6 Yoga Poses for Stress Relief

[contributor, online wellness blog, published april 2019]

All too often the demands of our busy lives leave us feeling stressed. Your emails are piling up, your phone is blowing up, and everyone seems to need a piece of your attention.

At the end of the day, it’s all just overwhelming.

Not only does stress deplete your energy levels, but it also takes a toll on your body. Stress triggers a “flight or fight” response which can cause a spiked heart rate, short quick breaths, and muscle tension. After a while, these effects take their toll and can leave you feeling tense and exhausted.

Knowing how to relieve this stress is important, and according to the Mayo Clinic the mind-body practice combined with physical poses from yoga can help reduce stress, lower blood pressure, and lower your heart rate.

So which yoga poses will help relieve stress? 

Supported Belly Twist: In this yoga pose, the nervous system is grounded and the internal organs are completely supported. Melissa Okabe, a yoga instructor based in Los Angeles also adds that “the heart is held both physically and emotionally, creating a sense of safety and calm.

Additionally, on the physical level, this pose is beneficial as it lengthens the low back, nourishes the spine, encourages digestion.”

My Fitness Pal Blog by Under Armour

Wake Up Better: 4 Stretches to Start Your Day



If you prefer more of a meditative start to your day, try this stretching workout that incorporates lots of breathing will help clear your mind.

“Start in a crossed-legged position. If your knees are much higher than your hips or if you’re uncomfortable in this position, use blankets under your hips to elevate your hips. Rest your hands on the top of your thighs and find a tall, lengthened spine. Close your eyes and begin to focus on your breath. Smooth inhales and exhales relax the nervous system and focus energy inward. Stay in this position for about 10 breaths. “

— Melissa Okabe, yoga instructor


Cleansing Morning Stretch

[Syndicated by Sporfits, Online Blog, Published Feb 2019]

If you wake up groggy and feel like a zombie as you go through your a.m. routine, stretching might turn you into a morning person. These stretching workouts could help wake you up and set a healthy tone for the day.

If you prefer more of a meditative start to your day, this stretching workout that incorporates lots of breathing will help clear your mind.

“Come to a table-top position with your hands under your shoulders; knees under hips. Spread wide through the fingers, hug your naval in slightly. On an inhale, draw your chest between your arms (cow pose), exhale, scoop the belly and round the back (cat pose). Move with your breath, and do cat-cow 5–10 times.

— Melissa Okabe, yoga instructor

inspirations and celebrations

9 Wellness Experts’ Tips on Creating a Healthier Lifestyle

[contributor, online magazine, published january 2019]

With so many people committing to New Year’s resolutions right now, it’s the perfect time to talk about ways we can all create a healthier lifestyle. From diet and exercise advice to self-care and meditation practices, today’s wellness guide shares 9 expert tips from Doctors, healthy lifestyle authors, Psychiatrists, and other wellness practitioners on how to create a healthier lifestyle.  While you might be thinking about a complete lifestyle overhaul, sometimes the best ways to create a healthier lifestyle are by taking small steps over a long period of time. Rather than going on another crash diet or over-exerting yourself at the gym this month, if you truly want to make a big change in your life, you’re more apt to stick with your New Year’s resolutions is you adopt small, but significant, lifestyle changes. The key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle is to make it a part of your daily routine. 

“ Practice Gratitude

While eating good foods and exercising regularly are essential for living a healthier lifestyle, developing positive internal habits is equally as important. That’s why practicing gratitude not only will improve your attitude, it can also boost your sense of wellness.

Melissa Okabe, a Yoga Instructor in Los Angeles, California recommends practicing gratitude on a daily basis. She says, “Journaling about the things you are grateful for each day can help to actively focus your mind on the positive things that you have. Instead of ruminating on the bad things that happen to you in your day, or wishing things were different- this exercise helps to bring a perspective that there is always something to be grateful for in your day. When we approach life with a mindset of gratitude- it can enhance the feelings of joy and contentment in our lives. “

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Making "Weird" Noises During Yoga Isn't Actually Weird At All & Here's Why, According To Experts

[Contributor, Online Magazine, Published November 2018]

So what is it about making sounds like groans, moans, lip trills, all of that "weird" stuff, that deepens the practice so much and changes the whole experience?

