Congratulations! Your wedding month is here. But hey, it’s no surprise if you’re feeling a little north of frazzled. Enter: Yoga. The ancient practice or maintaining and flowing through various “asanas” or poses can work wonders to restore serenity and channel strength physically and mentally. And while you may see classes or apps geared towards breath work or strength-building, you’d be hard-pressed to find a Bridal Yoga Tutorial. That’s why we reached out to top yoga instructors for their favorite moves to get you mentally and physically grounded and beat anxiety the month leading up to your big day.
It turns out, there are countless benefits to doing yoga as a bride-to-be: "Heart-opening poses, detoxing twists, and mind cleansing inversions all play an essential role in your path to bridal happiness and calm," says Rachael A. Babington, founder of Brides Love Yoga. "At Brides Love Yoga, we give each bride the opportunity to become more present, allowing her to soak up every moment of her big day. We also offer yoga packages for bachelorette parties, weddings, and private sessions with the bride."
Can’t swing a bridal retreat? Don’t sweat it: We’re bringing it to you! Read on and try a pose each day as your big day approaches, and you’ll be saying namaste to flower drama and honeymoon planning stress in no time! Namaste, Mrs.!
Day 31: Noose Pose
“Stand next to a wall with your feet hip-width and parallel to each other. With the wall on your right side, turn to the right and press your right palm into the wall; your arm should be parallel to the ground. Turn your torso back to center. Bend your knees into a full squat, resting your backside on your calves/heels. If you’re not able to get the heels touching floor, squat with the heels high,” explains yoga instructor Francesca Bistarelli of Hilton Waikoloa Village Kohala Spa, Hawaiian Ashtanga Yoga. “Swinging knees to the left and torso to the right, and exhale in-motion to deepen your pose as you reach your arms around, as if you were hugging your lower back.” Holding this for just 30 seconds to a minute will stretch and strengthen your back and ankles and get yourself ready for a day of bouncing around in heels with perfect posture!
Day 30: Bound Ankle Pose
“Take your feet together and knees apart, sitting bones on edge of blanket or block to tilt your pelvis forward. You can also put a block under your head if hanging the head is uncomfortable on the neck or letting go of the weight of the head is hard for you,” suggest Jena Maenius and Benn Rasmusen of Benn & Jena Yoga Retreats. “Hold this for five to seven minutes, You’re looking for a release that feels a lot like a runner's high.”
It's more elegant than it sounds — for brides worn-out and low on energy, this simple yet powerful pose works to restore energy and enhance blood circulation. “This strengthening and balancing pose can even give those practicing it a new perspective of the world,” says Marcia Miller, founder and co-owner of Columbus, Ohio’s Yoga on High. And with the unique angle you’ll be a viewing things from in downward dog, it’s no surprise in can reset your attitude literally and figuratively. “There are many variations of this pose to cater across all skill levels. For the classic version — start on your hands and knees, and lift your hips up and back so your body is in a triangle shape, with your hands and feet remaining grounded. To modify, put hands on the seat of a chair or even against the wall.”
Talk about something we wouldn’t mind infusing into our life! “This pose brings serene tranquility, relieves physical and mental tiredness, and leaves you grounded and calm,” comments Aruba-based Yoga Instructor Carolien Gaarthuis. “Elevate your hips slightly by sitting on a folded blanket or a block. Cross your legs comfortably and keep the spine neutral and rest your hands on your knees. As you inhale, lift up through the crown of the head. As you exhale, relax your shoulders and ground through your sits bones. Soften your jaw and breathe through your nostrils. Lengthen your breaths as long as is comfortable. Focus on the gentle expansion of the body on inhales and the release on exhales. Allow the breath to calm your mind.” Remember: Everything gets better with practice, so don’t be hard on yourself if you find this exercise challenging at first.
You’ll want to start this pose in Downward Facing Dog (see Day 29). Raise your right leg so it extends away from you. Bring your right knee forward towards your nose and then turn your right knee outwards, gently placing it on the floor. “Slide your left leg back behind you and lower the outside of your right buttock to the floor. Place your hands on either side of your leg. Exhale and lay your torso down over your right leg hold pose for four to five breaths. Repeat on the other side,” explains Meghan Kalmus, yoga instructor at TruFusion in Las Vegas.
