By Ryan Mandell
Originally from London, Santa Barbara-based yoga teacher Mollie Mendoza teaches dance and yoga at retreats and festivals around the globe. As founder of Mendoza Movement, Mollie also specializes as a massage and reiki therapist for private clients.
“Dance, yoga, reiki, and massage all involve a movement of energy,” Mollie explains. “Movement of either body, emotions, or physical pain—it’s all just energy. I believe you need all of these depending on the circumstance of your life. For me, dance, reiki, massage, and yoga are all equally important: that’s why my tagline is Move Everyday.”
We agree with Mollie that movement is essential to a healthy lifestyle, and that motion and balance are keys to sustaining one’s mental capacity and flowing through life with ease. Try these 6 poses at your desk, and watch how you and your work shift in a positive direction.
- Mountain Pose Tadasana: The most basic standing pose, this is great for posture and core strength. For this pose, simply gaze forward, relax your shoulders, engage your core, keep your knees soft, and slightly tuck your pelvis forward—that’s it! Mollie says, “If you do this for over 3 minutes, you should be sweating!”
- Eagle: This is a great stretch for the neck, shoulders, and upper back, and it will strengthen your legs and improve your balance. Bend your knees, lift your heart, bring your right arm underneath your left, and wrap at the elbows and the wrists. Have fun with this one and embody the eagle: swift, graceful, and strong!
- Tree Pose: A basic, beginner-friendly balance pose. All balance poses are good for core strength and mental focus. Set your right foot onto the ground, grab your left knee and bring it up, rotating your left leg to the side, and place your foot above or below your knee (just not on the knee). Stretch your arms above your head or out to the sides to embody your favorite tree and root through the center of your feet. Switch legs and repeat.
- Standing or Seated Side Stretch: We often focus on stretching either the back or the front of the body, while neglecting our sides. Keep a neutral spine, lift your rib cage, bring your palms together above your head, inhale, tilt to one side with an exhale, then inhale to come up; repeat on the opposite side. This side stretch is easy to perform and can be modified to be as intense or gentle as you would like.
- Forward Fold: Interlace hands behind your back for this basic forward bend that can be done sitting or standing. Just make sure you bend from the hip joints instead of the waist: “You have hinges at your hips for a reason,” explains Mollie.
- Frame: Place each elbow into the opposite palm. Take a moment to really fit the center of each elbow bone into the center of of each palm. Once you have that fit, imagine that you’re pulling your arms apart, even as you hold them together well, and feel the opening in your lungs and liver. Breathe spaciously for 5 breaths, pulling out to the sides, holding in to the center, and lifting up the frame of your arms. This can be done standing or seated.
Since she first began her practice at the age of sixteen, Mollie has founded of her own brand of yoga, dance, massage, and reiki called Mendoza Movement. Mollie travels all over the continental U.S. and the world teaching yoga and dance to openhearted students. In September 2016, Mendoza Movement will be at Restival Arizona, and in October 2016, Mollie will be working a yoga retreat in India. You can learn more about Mollie’s practice at instagram.com/mendozamovement.