Relax and Reset – Yoga with Sophie Correia

Photography Tony Nyberg Location Eastwest.co.nz

Yoga is great for clearing the mind and improving body circulation, flexibility and spine health.

It’s a practice Sophie Correia of Crossing Paths feels fortunate enough to have discovered at school, where she used it as a stress release.

“I’m a typical overthinker,” Correia laughs. “For me it was a kind of oasis and a time that I dedicated to myself.”

She continued her yoga practice through university and found it helped her with her academic success and corporate career.

Having always put her wellness on a pedestal, she was passionate about all the benefits she was receiving and wanted to share those with others, so she trained in Pilates, yoga, meditation and sound healing, eventually giving up law to work in wellness full-time and founding her business Crossing Paths, where she teaches yoga and Pilates, hosts popular sound healing events and day retreats, and works with workplaces to integrate wellness practices into their culture.

She has also created free guided meditations and breathwork and mindfulness techniques to reduce stress, cultivate calm and enhance wellbeing which can be found on InsightTimer (a free app for sleep, anxiety and stress).

Correia is an advocate for taking time out for a yoga session during the workday, especially when the pressure is on. And she knows how that gets, having been a lawyer, consultant and senior manager of more than 25 staff.

“I worked in a really fast-paced environment. It was so easy to just eat your lunch at your desk, or not take time for yourself. The benefits of carving that time out and taking it are profound.

If you can get rid of the guilt and take a break, you’ll actually be more productive because you’ve created more oxygen, more blood flow, your muscles have been stretched and you’re diversifying the way you think and feel.”

Her aim is to make wellness practices as accessible to people as possible.

“I think sometimes it can be quite daunting when you see images of yogis doing handstands. Bringing it back to the simplicity of moving mindfully with your breath is so important to me – it breaks down those barriers of needing to be flexible to do yoga.”

She says rolling the yoga mat out at home is a great place to start and she offers an online class programme, Four Weeks to Wellness, that students can download and practise at their leisure.

“With a consistent practice you become familiar with the exercises and feel the benefits beyond your mat,” she explains. “And from there you might feel more confident to go to a class but sometimes you want to start in your bedroom before you venture out or just like doing it in a space you feel most comfortable.”  crossingxpaths.com

3 yoga poses to practise at home to reset and recentre yourself.

Strike a pose

Hold each pose for a minimum of three to five breaths and up to two minutes.

Side body stretch

Start in a seated cross-legged position but have one shin stacked infront of the other. You can always sit on a block or a blanket to elevate the hips if sitting is difficult for you.

Place one palm down to the mat and reach the opposite arm up towards the ceiling. As you bend through your elbow, draw the upper arm over towards the palm that is resting on the mat to create an opening through your side ribs and let your ear soften down towards your shoulder. Repeat on the opposite side.

The benefits: A side stretch is very good for releasing any tension through the side body and increases our capacity to breathe deeper. It also encourages health of the spine.

Child’s pose

Kneel onto your mat and either bring the big toes to touch and have your knees as wide as your mat or bring the knees in so that the thighs are touching. Extend the arms out in front of you – crawl the fingertips as far forward as you can, and then soften the chin in towards the chest, and rest your forehead on the ground.

The benefits: It’s very grounding to have the forehead in connection with a surface. If your forehead can’t touch the ground, just place a block or a book underneath the forehead so you have that resting point. This is a beautiful stretch to support the spine. Foetal position is a very familiar pose to the body, so it helps calm the nervous system – which makes it a fantastic position to come into if you are ever feeling dizzy or overwhelmed and you need a moment’s rest. It’s very soothing and allows the heart rate to drop back to its natural rhythm.

Cat cow

Take a four-point kneeling position with the knees hip-width apart and the palms shoulder-width apart. Spread your fingertips and feel the front of the feet against the floor. Let the belly soften towards the ground and roll the shoulders down and back and think about opening across the collarbones as you lift the crown of your head. Then as you take your next breath, draw the chin in towards the chest and parachute the ribs up towards the sky, allowing the chin to soften in and feel that expansion through the back of the ribs up towards the ceiling. Repeat this flow of flexion and extension of the spine moving with your breath.

The benefits: Moving from extension into flexion stimulates oxygen through the spine, which creates greater health of the spine and is very energising for the body and mind.

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