Day 26: Seated Forward Fold
You may hear it referred to as Pashimotanasana, but don’t be intimidated by the long name.“Find a comfortable seat on your yoga mat, and extend your legs straight out ahead of you. Keep the legs together so the knees and big toes touch. Flex your feet back towards yourself and take a deep breath in as you reach your arms up to the ceiling; as you exhale, start to hinge forward and down towards your legs and take a hold of your outer feet,” explains Kat Fowler, a NYC-based Aruban yoga instructor who regularly hosts local classes and on-island yoga retreats at the Manchebo Beach Resort & Spa. “If you can’t reach your feet, bend your knees until you can. Relax your head and your neck, and close your eyes. Allow yourself to take five deep breaths in this posture, focusing the breathing deep in your belly and down the backs of the legs. Once complete, look forward and use an inhale to rise back up to your seat.” Did we mention the pose feels like you’re giving yourself a hug?
Now here’s a pose name we can get behind: “What bride doesn’t want the regal, open feeling of resting back with every body part fully supported? You’ll feel like a queen and, of course, you are the queen of this time in your life,” says Miller. Lying on your back, let your palms fall to both sides of your body. Bring the soles of your feet together and let your legs fall open to both sides making a diamond shape. “This pose promotes total relaxation, quality respiration, digestion and is restoring to all systems of your body.”
Begin this pose on all fours with toes tucked in, making sure your hips are stacked over knees and shoulders over wrists. “Walk your hands out in front of you, and allow your chest to melt toward the floor. Keep your arms extended and shoulders-width distance apart, pressing the palms into the floor. Reach the hips back to create traction in your spine. Rest your forehead on the floor or a blanket, and breathe into this juicy heart opener for 30 seconds to a minute. Symmetrical restorative poses like [this] are wonderful for calming the mind — as we begin to find symmetry in the physical body, the subtle body follows suit. Our thoughts and breath become more even, reducing anxiety, all the while softening your heart for your big day!” exclaims yoga instructor Michael Simpson of New Jersey-based POE Yoga.
Also known as Dandasana, this yogi move is particularly great on days when you feel like you’re running on empty and need an energy jolt. “For this pose, you’ll need to be seated with legs extended. Hold your body in an ‘L’ shape,” offers Yoga Instructor Jasmine Grace, Co-Owner of Columbus, Ohio’s Yoga on High. “Press the tops of your legs towards the ground and flex your feet. Be sure to be relaxed, but keep your spine erect. There is a sense of grounding down from the waist and lifting up through the crown of the head. This pose can connect you to the earth, helping you to establish a sense of strength and stamina.”
Day 22: Standing Separate Leg Stretching Pose
“Take a big step to the right, four feet minimum (the wider the stance, the easier the stretch). Move your feet closer and closer; the easier it is for you to touch your forehead to the floor between your legs, the smaller your step should be. Keep your spine straight as long as possible and reach for the outer edge of both ankles. Once you can grab your ankles, use the strength of your arms to help pull yourself farther downward,” says yoga instructor Kathy Lee of TruFusion in Las Vegas.
Day 21: Candle Pose
Instead of stressing over the candle scents at your table settings (trust us, nobody ever left a wedding complaining of the scent scape, anyways) try this: “Begin by lying on your back, bending your knees so the soles of the feet are flat on the floor and hips-width distance apart. On an exhale, press down through the heels, lifting the hips into a bridge pose, and slide one to two blocks underneath your sacrum (the triangular-shaped bone of your lower back, just above your buttocks),” offers Simpson. “Place the block on the lowest setting, as the wider surface area will provide more support; you can always stack the blocks one on top of each other to lift the hips higher. Once supported by the block(s), bring the knees into the chest one at a time, and extend the legs toward the ceiling. Rest the arms on the floor, palms face-up, and close your eyes; stay in this pose for up to give minutes. Gravity increases the venous blood flow to the heart and brain, which slows your heart rate, gently welcoming in a state of mental clarity.”
