Wellness Series: Movements for Stress Release, Tips by Yoga Trainer Heidi Chen

Zoom fatigue is real… So is the muscle tightness our bodies are feeling from a year+ of working from makeshift home offices and all the changes our everyday lives are facing. Introducing our pal Heidi, kicking off the first of a new Wellness Series, giving you some tips and tools to release stress throughout your day, with simple yoga movements.

International Certified Yoga Trainer Heidi Chen with her dog on a mountain, taking a break while hiking

About Heidi

Heidi Chen is a certified yoga trainer in Ashtanga Vinyasa, for more than two decades, having followed yoga master Richard Freeman and Buddhism Zen master Jules Levison. She dedicates her practice to focusing specifically on the juncture of physical therapy, anatomy, spirituality and muscle and nerve systems. Heidi’s teaching has taken her to the Americas, Europe and South East Asia. Her recent interests are to explore the science about how spiral movement could create physical space in the muscle and nerve systems.  

Heidi is a keen animal lover and spends her time between Colorado, Taiwan and Mainland China. She is the proud friend of Solly, a happy black Labrador, who follows her in her global travels.

A long year for many...

For a lot of us, it has come and passed that one-year mark since we started turning our residential space into an office, a school, a playground, a cinema or an atelier. Some of us do it in solitude, some of us have had to learn to share space for an extended period of time.

Along this 12-month journey, we have also learned to establish new routines and demark our ‘territories’ along with the roles we take on, in limited space.  However, while we may have wrapped our heads around it, human bodies do not adapt that quickly. We may have been used to moving around the office to have that water cooler conversation, to pick up our loved ones, to get a sandwich at the corner deli… The mental perception of ‘claustrophobia’ can be exacerbated by this recent lack of micro movements the body craves.  

While finding time for a run or walk in the park is a great new routine during this difficult time, there are also simple and quick ways to create motion and eliminate that sense of blockage we may feel from being cooped up and behind the laptop screen.

We have recently been reconnected with our long-time yogi friend Heidi Chen, who practices ashtanga yoga, gyrokinesis and Zen Buddhism. Her unique approach and insights have led to a distinct spiral movement that creates physical space, and subsequently, opening of the mind.  

Introducing movements for stress release

Heidi has developed a simple ten-minute sequence to help recreate that flow of chi again, and to unwind the tense feeling in our lower back from sitting on that non-ergonomic-makeshift-office-chair of ours. We say simple because the SAPPHO team did try it out, and the movements ARE simple!

Motion creates emotions, and we are so happy to be connected with Heidi again. We hope you’ll enjoy this video from her we are about to share, made especially for you. Sprinkle movements sparingly throughout your day and let us know what you think!



Here is a recap of the stress release movements Heidi suggests:

  1. Standing arch and curl

What this does: Increase mobility of your spine and improve your posture 

  1. Standing figure 4

What this does: Helpful for those with tight hips or suffering from sciatic pain. 

  1. Thread the needle, on your all fours

What this does: Increase mobility in the chest and lower back, for those with lower back pain it’s particularly helpful.

  1. Yawning Psoas muscle stretch

What this does: The psoas muscle tends to hold a lot of our emotions, so we try to ‘open’ up our hips and lower back in this sequence.


Heidi Chen wearing a felt hat smiling at the camera

Heidi Chen is a Certified Yoga Trainer in Ashtanga Vinyasa, currently living in Taipei (Taiwan). Her practice focuses on the juncture of physical therapy, anatomy, spirituality and muscle and nerve systems. Follow her on Instagram @heidi.chen.yoga or subscribe to her Youtube channel for more.