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MILLICENT McKAY: 10 yoga poses to make you happy

Journalist Millee McKay - pictured with her feline companion Jinx -  shares some of her favourite yoga poses.
Journalist Millee McKay - pictured with her feline companion Jinx - shares some of her favourite yoga poses. - Millicent McKay

Some inspiration to add to your yoga routine to open your mind, heart and soul

Well hello there.

Welcome to an obligatory introduction: Millee, 23, Prince Edward Islander, practising yogi (by no means a professional) and curious person.

If you’ve made it this far, this is when I’d say you get a gold star (but in Oprah’s "you get a car" voice).

I practise yoga, usually daily if I can swing it. And while I’ve gone to less than a handful of yoga classes, I have found an app and YouTube contributor that I use as instructors.

Recently, following a what I would call a successful 30-day yoga challenge, I found myself feeling much more confident on my yoga mat. In short, I now feel able to build my own practice, find a flow, and let the moment dictate the transitions from pose to pose.

But when I find myself lacking inspiration, there a number of poses I return to that I know will lift my spirits – ya know, when "It’s not your week, your month or even your year. *clap clap clap clap*".

Next time you grab your mat, consider these poses to open your mind, heart and soul (all that fun stuff).

1. Reclined Butterfly

If I’m being honest, part of me loves this pose simply because of its name – I feel a connection to it. Laying on the mat, one hand on your heart, the other on your stomach, breathing in… and out… and…. Sorry, I got caught up in the moment. This pose allows for a stretch in your hamstrings and outer thighs while taking the pressure off of your back… all lovely stuff.

Extended butterfly is one of my favourite yoga poses. Melt into the earth with me during this pose.  - Millicent McKay
Extended butterfly is one of my favourite yoga poses. Melt into the earth with me during this pose. - Millicent McKay

2. Rag Doll:

Transitioning from reclined butterfly, head into a standing position, aka mountain pose. Then hinge and the hips, let the arms hang down and well, like the name, become a ragdoll. This pose always gives me a nice stretch right down my back. It’s delicious (funny how we really only use that descriptor to describe food, not a feeling). This is a pose that leaves me feeling like I’m floating. In thin air, dangling upside down, what have you.

Become Raggedy Anne with rag doll pose and get a nice stretch in your hamstrings when you hinge at the hips.  - Millicent McKay
Become Raggedy Anne with rag doll pose and get a nice stretch in your hamstrings when you hinge at the hips. - Millicent McKay

3 & 4. Extended Side Angle to an Easy Twist:

Staying on my feet, I like to transition into a pose that always seems to light up my quads and a fire within. I’m talking about extended side angle. Head into a lunge - front knee at a 90-degree angle, back leg extended. For explanation’s sake, let’s say the right leg is bent. In that case, rest the right elbow on the thigh, then raise left arm above and send it forward above – like your fingers are connecting through your arm, down your body and all the way down your leg into your heel. Then feel the burn. And oh, does it burn. Then, for some sweet relief, I transition into an easy twist. Lower one hand (in this case it would be the left) to the ground and then rotate to the right and raise the arm up to the sky for a nice stretch.

Sweet relief comes with the easy twist. - Millicent McKay
Sweet relief comes with the easy twist. - Millicent McKay

5. Chaturanga:

This may not be everybody’s favourite. I know I used to dread it when the instructor would say "take a vinyasa here" - meaning transition into chaturanga to up-dog. But since I’ve started noticing my strength build, I can’t help but feel happy when I take a vinyasa and nail it.

A model demonstrates the chaturanga pose. -123rf Stock Photo
A model demonstrates the chaturanga pose. -123rf Stock Photo

6. Upward Facing Dog:

Honestly, this reminds me more of upward-facing cat when my feline Jinx does her walking stretch (I tell you, it’s a sight). Anywhosen, this pose is one of my favourite chest and back openers. I feel like my rib cage opens up, and kinda corny, but so does my heart.

A model displays the upward-facing dog pose. -123rf stock photo
A model displays the upward-facing dog pose. -123rf stock photo

7. Camel Pose:

Ok, ya know that feeling where you’re sitting on the floor in class and you’re sitting on you’re knees and the teacher’s like, “sit on your butt.” Well, in this case, don’t sit on your butt. From your knees, raise up. Then slide your hands down your back like you’re sliding them into back pockets on some pants. In that process try to bring shoulder blades together. Then start to arch backwards. I’ve gotten to the flexibility point where I can bring my hands to my heels. I feel like I’m floating – especially if I bend backwards with my eyes open. It’s like that feeling when you’re dangling from the monkey bars upside down.

A models demonstrates the camel pose. -123rf Stock Photo
A models demonstrates the camel pose. -123rf Stock Photo

8. Bridge Pose:

Sticking with a good stretch in the back, the next pose on my happy list is the bridge pose. Laying back on the mat, feet flat on the ground – knees to the sky, inch your heels toward the butt. Then, raise your hips to the air, puff up your pelvis and abdomen. If comfortable, wiggle the shoulder under and clasp yo’ hands. Chin to the sky and voila, you’re a bridge. A rather steep one, but a bridge nonetheless.

A model demonstrates the bridge pose. -123rf Stock Photo
A model demonstrates the bridge pose. -123rf Stock Photo

9. Boat Pose:

OK, so you know how we lit a fire in our quads with extended side angle? Well, how about lighting a fire in our bellies with boat pose. Come to an easy seat, raise legs so knees are bent and shins come parallel to the floor. Now get ready to feel your inner self, and your core, shake. Your legs might tense up, you might want to arch your back rather than keeping it straight. But have no fear. It only gets worse.

A model demonstrates the boat pose. -123rf Stock Photo
A model demonstrates the boat pose. -123rf Stock Photo

10. Knees to Chest

(I don’t know the actual name, sue me): Bridges, boats, what’s next? Relief is next, my friends. It’s the final pose before I head into savasana (corpse pose – because you know, you look like a dead body…?) It’s the perfect end to a practice filled with poses that make ME happy.

Knees to chest - and relax! - 123rf Stock Photo
Knees to chest - and relax! - 123rf Stock Photo


There you have it. A flow that makes me happy. Now I’m not saying it will do the same for you, but hey, what can it hurt to try?

Until we meet again.

~M

Millee's Yoga Picks

Millicent McKay is a Summerside-based journalist for the Journal Pioneer. She likes yoga (obviously), playing with her cat, copious cups of tea, soap operas (who doesn’t) and blogging. For more content by Millicent head to www.theonewithpaigeandmillee.squarespace.com.

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