The past few weeks have been particularly stressful for me as I raced to get the & She Moves website up and running. It meant many hours sitting in front of the computer filled with an overall sense of anxiety about how to communicate my ideas and approach to the world. Of course, all my hard work (and the hard work of some amazing amazing people) paid off and the & She Moves is up for all to see! I'm so proud of it as well as grateful for the team of wonderful people that have been helping me along on this journey.

As I sat staring at my computer screen trying to address issues such as self care and supporting yourself through stressful times, I realized I really needed to practice what I was preaching. It's so easy to let go of the things that nourish and ground us when we're busy and overwhelmed. I finally found my way back to the things that I draw on to help me feel calm and centred, and felt much more supported as I finished up the work for the big launch. It really is something that we need to work at and make part of our daily lives so when things don't go as expected we don't totally lose it!   

The holiday season is another time of year I tend to totally lose it.  Although I absolutely adore the Christmas season, I don't think I've had a Christmas yet where I wasn't panicked with last minute shopping, food preparation, over committing myself to numerous festive events, not to mention dealing with kids who have consumed entire gingerbread houses and stayed up hours past their regular bed time. Last year I bought myself an early Christmas present. I got myself a tank top (from www.myinnerfire.ca) that read Abandon Perfection. When Christmas Eve rolled around  I had every intention of just relaxing and enjoying the day together as a family. Well, that afternoon I found myself running from store to store looking for last minute stocking stuffers. On Christmas morning I pulled out my new top and threw it on as a blatant and physical reminder to CHILL OUT and enjoy the day, even if things didn't go as I imagined or intended.  

When I started thinking about setting up the & She Moves Blog, which happened to be launching in December, I thought this would be the perfect opportunity to share some for the founding principles of & She Moves in a really applicable and practical way. Two of the core principles of the & She Moves approach is Balance and Support and the goal is to provide women with a physical practice that helps them feel strong, grounded, aligned, light, and free. I figured most of us could use a little grounding during this busy time of year so I'd like to offer up a short practice that you can draw on to help you feel a bit more peaceful so you can fully enjoy your time with friends and family.  Taking a few minutes each day to help ground you won't ensure that things are perfect, in fact that's why we do this type of work.  So that when we feel overwhelmed, exhausted and are wrestling the kids down to bed (just so you can go wrap and assemble toys) you don't crumble into a mess of tears and shortbread cookies.  

Feel free to draw on elements of this practice throughout your day when you're feeling overwhelmed or stressed out.  You don't have to do the whole thing at once, in fact sprinkling these movements in throughout your day will help sustain you.  Feel free to share your experiences and any questions you might have as well.  

1) Hip Hinge-With feet hip width apart, keep your spine long and feel as it you are hinging forward, not rounding your back as you  lean forward.  Feel your bum go back behind you.  Feet firmly pressing into the ground as you come back up to standing.  

2) Standing Figure 4 Stretch- As you stand on one leg bring the opposite foot onto your knee.  Bend your standing leg and you take your bum back behind you.  

3) Releve with Arms Overhead- Stand with feet hip width and on your exhale lift your heels away from the ground.  Think of your ankles and inner thighs magnatized toward each other. See if you can imagine leaning against a wall behind you and you are trying to slide up the wall.  

4) Thoracic Figure 8's-Bring your hands on top of your head and nod your chin down to your chest.  Start to make a kayaking motion with your elbows.  Think of hugging a small ball between your inner thighs and try to keep your hips still.  

5) Squats with Swimming Arms- Feel your weight back on your heels and start to bend your knees as your bum moves back behind you.  Think of moving at your hips, knees and ankles.  Reach arms overhead as you squat, arms reach around and down by your hips as you stand back up.  

6) Reclining Twist *Pregnant women may want to avoid a deep twists, instead try taking your arms out to a t, your feet should be wider than your hips and your knees bent. Allow your legs to sway from side to side. If you are experiencing low back or Si joint pain this pose isn't the best for you to do.   

7) Legs up the Wall *Pregnant women may not feel comfortable laying on their back without their heads elevated. Feel free to put a blanket or block under your head here. If this does not feel comfortable for you, lay on your back with head slightly elevated either with legs bent or long on the ground.  

8) Extended exhalation.  As you lay  in either legs up the wall pose or flat on your back, allow your breath to become full and constant. Count the length of both the inhalation and exhalation.  See if you can start to lengthen the exhale so it is just longer than your inhalation.  i.e.) if you breathe in for a count of 4, see if you can breathe out for a count of 5 or 6.  If you find you are holding your breath or forcing it, try coming back to a more natural breathing pattern.

Peace. 

-Laura