Day 20: Plank Pose
"Start on your hands and knees, shoulders over wrists and hips over knees. Straighten your legs. Look forward and down, and breathe in and out through your nose, holding 5-10 breaths — or longer if you can," says Lauren Imparato, founder and owner of New York City’s I.AM.YOU. Studio and author of RETOX . "This pose will help tone your arms, back, and abs without building bulk and will keep you focused." To make it more of a challenge, try holding it as you listen to a song you like and see if you can push yourself one verse past when you feel like giving up.
Day 19: Child’s Pose
“Come onto your hands and knees. Separate your knees as wide as is comfortable, and melt your chest down to the mat. Bring your forehead to the mat, and walk your fingertips straight out in front of you,” describes Michelle Gottfried, certified Power Vinyasa yoga instructor based in Charleston, South Carolina. “Child's pose gently stretches the low back and hips. For achy shoulders, walk your arms down by your sides, palms facing up. This is a great place to ease the mind and quiet down any anxiety. Most importantly, child's pose is a place to be introspective and rest.”
Day 18: Modified Shoulder Stand
This posture is a great way to reconnect with your body after a long day on your feet of running to cake tastings and meeting with your band or DJ to review the playlist. “Lie down on your back. Place legs up the wall until your body makes an L shape. Place a block or a large folded blanket under your seat. Legs extend straight up toward the ceiling. Place a towel over your eyes and relax. Hold this posture for at least four minutes,” describes yoga instructor Heather Sheridan of New Jersey-based POE Yoga. “The benefits of modified shoulder stand are that it protects the cervical spine and calms the nervous system and mind.” And if you’ve been practicing walking around in heels a lot lately, it also works to relieve swollen ankles and feet.
Day 17: Cobbler’s Pose
You may just become hooked on this humbling, grounding pose: “In a seated position with your spine erect, press the soles of your feet together and fold your legs deeply,” offers Grace. “Your pelvic bones move back and the tops of your thighs release towards the ground. This wonderful hip opener can be propped by putting pillows under the knees and thighs and sitting on a blanket so that the natural curvature of your spine is maintained.”
Day 16: Side-Lying Stretch
What gal doesn’t need a little breathing help in her bridal beauty first aid kit? “True bridal beauty radiates from the inside out, so it is essential to do hip opening posture and yoga fusion strengthening moves... Shallow breathing has a negative affect every cell in the body — expanding lung capacity has the opposite effect. Lie on your right side on a mat or the floor, keeping your legs extended and your body in a straight line. Bend your right arm and rest your head on your bicep,” describes NY Health and Wellness fitness director Lisa Avellino. “Bend your left knee so that your foot moves toward your left buttock. Inhale and grab that foot (or ankle) with your left hand while keeping your spine neutral. Exhale and gently pull your left foot and lower leg up and back (toward your tailbone), keeping your thighs together.”
Day 15: Waterfall
You’re approaching the two week mark, but it doesn’t mean the floodgates of anxiety have to unfurl! Instead, unleash a rush of zen with this simple pose that you hold for several minutes each time you practice: “Lie down on a carpeted floor with your legs draped over the seat of a chair. The height of the chair should be low enough so the calves rest fully and comfortably, but not so low that the knees are higher than the feet. Knees should be snuggled up to the edge of the chair,” explains Miller. “Just 10 minutes in this relaxing and restorative pose mid-day or before dinner can refresh and revive even the busiest of brides and bridal parties. It’s important to focus on your breathing with this one — slow and steady rhythmic breaths in and out. Incorporate the waterfall pose into your nightly routine to encourage a peaceful night’s sleep.”
Day 14: Camel Pose
“Standing upright on your knees on the floor with toes tucked, place hands in your seat like you are putting your hands in jean pockets. Keep chin slightly tucked. Keep your hips in line with your knees,” says Sheridan. “Start to lean your body weight back into your hands and look toward the ceiling. Draw the shoulders down the back. Lift the chest toward the ceiling. Hands can stay on your seat back or down to your heels. Keep the arms in external rotation. Hold for 10 breaths, Child’s pose (see Day 20) for 5 breaths, and then repeat Camel again for 10-15 breaths. This pose will strengthen your back muscles and open your chest and heart as it improves spinal flexibility and posture.” You may feel particularly vulnerable in this position, but with time, you’ll find strength and grace in this emotionally intense posture. (Just try it and you’ll see what we mean, trust us).