Personally, as a woman who often feels silenced and censored in her everyday life, being loud and unrestricted on my yoga mat feels thoroughly freeing; that's what keeps me coming back again and again. And the fact that I feel this way makes sense, says Melissa Okabe, a yoga instructor based in Los Angeles. "Making 'weird' noises is related to self expression, and self expression is associated with the fifth chakra (or throat chakra)," she tells Elite Daily over email. "Vocalizing your emotions via chanting, expressive breath, [or] speaking your truth, all stimulate this important energy center."

Okabe offers a simple reminder about what your yoga practice is really all about: "Yoga, at the end of the day, is a personal practice; it’s a journey inward, and each person’s practice and experience will be as unique as they are," she explains.

Ultimately, "the yoga room is a place of acceptance, non-judgment, [and] self exploration," Okabe tells Elite Daily. So the next time you're in class and taking a deep breath in, simply go for it and get loud on that exhale, girl. Who knows — you may even inspire your neighbor to do the same.

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Why Is Self Love Important?

[Contributor, Online Magazine, Published November 2018]

Do you love yourself? What does self-love mean? How do you show it? We asked 25 experts “Why is self-love important?” Below are 5 reasons why [Melissa Okabe, Yoga Instructor] believes is self-love so important:

#1. It helps prevent burnout.

Practicing self-care starts with slowing down and taking the time to take care of yourself from the inside out.

Too often in modern society, we can all get wrapped up in the hustle of our careers, family or social responsibilities, financial duties, and so much more.

It’s a rat-race to achieve, achieve, achieve.

However, along the way as we push forward without rest or time for reflection, “burn-out”, physical or emotional exhaustion can be experienced, and frustration and disappointment may occur when we don’t “achieve” what we are aiming for.

Authority Magainze

Yoga Instructor Melissa Okabe Spells Out 5 Ways to Improve Your Relationship with Tech, Including Doing an Act of “Analog” Self-Care Daily

[Full Feature Interview of melissa okabe by Dan Pannasch, online magazine, published september 2018]

I had the pleasure of interviewing Melissa Okabe, Los Angeles Yoga Instructor, Yoga Alliance RYT-500, and Yoga and Fitness Model. Melissa has been featured in Yoga Forma (A Visual Guide for the Spine and Low Back), contributed to numerous online wellness publications, and leads public, private, corporate yoga classes and workshops in the Los Angeles area. Melissa is hosting a Yoga and Wellness Retreat to the Big Island of Hawaii in October 2018, and hopes to grow her career internationally in 2019.

Can you share your top five ways people can improve mental wellness and create a healthy relationship with technology?

1) Do an Act of “Analog” Self-Care Daily: Yes, online retail therapy is a real thing, but what’s even better is turning that much deserved love and attention inward. So even instead of watching Netflix to “relax,” maybe try something that gets you into your body, your breath, and the present moment. A simple restorative yoga practice can do wonders for the central nervous system. ….

Read the Full Interview by Clicking the Button Below:


What the Heck Is Restorative Yoga? 

[contributor, national online magazine, published september 2018]

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, a break that allows you to stop the internal and external chatter and rest your body is a welcome relief. Those who practice restorative yoga find such relief—and much more.

What is restorative yoga? Derived from the teachings of well-known yoga instructor and author, BKS Iyengar, restorative yoga heals the body from the inside out, according to restorative yoga instructor Melissa Okabe.

“Restorative yoga features gentle stretches using a variety of props to support and hold the body in myriad subtle shapes to gently open, lengthen and encourage relaxation in the body, including the nervous system,” says Okabe.

Who can benefit from restorative yoga? “Restorative yoga is appropriate for all levels, and is a very nourishing, replenishing type of yoga that can benefit any person, physically and emotionally,” says Okabe. “After a session, many people find they have increased energy.”…

Read Full Article by Clicking the Button Below:

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5 Great Yoga Poses to Do During your Period

[Contributor, Women’s Health Blog, Published September 2018]

Sometimes our periods make us want to do nothing but sit immobile on the couch with a heating pad and a full Netflix queue. But moving around a bit — and working on your yoga moves, specifically — can actually alleviate some of your symptoms.

With that in mind, we went straight to some yoga pros for their favorite mid-period poses. Here’s what’s on the top of their list, so you can spend a little more time in class on these — or do them at home whenever you need some relief.

