5 Poses to Help Beat the Fall Funk

Autumn is one of my favorite seasons - the air feels fresher, the leaves get more colorful, and pumpkin spice lattes start making their way back onto all the menus. I get excited for cozy sweaters and cute boots, and I’ve been known to celebrate Black Friday as enthusiastically as Thanksgiving (on more than one occasion). But even still, there are definite moments where I feel the ‘fall funk’. Perhaps it’s the time change and shorter days that leave me feeling a little less motivated than usual. Or maybe it’s the thought of a long winter just around the corner that makes me a tad restless. Either way, the good news is that rolling out my mat always gets me back on track. And on the days when I don’t have time for a full yoga practice, the below postures never fail to boost my mood and help me feel more grounded.

1. Boat Pose (Navasana)

Boat Pose

Boat Pose

This pose is popular for building strength in the core & hip-flexors, but did you know it also helps relieve stress? Boat Pose creates a sense of grounding by connecting our Root Chakra (the energy center located at the base of the spine) directly to the earth.

To Perform Boat Pose:

  • Begin seated with your legs extended and your hands a few inches behind your hips.

  • Bend your knees and raise your feet off the floor, so that your thighs create an angle about 45 degrees to the floor. Extend your arms straight alongside the legs, and parallel to the floor. (if not possible, keep the hands on the floor).

  • Lengthen your tailbone downward, and if possible, begin to straighten your knees (if not possible, keep the knees bent with the shins parallel to the floor).

  • Think about grounding the tailbone downward, extending the crown of your head upward, and keeping the core engaged.

  • Hold for 5-10 breaths and then slowly lower the arms and legs to release.

2. Inversions

Yoga inversions (poses where the heart is lower than the head) are unique in that they are both relaxing and energizing. And perhaps even important is that they get us to change our perspective on the world - literally & figuratively! Headstand (shown here) is just one kind of inversion, but if this posture is not a part of your practice, try one of many other inversion options, such as Downward Facing Dog or Legs Up the Wall.

To Perform Headstand:



  • Begin on your hands & knees, then lower your forearms to the floor with your elbows directly under your shoulders (you can clasp each hand around the opposite elbow to ensure that your elbows are the right distance apart).

  • Clasp your hands, interlacing your fingers, and place the crown of your head on the floor. The back of your head should rest gently at the base of your thumbs.

  • Raise your hips & straighten your legs. Slowly walk your feet in closer to your head until your hips are over your shoulders.

  • Now bend your knees, and begin to draw one knee in toward your chest. If you feel balanced here, lift that foot up from the floor. Again, if you feel totally balanced, repeat with the other leg so that both feet are off the floor. You can keep the knees bent, or extend the legs straight (this will make the balance more challenging).

  • Hold for 3-5 breaths and then slowly lower one leg at a time to release.

3. Heart Openers

Heart-openers such as Camel Pose are instant mood-boosters, and a great way to warm up the body as the weather gets cold.  Additional bonus: they also help improve posture by reversing the many hours of leaning forward we do on a day-to-day basis.

To Perform Camel Pose:

Camel Pose

Camel Pose

  • Begin on your knees with your legs hip-width apart. Place your palms on the back of your pelvis, with your fingers pointing to the floor.

  • Lengthen your tailbone downward as you begin to lean back, with your chin slightly tucked.

  • Stay here, or if you are comfortable, you can deepen the pose by reaching back and taking hold of your heels. If you can’t quite reach your heels, you can tuck you toes to elevate your heels.

  • Lengthen the spine bring your hips forward so that your hips are directly over your knees. Keep your head in a neutral position, or let it drop back if it feels comfortable for your neck.

  • Hold for 5-8 breaths, then bring your hands to your hips and lift your torso as you press your hips downward to release.

4. Happy Baby Pose

This posture embodies its name by instantly melting stress away and awakening our inner child. It releases the low back & sacrum while providing a gentle stretch to the hips - a place where many of us hold tension.

To Perform Happy Baby Pose:

Happy Baby Pose

Happy Baby Pose

  • Begin lying on your back with your knees drawn in towards the chest.

  • Grab hold of the outside edges of your feet with your hands.  Draw your shoulders down on to your back as you flex your feet.

