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Health & Beauty

Yoga Break: Ti Kuan Yin Tree

Enhance your tea drinking with a simple yoga practice.
Enhance your tea drinking with a simple yoga practice.

Yoga is amazing.

There's just nothing like that feeling of...

"Ahhhh."

A great release of breath and all the stress that goes with it. Did you realize that you were holding so much in?

The sensation is just like brewing a good cup of tea.

We'll start off with a basic yoga pose, and a basic oolong tea.

 Vrkasana, or Tree Pose.
Vrkasana, or Tree Pose.

Meet Vrkasana, aka Tree Pose. This modified crane stance should be familiar to video game fans, or anyone who's ever picked up a Wii U — the trainer character uses it in Wii Fit and Smash 4 with abandon. Otherwise, you'll recognize it from every yoga page ever. (Even Lululemon mannequins do it.)

Now shake hands with Ti Kuan Yin. Don't get tripped up if you ever find it spelled Ti Guan Yin, Tiguanyin, Tieguanyin, Tikuanyin, Tiekuanyin, Ti Quan Yin, Tiequanyin, or Tiquanyin — it's still the same leaves. This tea is vegetal and soothing, so it pairs up well with the "Stop, pause, reset," of a good Tree.

Okay, now that we're all friends, let's get downward doggy with it.

Yoga Break: Tree Pose

Take off your shoes and socks. (But leave the socks on if your floor is freezing. Yoga is no good if you don't have any circulation!) Prepare the hot water, tea, and mug of your choice. The tea utensils here should be as simple as possible — the last thing you want to worry about when practicing something new is managing new equipment on top of it.

As you prep, start feeling out your hips, ankles, all the way into your heels and extending through the big toe. These are your stabilizers, say hello to them!

Steep your Ti Kuan Yin according to the instructions, roughly 2-3 minutes.

As soon as the leaves are safely submerged, press your hands together at your sternum and raises your right leg. If the leg can only go as high as your ankle, this is fine. If you want to take it right into your knee or upper thigh, go for it. The same way you adjust the tea to your preferred steep time and strength, dial the pose to your ability.

Lengthen through the standing leg, securing yourself from deep within your core, into the bottoms of your feet. Hold for 10 seconds on each side, until the tea is ready.

Breathe and sip.

How was that?

The extra breathing relaxes the throat and opens up your ribcage, so that by the time you're standing comfortably on the ground again like a regular human being, you'll find that the tea tastes even better.

It's not magic, it's physiology: better breathing = better circulation = better brain function = better ability to enjoy the heck out of your tea.

Plus, your toes will thank you for the attention. They were probably feeling neglected down there, it was high time you showed them some love.

Cheers.