Day 13: Forward Fold (Rag Doll Variation)
You made it past the two-week mark until your nuptials! This rejuvenating pose is a nice way to free up tension. “Separate your feet at least hip-width distance apart and fold your torso over your legs, keeping your knees soft (or very bent). Grab opposite elbows with opposite hands to help weigh your head down toward the ground,” says Gottfried. “This pose stretches, calves, hips, hamstrings, lower and upper back. This pose reverses the blood flow of the body, which may help relieve headaches and insomnia.”
Day 12: Supine Spinal Twist
“Start on your back with your arms in a ‘T’ position. Bend your knees, feet on the floor. Allow your knees to relax to the right side. Gaze to your left as you place your right hand on top of your knee or thigh. Inhale and feel the gentle expansion of your rib cage and belly. Exhale and relax,” advises Elisabeth Halfpapp, Core Fusion co-creator and yoga instructor at Exhale. “To switch sides, draw your navel to your spine, slowly bring your knees to your chest massaging your low back and sacrum neutralizing your spine. Repeat on the other side. Stay in the pose as long as it's comfortable, up to a couple of minutes on each side. Spinal twist helps twist out toxins and stress. Also twisting to the left side, is your lunar side of the body, which is calming and introspective.”
Day 11: Handstand
“This pose can be exhilarating, challenging, and a bit scary — not unlike marriage. Why not practice this pose beforehand? The first step of handstand is to just get the feet a little higher than the hands in Downward Facing Dog pose (see Day 29),” says Miller. “This can be done at a staircase with the feet on the first step and the hands on the floor out in front.
For those brides-to-be who need a bit more of a challenge, go directly up against the wall. The handstand pose brings instant relief from both mental and physical tension built up over long hours of sitting or standing. ”Try having your partner spot you and hold your legs up if you’re a beginner, or if handstand isn’t for you, try Day 18, Modified Shoulder Stand, for a similar release.
Day 10: Legs Up The Wall Pose
Feeling more grounded and centered? Don’t mind if we do. “One of the instant fixes for tired and weary feet is Legs-Up-The-Wall pose. It helps with circulation and releasing tension for tired feet and legs,” explains Chidimma Ozor, yoga instructor at TruFusion in Las Vegas, Nevada. Simply sit about half a foot away from the wall and lie on your back as you prop your feet up against the wall as you focus on deep inhales and exhales to steady your breath. “If you're running errands and had a long crazy afternoon trying to tie up loose ends before your big day, reward yourself with this pose!”
Day 9: Tree Pose
Single digits, here we go! Even just a minute or two in this posture can make an impactful difference, and practicing it diligently overtime will reveal an improvement in balance and core stability. Grace explains: “Start in a standing position, and bring weight onto your right foot while you press your left foot into the inner thigh or inner calf of the right side of your leg. Draw your hands overhead, and find a balancing point to gaze upon.” There’s true strength in stillness, ladies. “Focus, and breathe. Hips are square, shoulders are relaxed and moving away from ears. Allow an interplay between the left and right sides of your legs and feet — a pressing into one another while maintaining balance, breath, and emotional reactions.”
Day 8: Dragon Pose
Hello, zen. This deep stretch works wonders for your hips, where we tend to hold a lot of tightness. Begin either on hands and knees or in downward-facing dog (see Day 29). “Step one foot between the hands. Walk the front foot forward until the knee is right above the heel [and lunge forward] Slide the back knee backward as far as you can. Keep the hands on either side of the front foot,” offers Kalmus. Repeat on the other side.
