You’ve had a rough day. Work was crazy and your boss demanding. Once at home, you have to run the kids here and there, bills need to be paid, laundry done, dinner cooked the list goes on and on. Exhaustion is the inevitable outcome of running at full throttle in this modern life. As we race to succeed or just survive, our mental state is crushed under the stress and strain. There a long list of self-destructive things people turn to for relief. There is a better way. Yoga is a great way to manage stress.
Yogic breathing is an integral part of how yoga reduces stress. Through rhythmic, deep breaths which are held and released for short or long counts, a relaxation response is triggered, causing stress hormones to be reduced, blood pressure to drop and endorphins are released that give a pleasurable feeling. There are yoga poses that are better at inducing this state of relaxation and relief from stress than others. This is a list of a few with a description of how to perform each one.
Child’s pose is done by coming down onto all fours, with fingers pointing straight ahead and knees spread a bit further apart than hip width. Touch your big toes together on the floor behind you as your feet point back away from you. Slowly sit back on your heels, letting your chest drop down between your knees toward the floor. Stretch your arms out in front of you, dropping your shoulders away from your ears. Let your forehead rest on the floor between your arms. Stay in this pose as you breath slowly for a few minutes. This pose is very restful and relaxing and a great way to take a break.
Standing Forward Bend
In standing forward bend, ground the feet, stretching out the toes. Relax your body as you stand tall and lengthen your spine up to the crown of your head. Inhale and exhale. As you exhale, bend forward and touch the ground with your hands, bring the palms to rest on the ground beside your feet. Bend your knees slightly to soften your stance and to assist you with putting your palms down. Continue to breath, going deeper into the stretch with each exhale. Allow your shoulders, neck, and head to relax and dangle. This pose is great for reducing stress. It may even help your blood pressure. In this pose, you can let go and feel tension pull away.
In this pose you begin by standing with your feet grounded and your spine tall. Draw your left arm in a right angle in front of you with your fingers pointing to the ceiling. Next, bring your right arm under and up, then twisting around so that your palms meet. Then, on your left leg, sit back. Draw your right leg up and cross it over your left. Tuck your foot behind your calf and hold this pose as you continue to breath in and out. Hold this for several full breaths. Then release. Repeat on the other side.
These are three of my favorite poses that have helped me with my stress levels. Practice them often and they will help bring your stress under control. The nice thing is, they can be performed almost anywhere at any time. Just take a moment to yourself and find out how well yoga can manage stress for you.