Bring a sense of calm to your day
You only need 10 minutes to help to reduce stress and bring calm to your mind.
I can hold my hands up and say that my opinion on Yoga was misguided up until 2018. I was always of the belief that Yoga was for women and was more about getting into funny positions. Well, I was wrong. Yoga has so many benefits, and the one that I benefit from myself whenever I do a session is the stress relief aspect that it brings.
Yes, if you are flexible you can get yourself into some impressive looking poses but for me the true benefit of Yoga comes in its ability to slow everything down. From a physiological perspective this is so important in a world full of stress. Studies have shown that Yoga benefits mental health, reduces your stress by instilling a sense of calm, and can reduce irritability in those who practice it regularly.
It works by engaging your mind to slow your body down. This means lower blood pressure, decreased heart rate, less stress hormones, and increased oxygen into your lungs – according to Harvard Medical School.
So, which postures can you do? If you are like me then you will want something that is simple but effective to do. These following five poses can be done in one workout or if you are short on time you can choose just one and use it to calm your mind to whatever is bringing you stress. My recommendation is to do each pose for 1-2 minutes, and ensuring you draw your focus to your breath whilst relaxing your muscles.
Here are the five poses I advocate for stress relief:
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
This is a quieting pose, making it a great place to start. Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place feet flat on the ground. Then drop your knees out wide with the soles of your feet touching so your legs form a diamond. Place one hand on your heart and the other on your belly. Feel your heartbeat slow down. This takes you out of your mind to what’s giving you anxiety.
Seated Forward Bend
Sit on the floor with your legs stretched out straight in front of you. Keeping your torso long (keep your chest up and try to keep your back straight), fold forward and reach for your toes. Reach as far as you can without shaking or being uncomfortable. If your hands can make it to your knees or shins, rest your hands on your legs and stay there for a minute. As you exhale try to to reach a little bit further each time.
Stand with your feet slightly apart. Keep arms at your sides, with face palms facing forward. Raise arms up above your head toward the sky and then slowly reach your arms back, arching your back and opening up your chest. Each day you do this, you may find that your chest is able to open more and more. Fold forward to reach toward your toes. Hold for a few breaths at the top of the pose and then in the forward bend. Be careful with this one if you have any back problems as this can aggravate the problem.
Supine Half Pigeon
This pose helps you release tightness in your glutes. Lie on your back and bring knees up toward your chest. Fold your right leg, so that your heel rests on the left knee and your right knee sticks out to the side. Reach behind your left leg and pull toward you. You should feel a stretch in your glute/hamstring.
Legs Against The Wall
This is a great grounding and calming pose because all it asks you to do is lie with legs elevated up a wall and rest. To do it, sit with your right side against a wall. Lie down, then pivot your body toward the wall and swing your legs up the wall so they’re resting against it. Lie on a mat if that’s more comfortable and feel free to put a pillow or blanket under your head for comfort. Also consider placing a folded blanket under your lower back to support your spine or one under your neck if it makes the position more comfortable.
Remember to take time during this routine to engage with your body. Focus on deep calm breathing and feel the stress leave your body. Stress can be one of the biggest obstacles you will face to living a healthy and happy life. This is one effective way of managing that stress so that it doesn’t overwhelm you.
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