While it’s totally natural to feel stress, it’s an unwelcome visitor for most brides, leading to everything from breakouts and weight gain to sleep problems and muscle tension. That’s why it’s so important to incorporate de-stressing activities, such as meditation and yoga, into your day-to-day wedding-planning routine. Not only is yoga an excellent, time-effective way to combat stress, but it also helps with things like your posture, your connection to yourself and what’s really important to you (important to keep in mind when planning a wedding) as well as your ability to be present, which may well be the most important point when it comes to wedding day, explains Tiffany Cruikshank, yoga instructor and founder of Yoga Medicine®. Since no bride wants to stress or slouch on her wedding day, here are some of the yoga poses that promise to help you get altar-ready in no time.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
If you’re looking to improve your posture while strengthening your upper body, make cobra your go-to pose. It not only strengthens your back and shoulders, but it’s also great for increasing blood circulation and range of motion in the upper back. From your belly, Cruikshank recommends beginning with your hands on the floor under your shoulders. “On an inhale press down through your legs as you curl your shoulders and upper back away from the floor,” she says. “Stay for 2 to 3 deep breaths and then slowly lower and repeat.”
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
This pose might be fairly simple—it pretty much involves standing upright, with your hands reaching for the sky—but it works wonders for your posture. “This pose stacks the bones correctly and maintains the natural curves of the spine, imprinting balance and symmetry and creating a sense of stability,” says Gretchen Lightfoot, yoga instructor at Goorus Yoga in Palisades, California. No matter your height, she promises Mountain Pose will leave you looking instantly taller and slimmer. Start standing tall, with your big toes together and heels slightly apart. “ ‘Shrug up’ through the ankles, calves, and thighs so that the legs are active, and lengthen your tailbone to the ground, drawing your belly up and in,” says Lightfoot. “Draw your shoulders back, keep your neck long, and your chin parallel to the floor."
Chair Pose (Utkatasana)
This pose is excellent for your hips, knees, low back, and your overall posture. Stephanie George, certified yoga instructor and personal trainer, recommends starting with feet placed together and your hands on your hips. “On an exhale sit your hips back like you're sitting in a chair, so your legs are bent at 90 degrees,” she says. “Keep the soles of the feet planted firmly on the floor; your arms either palms together over your heart, or up by your ears with fingers reaching towards the ceiling; and your chest lifted.”
Tree Pose (Vrksasana)
Just as it sounds, this pose involves you standing upright with your hands at heart’s center, and one leg bent at the knee and pulled in closely to your groin area. “Tree pose strengthens your feet and forces you to have good posture in order to maintain your balance,” says George. Start standing with your feet under your hips. Roll your shoulders away from your ears and place your hands on your hips. “Lift your left foot and press the sole of your foot underneath your left knee,” she says. For a more advanced version, she suggests pressing the sole of your left foot against your inner right thigh. “Grow tall through the crown of your head and slowly lower your left leg before switching sides.”
Locust Pose (Salabhasana)
Not only does this pose improve posture, but it will also help give you killer back muscles that you can flaunt in your stunning wedding gown. To execute this pose, start laying flat on your stomach, with your hands by your sides. “On an inhale, gently reach your chest forward, looking down in front of you or about two inches ahead of you to keep the back of your neck long, and reach your hands behind you,” instructs Jenay Rose, wellness coach and influencer. “Your shoulder blades reach towards one another to strengthen your back and roll your shoulders back into their natural place, while your toes reach towards the back of the room, also lifting off the ground just an inch or two.” She suggests holding this pose for 10 seconds before releasing down. Repeat 3 times.
Plank Pose (Kumbhakasana)
Chances are, you’re not the biggest fan of this pose, which you might practice in a myriad of other exercises, from Pilates to boot-camps. Not only is plank great for building strength in the core, which contains the foundational muscles for improving posture, but it also strengthens your back and arms. “Start out in a tabletop position and extend your feet back, placing your hands directly under your shoulders,” instructs Rose. “There should be a perfect even line between the back of your neck going all the way down your back.” To engage the core, she suggests imagining that your belly button is reaching back towards your spine. Try to hold three planks for one minute each, twice a day, to get in tip-top wedding-day shape.