your spine, wrists and hips.)

From here, curl your toes under and press into downward facing dog. Make sure you press into your index finger and thumb to avoid dumping weight onto the outside of your wrist.

Cycle through five breaths in downward facing dog. Slowly walk to your hands. Bend knees as much as you need. Arrive into rag doll position. Hold onto opposite elbows, and if it feels good sway side to side.

Now, onto through Sun Salutations A + B.

surya A breath yoga

SUN SALUTATION A (3 times)

From rag doll, slowly roll all the way up, stacking one vertebrae over the next until you arrive and EXHALE in mountain pose.
INHALE, lift arms up, and gaze to your hands.
EXHALE, fold forward, release your neck.
INHALE, lift your torso halfway, gaze forward and widen your collarbone.
EXHALE, plant hands, step / hop back to chaturanga dandasana (if you can do a push up, you can do this!)
Bend elbows to 90 degrees and shift forward to upward facing dog as you INHALE.
EXHALE, downward facing dog.
Stay for five breaths.
Look forward, walk or jump to the top of your mat, INHALE, halfway lift.
EXHALE, fold forward.
INHALE, come to stand, raise your arms and look up.
EXHALE, mountain pose, arms by your side.

surya B breath yoga

SUN SALUTATION B* (3 times)

Make your way from downward facing dog to forward fold.

INHALE, chair pose, sit hips back and raise arms alongside your ears.
EXHALE, drop hands to the mat and straighten legs.
INHALE, halfway lift.
EXHALE, plant hands and step/jump back chaturanga dandasana.
INHALE, upward facing dog.
EXHALE, tuck toes, downward facing dog.
INHALE, raise right leg. Keep toes pointed toward the mat.
EXHALE, plant right foot in between hands, spin back heel down to 45 degrees (toes facing the top left corner of your mat).
INHALE, come to stand with arms alongside ears for warrior I (you’re doing it!).
EXHALE, plant hands to frame foot. Step back to plank, then lower halfway.
INHALE, upward facing dog
EXHALE, downward facing dog.

Repeat on left side.

Once you’ve completed the left side, breathe in downward facing dog.
Look forward, walk or jump to the top of your mat, INHALE, halfway lift.
EXHALE, fold forward.
INHALE, chair pose.
EXHALE, mountain pose.

Repeat complete cycle three times.

*Options for Sun Salutation B:

First Cycle: Add a lunge twist after warrior I, left hand down, pick up back heel, and twist toward raised right arm.

Second Cycle: Humble warrior I after warrior I, interlace hands behind back, bring torso inside bent leg and stretch shoulders. THEN release left hand down for lunge twist.

Third Cycle: Repeat above steps and add a side plank after lunge twist.

Finally, rest in child’s pose for five breaths.

cool down breath yoga

Come to all fours and neutral spine, INHALE, right arm up.

EXHALE, thread it under left arm. Rest on right shoulder. Stay for five breaths.
INHALE, press up to untwist and gaze up.
EXHALE, neutral spine.

Repeat on left side.

We’ll end with breath practice. Find a comfortable seat, close your eyes, and breathe.

INHALE for counts of four.
EXHALE for counts of seven.

Stay for three to five minutes, then slowly open your eyes, and smile.

Namaste, y’all!

Photos via Sara KerensTutti del Monte; Kat Harris of The Refined Woman 

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6 comments

  1. This is fabulous! Thank you for the very detailed instructions and illustrations. Very helpful!

  2. I’m going on a camping trip to Palo Duro Canyon in two weeks. Definitely gonna practice this flow a couple times before then so I can welcome the sunrise. Thank you!! <3

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