Kristin McGee is celebrity yoga and Pilates teacher and author of “Chair Yoga: Sit, Stretch, and Strengthen Your Way to a Happier, Healthier You” (HarperCollins, January 17, 2017). She is also one of our 2017 Influencers. Kristin was recently featured in a TIME article about yoga and the workplace. Since yoga and mindfulness is one of our favorite subjects, ToeSox got together with Kristin McGee to learn more of her valuable insights and tips.
ToeSox: If you could only do one yoga pose or exercise everyday, which would it be and why?
Kristin: I always say a Down Dog a day keeps the doctor away. I absolutely love to stretch out and strengthen my entire body. Downward Dog works the arms, legs, and core while stretching out the hamstrings, shoulders, and waist. It is also a gentle inversion, which brings blood flow to the brain. Breathing deeply through the nose while in the pose is meditative and incredible for the body as well.
With a whole new year ahead of us, what is the ONE thing we should all stop and ONE thing we should all start?
We should stop criticizing ourselves. As a new mom of newborn twins and a toddler, it is so hard to get everything done. I used to get so down on myself and now I have learned to cut myself some slack. I think a little meditation is something everyone should incorporate into his or her lifestyle and the health benefits are enormous. We all need to stay more connected to others and ourselves and learn to be present in the moment.
From your new book Chair Yoga, what 3 POSES CAN WE DO AT OUR DESK that will improve productivity?
- Prayer Hands up the back – This pose opens up the lungs and front of the body, which is usually slumped forward at our desk. When we press the palms together or grab the opposite elbow (if shoulders are too tight), we remind ourselves to breathe and stay open.
- Chair Twist – Twists are great for resetting our mood or focus when we are feeling stagnant. They help us gain a new perspective and are wonderful for the lower back, hips, waist, and shoulders. They also strengthen our core and help with posture.
- Ankle to Knee – Our hips are like the basement of our house and we store a lot of junk in the trunk! It’s great to release the hips and lower back and get rid of any garbage down below. The hip opener is great for boosting energy and productivity as well.
Any advice for people with long daily commutes or stuck at a computer all day?
Move as often as you can. Set an alarm on your computer or phone to remind you to do some movement every hour. If you’re on a train, plane, or sitting in a doctor’s office for example, don’t be embarrassed to keep your body moving. I do Eagle Arms, Side Leans, and Forward Hang when I am traveling. Keep breathing deeply and get up to do some standing Chair Yoga poses as well. This will help boost your energy.
What should we do if we have trouble getting started in the morning and get stuck mid-afternoon? Any tips for enhancing energy?
- Tree Pose is wonderful. Stand next to your chair and plant one foot flat while placing the other foot on the upper inner thigh. Press your hands in prayer and work on your balance. Starting the day off with a grounding pose or using this pose when you’re stuck in a rut is super helpful. You can also do kapalabhati breath rapid exhalations out the nose while keeping the mouth closed, like stoking a fire.
What do you think is the #1 reason employees’ burnout? Any tips on how to mindfully reconnect?
I think people look at their jobs as work. We need to reframe our attitude and realize we are all a part of something bigger. What we do each day serves a purpose. Instead of thinking “I have to do this or that,” rephrase your thoughts to, “I get to participate in this amazing world and give my talents to it.” I also think we lose sight of our body and our mind being connected. Our issues are in our tissues and if we ignore our achy body, our mind will suffer. We need to use our breath to unite the body and mind. It is important to understand the connection between our mind, body, and spirit. We also let our circumstances control our mood. Remember that we are the captains of our own ship and we can’t control how the breeze may blow or the waters may flow, but we can control how we steer.
Learn more about Kristin McGee by visiting her website kristinmcgee.com.