  • Widen the knees as you pull them in toward your armpits. Try to stack ankles above knees.

  • Lengthen your lower back down toward the ground, with the intention of touching the tip of your tailbone to the floor.

  • Stay here for 8-16 breaths and then lower the legs to release.

5. Child's Pose

Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose

This classic resting posture is a favorite for good reason. It’s incredibly calming and comforting, and provides a wonderful sense of physical, mental, and emotional release. 

To Perform Child’s Pose:

  • Begin on all fours, with your shoulders directly over your wrists and your hips over your knees.  With an exhale slowly lower the hips down to the heels and the forehead to the floor. 

  • The knees can stay together or if more comfortable, spread them slightly apart.  The arms can be overhead with the palms on the floor, or they can be along side the body with the palms up.

  • Breathe slowly and deeply. Actively press the belly into the thighs on each inhale.

  • Stay here for 10-20 breaths.  Slowly return to a seated position to release.

4 Yoga Poses to Help Open Your Shoulders

Open Shoulders can help with Proper Alignment in Forearm Stand

Open Shoulders can help with Proper Alignment in Forearm Stand

So many of us carry tension in our shoulders - whether it’s from sitting at a computer for hours a day, using our smartphones, or even from the way we sleep - the shoulders are one of the most common parts of our body to hold stress.  Having stiff shoulders can affect our yoga practice too.  Many of the poses we perform are compromised when there is a limited range of motion in the shoulders (such as Forearm Stand).

Shoulder-opening poses are a great way to relieve tension and to help prevent injury in postures that require the shoulders to be more open.  Below are 4 of my go-to shoulder-opening postures:

1. Garudasana (Eagle) Arms

Garudasana Arms

Garudasana Arms

  • While in a comfortably seated position, reach your arms straight forward and parallel to the ground.

  • Spread your scapula wide as you cross your left arm over your right.

  • Bend your elbows. Your left elbow should be directly inside of the right one, and the backs of your hands should be facing one other.

  • Continue to twist the arms so that the palms of the hands are facing one another. Then press the palms together as much as you comfortably can.

  • Raise your elbows up, reaching the fingertips toward the sky.

  • Hold for 10 breaths, then release, and repeat on the opposite side for the same length of time.

2. Shoulder Stretch with Blocks

Shoulder Stretch with Blocks

Shoulder Stretch with Blocks

  • Begin sitting on your shins. Place two blocks, on their highest height, about 6-8 inches on either side of you and slightly in front of you.

  • Bring your hands to prayer pose behind your head, so that your fingers are pointing down toward the ground. Slowly lean forward until both elbows are resting on the blocks. It's ok if your hips lift up slightly.

  • Gently lower your head down as you sink your hips back slightly. Make sure to only go as far as feels comfortable for your body.

  • Hold for 10-15 breaths, then come up to release.

3. Thread the Needle

Thread the Needle

Thread the Needle

  • Begin on your hands and knees, with your wrists directly under your shoulders and your knees directly under your hips. Your knees should be hip-width apart.

  • Slide your left arm under your right arm, with the palm facing up. Allow your left shoulder to lower all the way down to the ground . Rest your left cheek on the mat.

  • Keep your hips raised. You can extend your right hand toward the front of the mat, or straight up toward the sky. You can gaze upward if that feels comfortable for you as well.

  • Make sure not press weight onto your head, instead, and keep your lower back relaxed. Allow all of the tension in your shoulders, arms, & neck to malt away.

  • Hold for 5-8 breaths. Slowly slide your left out out to exit and release. then repeat on the opposite side for the same length of time.

4. Gomukhasana Arms

  • While n a comfortably seated position, reach your left arm out toward the left so that its parallel to the floor. Rotate your arm inwardly so that your thumb is pointing down.

  • Gently bend your left arm and place your hand behind your back. Roll your left should down and back, and begin to inch your left hand upward so that its parallel to your spine. Try to get the back of your left hand between your shoulder blades.

  • Now extend your right arm reaching it up toward the sky. Bend your right elbow and reach your right hand down for the left hand.

  • If you're unable to hook the right and left fingers, try using a strap so that you can reach.

  • Try to keep the chest lifted, as you lean back slightly.

  • Hold for 10-12 breaths, then slowly release and repeat on the opposite side for the same length of time.