Day 7: Diamond Pose
With one week to go, it’s no surprise that errands, family gatherings, and jitters are all amping up. This pose is as liberating as it is graceful. “Sit and bring the soles of your feet to touch, heels about one to two feet away from the pelvis. Inhale lengthen your spine. Exhale round forward reaching your forehead to your heels. Breathe for five to 10 breaths. This pose will help relieve your lower back after all the running around, heels, and stress,” says Lauren Imparato, founder and owner of New York City’s I.AM.YOU. Studio and author of RETOX.
Day 6: Standing Forward Bend
Melt away tension and channel in a new state of mind: “Begin standing, and if your hamstrings are on the tighter side of the spectrum, it may feel better to walk your feet out as wide as your hips. From here, exhale slowly and fold towards the floor, head pointing in the direction of your feet,” shares yoga instructor Lara Falberg of Yoga on High in Columbus, Ohio. “Perhaps begin by swaying here, and eventually transition to placing your hands on your legs wherever is supportive to allow you to bend from the hips instead of your waist to lengthen and align your spine. Enjoy the perspective shift, and ensure your tongue is sitting in the base of your mouth instead of stuck to the roof so your breath pathway is as clear as possible.”
Day 5: Chair Pose
Not a particularly hard setup, but it's a physically and mentally challenging pose. “Start by standing with feet together (or, to modify, hip-width apart). Bend your knees, and imagine you’re sitting back on a chair,” comments Grace. “Sweep your arms overhead and allow your gaze to be gently forward. Your shoulder blades should be firm against the back and move toward the pelvis. Meanwhile, your shins move forward and ground the heels into the earth. Go ahead and allow a natural curve in the spine.” Between your hands visualize a word like “organized” or “relaxed” that ushers in thoughts of happy bridal karma.
Day 4: Crow Pose
It may be worthy of countless #yogagrams, but the real strength in this pose lies in turning inward as you attempt it and being okay with not getting it quite right, if at all. “This posture is cool on so many levels. It falls in the camp of initially seemingly impossible poses that actually are accessible to many who attempt it. It requires using all of the strength at your disposal, not just your upper body,” says Falberg. “It also insists on commitment the entire time you're in the pose. Begin with a low squat, heels off the ground, hands several inches in front of your knees. Place your hands shoulder distance apart, and super-glue your knees to the outside of the uppermost part of your arms. Engage your core muscles, quads, breath, and gaze as shift your body weight into the center of your hands. Bend your elbows back and squeeze the inner elbow creases towards one another. Simultaneously round your upper spine, and reach your chest forward as you lift your feet off the ground (just try one at a time if you’re new to the pose), balancing on your hands. Look at least a foot in front of your hands and concentrate. Stay for as many breaths as you're able.”
Day 3: Partner Seated Twist
This one requires your soon to be husband: “Sit back to back in a cross-legged position. Get as closely lined up with your partner as possible, your backs pressing together snugly. Take your left hand, and place it on your own right knee. Your right hand goes on our partner's left knee,” explains Falberg. “Once you both have this hand position, breathe in together, and on the exhale, twist to your respective right. Take about five breaths, then switch the position of your hands and the cross of your legs and do the other side. It feels best when your backs are as supportive of one another as possible and your breath is coordinated and compatible.”
Day 2: Happy Baby
A fitting name for Rehearsal Dinner Day — get the party started by carving out a few minutes to try this soothing, joyful pose: “Lying on your back, hug the knees to your chest. Grab the soles of the feet, the ankles, or the back of the legs. Open the feet apart so that they are above your knees, and pull the knees towards the floor alongside your chest. Relax your head and shoulders down to the floor,” describes Kalmus.
Your Wedding Day: Seated Meditation
Your big day has finally arrived. Here’s how to infuse your morning with calm: “Sit with your pelvis elevated; make sure your hip bones are higher than knees,” explain Jena and Benn. “This will allow the spine to elongate and for the nervous system to be calmer. Close your eyes and watch your breath. Remember, thoughts are normal; you are human. Focus on the space between your thoughts and touch them lightly, like a feather, with your breath. Try not to use a sledgehammer mentality! Keep your palms resting down on your thighs, grounding you down, and palms face open, receptive and offering.” Now, if you ask us, what could be a better way than to start things off than with a moment of reflection and gratitude? Om, indeed.