Reclining Bound Angle Pose / Supta Buddha Konasana
You had us at “reclining.” But there’s a lot more to this pose, the pros say. “Reclining Bound Angle Pose activates the groin and allows for deep relaxation. Let gravity take over in this pose as it naturally eases symptoms of menstruation discomfort and recharges the mind,” recommends Brooke Blocker of Blocker Yoga. She’s not the only fan of the relaxing pose. Melissa Okabe, a yoga instructor in Los Angeles, agrees. “Not only does this supportive yoga pose replenish low energy and opens the hips, but also encourages circulation to the pelvic region,” Okabe says. “It helps to relieve menstrual cramps because it calms the nervous system and promotes the downward flow of energy naturally occurring in the body during a woman’s cycle. “…

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The 10 Best Yoga Props You Will Actually Use- Written by Julie Badwin-Davis

[Contributor, Online National Magazine, Published September 2018]

“Like any wellness practice, restorative yoga features helpful products. “In a pinch, you can use household items like pillows and blankets as props,” says restorative yoga instructor Melissa Okabe. “The following products make the restorative yoga process more enjoyable and even easier.”

Read more to learn Melissa’s recommendations for 10 must-have restorative yoga products.”


How To Integrate Exercise Into Your Routine – No Matter How Busy You Are

[Contributor, wellness blog, published september 2018]

#20: Schedule in your exercise time in advance

“If you like to take group fitness classes [like Yoga Classes] or work with a private trainer or coach, book recurring classes at the start of the month so that time remains blocked off for you in advance. If you are working out on your own, still treat it like an important appointment with yourself- add it to your calendar as you would any other important meeting and hold yourself accountable.”

- Melissa Okabe from


Recommendations on Yoga Props

[Contributor, via Julie Baldwin’s Article in Parade Magazine, Published September 2018]

Like any wellness practice, restorative yoga features helpful products. “In a pinch, you can use household items like pillows and blankets as props,” says restorative yoga instructor Melissa Okabe. “The following products make the restorative yoga process more enjoyable and even easier.”…


10 More Women Share Their Favorite Daily Self-Care Tips

[Contributor, wellness blog, published august 2018]

#8: Meditate And Do Yoga

“To decompress and calm the senses, I schedule out at least 5 minutes a day to sit in stillness and meditation: Focus on smooth and deep inhalations and exhalations, and observe any thoughts in the mind without judgment. Try not to get attached to these thoughts; let them pass. If you get distracted, count your in breaths and your out breaths (for example, inhale for a count of four, then exhale for a count of six).

“To re-energize and promote circulation, try 10-15 minutes (to begin with) of the hatha yoga practice (such as sun salutations, warrior poses, cool down stretches, and savasana). To replenish the mind, body, and heart, I’d also recommend restorative yoga (such as legs-up-the-wall, supported heart opening on bolster/ blocks, etc.).Try 10-15 minutes (to begin with) — it’s as easy as setting a timer or playlist and letting your body melt into these nourishing and replenishing poses.” – Melissa Okabe, 30, yoga instructor

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How To Be More Content With What You Have

[Contributor, Online Magazine, Published august 2018]

#11: "Set a Daily Intention of Contentment/ Acceptance : It seems simple, but setting an intention for your day can largely impact how you perceive and react to situations that manifest around you. It is often said that energy flows where attention goes, meaning that our thoughts are powerful. So try this simple technique when you feel stressed or anxious - take a few deep breaths, close your eyes, repeat silently (or aloud) I fully accept what is, I let go of what is not, I am grateful for my life as it is, I am content and at peace. Repeat as many times as needed until your anxiety has passed." - Contributors: Melissa Okabe from Melissa Okabe Yoga

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5 Benefits of Daily Meditation and How to Get Started

[Contributor, Online Fitness Magazine, Published July 2018]

If you want to feel optimistic, focused, and rested, it’s time to start meditating a little bit every day. Here are five benefits of daily meditation and how to get started.

1) It can reduce stress, anxiety, and chronic pain.

“Finding stillness in mediation provides an opportunity to slow down, to focus on our deep and mindful breath, and for our brains to relax,” says yoga instructor Melissa Okabe. “In doing so, daily mediation can help to reduce anxiety and stress. Imprinting positive habits of a meditative state provides a calm foundation to return to on the onset of stress. [It] promotes a less reactive approach even in stressful situations.”


