Breathe. Stretch. Repeat
Pre-wedding yoga to help calm you for the big day
At 9 a.m. on her wedding day, Allison Modafferi Brewster rolled out of bed and was surrounded by her closest female friends and family members. She stretched her calves. She helped her mother balance in a handstand. She laughed, cried, and took a few quiet moments to breathe deeply and focus on the meaning of the day. “I wanted everything in the weekend to be intentional and to commemorate the occasion,” she says. She started with a yoga class.
Modafferi Brewster is the studio director at Be Yoga in Dilworth. She knows how helpful it is to find a moment of calm before a life-altering, and sometimes stressful, occasion. So she asked her friend and fellow yoga teacher, Kellie Jackson Daniel, to lead a class on her wedding day—just as Modafferi Brewster had done when Jackson Daniel married a year earlier. The bride even wore a makeshift veil as she practiced, helping to set a mood that was “playful but also reverent.”
Whether or not you spend weeks strengthening and toning so you look great in your wedding dress, yoga can be helpful during the days immediately before, or on, the day of the ceremony. Modafferi Brewster suggests planning a class the day before the wedding to help out-of-town guests bond, or practicing a series of poses that ground you right before walking down the aisle.
“The goal of yoga is to tap into your most true and best self,” she says. “Of all days, wouldn’t you want to do that on your wedding day?”
If you regularly practice yoga and feel comfortable moving through a series of poses on your own, try this sequence provided by Allison Modafferi Brewster, studio director at Be Yoga in Dilworth. “It’s just a chance to honor and open your body and center and ground your energy in preparation for a full day,” she says.
1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
Stand tall, with your feet a few inches apart and parallel. Rest your arms beside your body and close your eyes, tuning into your breath. Soften your abdomen and jaw, allowing your breath to gently fill you up and empty you out. Enjoy five steady breaths. If you’re feeling particularly unsettled, place your hands on the top of your pelvic bones and press straight down. As you inhale, lengthen and brighten your torso, and as you exhale, envision your energy pouring downward, like liquid concrete filling your boots. Call in support from your bridesmaids, press down on each other’s hips, and you’ll all stand a little taller for the ceremony!
2. Prasarita Padottanasana (Wide Leg Forward Fold)
Step into a wide stance, feet parallel and as wide as your arm span. Interlace your fingers behind you and roll your shoulders back. Take a deep breath, broadening the expanse across your heart. Then lean forward, hinging at your hips, and let your head and neck relax downwards. Alternate lifting your knuckles toward the sky and then releasing your shoulders toward the earth. To come up, unclasp your hands and place them on your hips. Press down strongly through your heels and lift with your abs. Take a deep breath, and heel-toe your feet back together.
3. Trikonasana (Triangle)
Step into a wide stance, feet parallel and as wide as your arm span. Open your arms wide and turn your right toes out, perpendicular to your left foot. Keeping your legs straight, slide your hips to the left and reach your right hand out over your right toes. Hinging at your right hip, touch the floor beside your foot—or your ankle, whatever you can reach! Stretch up through your left hand, lengthen your spine, and turn your head to look skyward. Play with bending your right knee and then straightening that leg. With a big open-mouthed exhale, stretch your left side, extending your arm out over your head. With strong legs and a toned core, rise to standing. Repeat on the other side.
4. The Everything Bagel
I call this pose “The Everything Bagel” because it’s a hip opener, quad stretch, twist, and backbend combo. It’s also a great all-levels pose, since it has many variations and modifications. Begin in a lunge, with your right knee directly over your right foot. Rest your left knee on a blanket or towel. Come up high on your fingertips and inhale your spine long. With your exhale, lift your right hand toward the sky. Inhale and lengthen again, toning your abs, and then exhale as you gently twist toward your front leg. To go deeper into the hip, come to the outer edge of your right foot and allow your right knee to open to the side. Keep your foot flexed and your ankle strong, to protect your knee. Reach back with your right hand and catch your left foot, pulling it in toward your hip for a quad stretch or pressing it back for more of a backbend shape. Perhaps come down onto your left forearm. Pause to take it all in, and remember to breathe. Repeat on the other side.
5. Ardha Matsyeandrasana (Half Lord of the Fishes pose)
Sit up tall, perhaps on a folded blanket to support the curve and length of your low back. Bend your right knee out to the side, pulling your foot in toward your opposite hip. Bend your left knee, placing your foot on the floor in front of your right shin or on the outside of your right thigh. Pull in on your left knee with your right hand, and press your left fingertips down onto the floor behind you. Rise up tall with your inhale. On your exhale, twist toward your left knee. Lengthen with each inhale and gently twist with each exhale. Repeat on the other side. This sitting twist is centering, grounding, and cleansing.