Yoga is an ancient practice that originated in India about 5000 years ago. It calms and balances your mood and gently stretches all your muscles to help maintain strong bones, bring balance to your posture, and encourages you to breathe deeply. Yoga is something everyone can learn to do to help with stress management in today’s busy stressful lifestyle.
The Stress-Free Three
To help calm your mind and relax your body to relieve stress these three poses are good to learn and practice regularly.
1. Downward Facing Dog
Downward facing dog is a very basic pose, sometime called a resting pose. While it appears to be very simple, there is a technique to it and done properly it has many health benefits, one of which is helping you with stress management.
Downward facing dog is deceptively challenging and requires some strength. To do it properly, place your palms on the floor in front of you, fingers spread and palms pressing into the floor. Hands should be in line with wrist, and in line with shoulders. Step your legs back one at a time keeping your feet in line with your hands. Make sure to keep your elbows straight as you press your bottom toward the sky pressing your thighs back and up. Lower your heels to the floor (if you can; it may take a few attempts to increase your flexibility) and relax your head and neck. Try holding the position for at least 30 seconds to begin with and gradually increase that over time. Remember to always breathe through the nose.
Downward facing dog helps to manage stress by:
- Clearing your head, literally and figuratively. You need to focus on form and stop fretting about your to-do list. The inverted position will also help open up nasal passages to allow you to breathe more deeply. Oxygen-rich blood will rush to your brain and help you think more clearly.
- This pose helps strengthen bones, tighten the core and increase flexibility. It will improve your posture and start ridding you of the little aches and pains that come with slumping at a desk all day, rushing around doing errands and tensing up with everyday stress. These little pains increase your stress level, even though you may not be conscious of them.
- Improves your appearance: he effect is temporary, but the rush of blood to your brain and face will give your complexion a healthy glow. Often we feel as good as we look.
2. Child’s Pose
This is another basic yoga pose also known as a resting pose. It requires no props and is easy for anyone to do.
Assume child’s pose by getting down on your hands and knees, in a table posture. Lean back on your heels then extend your arms forward and lower your torso and head to the ground. Keep your forehead on the ground, keeping your neck relaxed. Press your palms into the floor in front of the body as you rest your bottom on your heels. Hold the position for at least 30 seconds, gradually increasing that time. Remember to breathe.
Child’s pose is a great way to manage stress because it helps relax your body so you can focus on your breathing to calm the mind. While you relax you are gently stretching your back, neck and shoulders, where stress tends to manifest itself as tension in the muscles. Having your eyes facing the floor makes it easier to block out the outside world and help you relax your body. It is natural for your stomach to press into your thighs and your hips to spread a bit. This has the benefit of helping with digestion and increased flexibility in the hips. If this is difficult, try spreading your knees outward, toward the sides of your mat. Relax.
3. Legs Up Wall
This is a very simple pose with great mental and physical health benefits. Most anyone can do it with very little practice. This is a calming pose that is especially good to do at the end of the day to aid in falling asleep.
To get into the pose correctly, find a clear space against a wall and sit down pressing your hip against the wall so that you are facing sideways. Slowly rotate your body so that your back relaxes to the floor and your legs are pointing straight up resting against the wall. Your bottom does not have to be touching the wall but should only be a few inches away from it. Relax your arms at your side, while you focus on taking slow deep breathes. That’s it!
As you rest, blood will begin to drain out of tired swollen feet and legs and return to the core where it can be recycled with a fresh infusion of oxygen. You will be gently stretching the back of your legs (hamstrings), which tend to get tight after sitting all day.
Legs-up-wall pose is very good for quieting the mind. You can stay in this pose for quite some time (10 to 15 minutes) to practice deep even breathing without needing a break. It helps calm the nervous system, aids in digestion and helps tired legs and feet to feel refreshed. It is especially pleasing to feel the rush of blood back into your lower legs and feet when you leave the pose and stand back up, slowly.
These three poses are a good way to help with stress management even when you don’t have a lot of time. Slowly increase the time you hold each pose and enjoy the mental and physical benefits.