Gomukhasana Arms

Gomukhasana Arms

Gomukhasana Arms using a Strap

Gomukhasana Arms using a Strap

Fall-ing for Yoga, 4 Poses To Help Balance Your Autumn Practice

The leaves have started to change color, the days have grown shorter and cooler, and pumpkin spice lattes are now back on the menu... fall is officially here.  My personal favorite way to welcome autumn includes cozy sweaters and a new pair of booties (not to mention a little extra Netflix time).  But there is one additional thing I've added to this year's list, and that is to balance out my yoga practice with a few key poses for fall. The ones I've listed below really help my body transition through the season more gracefully.  Oh, and there is one more thing I forgot to mention - a cute new yoga outfit always makes coming to the mat a lot more exciting.  The one I'm wearing in all of the photos here is by Sam Edelman, and it couldn't be more perfect for this fall!

1. Get Grounded

It turns out that along with the change in weather, it's also quite common to experience some extra nervous energy during this transitional season.  Practicing grounding poses, including this Chair Pose Variation can help the body feel stronger and more centered. 


Chair Pose Variation

Chair Pose Variation

  • Separate your feet about the width of your mat, with your toes turned outward.

  • Ground your feet firmly into the floor as squat down, lowering your torso onto your thighs and keeping your hips in line with your knees.

  • Extend your arms forward. Reach them all the way toward the front of the room as you reach your hips all the way back.

  • Keep your core engaged and your belly lifting up.

  • Squeeze your triceps inward toward your ears and press your palms away.

  • Hold for five breaths, then release and repeat 3 more times.

2. Build Heat & Feel Energized

Though its tempting to just stay in and hibernate as the weather cools down, it's important to get the body warmed up to combat the stiffness that often accompanies the cold.  Incorporating energizing poses, such as Bridge Pose (or any heart-opening pose) is a great way to build heat in the body.

Bridge Pose

Bridge Pose

  • Begin lying on your back, with the knees bent, with your feet flat on the floor and arms by your sides.

  • Raise the hips up toward the ceiling and either interlace the hands together or leave the arms down by the sides of the body.

  • Keep the neck in neutral as you continue to life the hips higher.

  • Hold for five breaths, then lower and repeat 2 more times.


3. Cleanse & Detox

Fall time is, unfortunately, often accompanied by cold & flu season. Spending extra time indoors only helps germs to spread faster.  Yoga twists, such as Revolved Triangle Pose are a great way to boost the body’s natural detoxification process by helping to flush the toxins from the body and promote cleansing on a cellular level.

Revolved Triangle Pose

Revolved Triangle Pose

  • Begin with your feet about 2-3 feet apart, and align the right heel with the left heel. Pivot your right foot out 90 degrees and turn your left foot slightly inward.

  • Reach your left arm up toward the ceiling, Hinge forward from your hips, keeping length in the spine and open your torso to the right as you place your left hand to the outside of your right foot. Use your right hand, if necessary, to draw your left hip back so it stays in line with your right hip.

  • Lengthen your spine and roll your right shoulder back as you extend your right arm upward. Reach the left fingertips toward the ceiling. If possible, turn your head to gaze at your right thumb.

  • Hold for five breaths, then slowly release and repeat on the opposite side for the same length of time

4. Rest & Restore

Restorative yoga poses help us disconnect from the frenzied pace of daily life.  The slow pace and deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system which has a calming effect on our minds and bodies.  Studies have shown that this type of relaxation, including poses like Legs Up the Wall, can help fend off depression, provide higher quality sleep, and improve mental health.

Legs Up the Wall pose

Legs Up the Wall pose

  • Begin by sitting with the right side of your body against the wall. Using your hands to balance, gently swivel your body to the right as you lower your torso to the floor and bring your legs up onto the wall.

  • Rest your shoulders and head on the floor. Wiggle your body from side-to-side to scoot your sitting bones closer to the wall. Let your arms gently rest at your sides, or place your left hand on your heart center, and your right hand on your belly.

  • Close your eyes and stay here for 5-10 minutes. Notice your breath as you lie here.

  • Slowly release by pushing yourself gently away from the wall as you slide your legs down and return to a seated position.

* Outfit worn throughout is by Sam Edelman