People Tell Us the Unique, Interesting and Mundane Places They've Meditated

[Expert Yoga Contributor, Published July 17, 2018]

Every day we find ourselves in different environments. Some of these environments are unique, some are ordinary. We could be on vacation, at home, at the office, commuting through the city...all of these present moments of peace, distractions, stress, fun, fear and so much more. These special moments present an opportunity to focus on all kinds of different sounds, images or feelings, but it’s completely up to you to allow yourself to concentrate and focus your mind.

We figured with all that meditating, people must be tuning in at some pretty unique and interesting places! So, we asked yogis, meditation experts and experienced adventurers to share their unique and inspiring experiences about where they’ve meditated. Here's what they said:

On Top of a Cruise Ship

The most interesting place I've meditated was on top of an open air deck on a moving Viking River Cruise Ship at sunrise. The river cruise experience is amazing, but being around so many people, like staff and other guests 24/7, can be a lot at times, so it was so nice just to have the morning to myself. To be still and meditating on a moving vessel was a unique experience, but ever so soothing with the soft splash of the water to the sides, and beautiful charming towns and natural open land on either side of the river bank.

-Melissa Okabe, yoga instructor of

American Bar Association Senior Lawyers Division

15 Ways Your Lifestyle Should Change as You Age 

Vol. 28 No. 2, By G.M. Filisko

[Contributor, April/ May 2018 Edition of Experience Magazine, Senior Lawyers Division of The American Bar Association] 

If you’re not already, start doing yoga. Los Angeles-area yoga instructor Melissa Okabe says the practice builds bone density, increases and maintains your flexibility, enhances balance, and helps reduce stress.

If you haven’t been doing yoga, she recommends starting with a beginner’s class. “Don’t overdo it or compare yourself to your neighbor,” she advises. “Yoga is a personal practice. Try to feel and listen to your body; don’t try to do what your neighbor may be doing in class.”

Use props, she adds. “Props such as blocks, blankets, straps, and bolsters are there to help your body attain proper alignment,” she explains. “That helps energy flow more optimally though your body and will help your body open up more quickly with consistent practice. And don’t be afraid to use a wall or chair for added support, especially if you’re struggling with balance in the beginning.”

Be sure to let your instructor know if you have any injuries or medical conditions, and don’t get discouraged if the first class feels hard. “You’re working new muscles that probably haven’t been lengthened or strengthened in the past,” explains Okabe....

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6 Most Common Yoga Injuries and How to Avoid Them

[Contributor, Online Fitness Magazine, Published March 15, 2018]

By now, you’ve heard all about the benefits of yoga: A regular yoga practice can lead to better sleep, lower stress levels, reduced blood pressure, and increased flexibility and strength. But, if you’re not careful, yoga can also cause injury, particularly to your wrists, lower back, shoulders, elbows, knees, hamstrings, and neck. In fact, a 2016 study discovered that yoga-related injuries have nearly doubled from 2001 to 2014. Our experts dive into the six most common yoga injuries. Here is how you can avoid them to get the most out of your time on the mat.... “Each person’s body and yoga journey is different,” says [Melissa] Okabe. “The goal of yoga isn’t to perform any given pose. It’s a mind-body experience that has the power to transform you from the inside out if you allow it.” ...

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Slumbr : Restorative Yoga For Deep Sleep

[Contributor, Online Article, Published, June 2017]:


Anxiety, stress and the tensions of the day can sit heavy with your body at night, preventing you from comfortably slipping into sleep. Yoga is a powerful practice for releasing these tensions -- particularly the gentle form of restorative yoga. Yoga has also been shown to combat insomnia. The good news is, you don’t have to be a super-bendy yogi or have practiced for years to get started.

To help you unwind, Slumbr teamed up with LA-based yoga instructors Kalina Salvador and Melissa Okabe to share 5 relaxing restorative yoga poses, using Slumbr’s Ara Buckwheat Pillow..... 


Yoga & Fitness Modeling  



Yogathology Shoot, Winter 2018

  • Fitness Model for Yoga Book

  • Published Spring 2018 : Spring 2017

  • Yoga Model for Online Yoga Videos

  • Main Instructor: Justin Timothy

Got Gym Lifestyle Shoot, Summer 2016

  • Fitness Model

  • Photo Credit: Douglas Vignon