Many of us live busy lives. We have work and family commitments and do our best to find time to hang with friends and do some self-care. Juggling these busy schedules often leads to stress and tension. You may think you have it all together until you take a moment to stop, relax and breathe. Then you realize how much stress you really are under. In this blog, I will review five of of my favourite yoga poses you can do each day to reduce your levels of stress and enhance your overall health and well-being.
Too often when I talk to people about yoga they immediately say, “I have no balance.” Or, “I’m not flexible so I can’t do yoga.” The truth is, anyone can do yoga. You don’t need the best strength, or the best flexibility or balance to practice.
Unfortunately, the western world has turned the traditional practice of yoga, which originated in India, into some sort of fashion show, where people feel they must wear the latest yoga clothes. Or, physical competition to see who can push themselves into the hardest pose and withstand the hottest room. This is not yoga.
Yoga simply means coming together or union of the body, mind and spirit. There are many different ways a person can practice yoga. In its most simple form practicing yoga could simply mean being kind and serving others. This practice is called Karma Yoga. Or, you may simply choose to find stillness and silence, focus on your breath and meditate for a few minutes each day. It’s as simple as that. Yoga is not about how you look. It’s about about how you feel when you’re doing it.
Developing a regular practice of yoga has many benefits. One being that it helps the body and mind release stress and focus on positive thoughts. To reduce stress there are many yoga poses that will help. My favourite poses come from a restorative yoga practice. Restorative yoga is a passive stretch style of yoga where you use props to support your body and rest in comfortable positions. This style helps the body release tension in the muscles and connective tissue of the body and allows you to find stillness of the body to calm the mind.
My five favourite poses that you can do daily to reduce stress and tension are:
Promotes a sense of inner calm, peace and serenity. Reduces stress and physical and mental exhaustion. Opens hips and lengthens spine.
Sit in a cross-legged position with one foot in front of the other. Place hands palms down, or palms up on the knees or lap. Sit tall in the spine. Close the eyes, relax the body and hold for as much time as you have. Ideally, five minutes or more.
This pose helps to reduce stress and renew blood and lymph drainage back to the heart area.
Sit with your hops against the wall then swing your legs and lie down on the mat. Be sure to keep your hips as close to the wall as you can. If your sacrum (base of spine) or lower back lift off the mat, then place a small block or pillow under the sacrum for support. Close the eyes, relax the body and hold for as much time as you have. Ideally, five minutes or more.
It is advised to avoid this posture if you have glaucoma as it can build pressure in the head.
Supported Back Bend
Helps to relieve tension and stress, improves breathing and posture and lengthens abdominal muscles.
Place short edge of bolster, or firm pillow, against the hips and low back. Using your hands for support gently lower yourself so the length of the spine rests on the bolster. Allow your legs to rest straight out on the mat at hop distance or more apart or with feet together and knees out wide in butterfly. Arm rest to the side of the body with palms open. Close the eyes, relax the body and hold for as much time as you have. Ideally, five minutes or more.
Supported Child’s Pose
This pose will help to quiet the mind and relieve tension. Supports the nervous and lymphatic systems.
Start on hands and knees. Place bolster, or firm pillow lengthwise, under your body. Place knees on either side and allow hips to rest towards the feet allowing your torso to rest on the bolster. Allow head to rest on either side. Close the eyes, relax the body and hold for as much time as you have. Ideally, five minutes or more.
Emphasizes total relaxation and puts body at ease. Triggers a state of deep rest that slows breathing rate, lowers blood pressure and quiets the nervous system.
Lie flat on your back with your legs straight out on the floor about hip distance apart. Arms straight by your sides, but not touching your body, with the palms up. You may choose to place a bolster or pillow under the knees to support the low back. Close the eyes, relax the body and hold for as much time as you have. Ideally, five minutes or more.
When you develop a regal yoga practice, or simply practice these postures on a daily basis, You will notice a significant reductio in your stress levels. You will find you’re better able to deal with the stress of life that comes your way and you will feel happier and healthier.
If you prefer to practice in a group setting to develop a sense of community with others I encourage you to join us for a class. Please CLICK HERE to view class schedule and rates.
Until next time,
Rachel Joy Olsen, BSc., MBA
Plant-Based Nutrition Health & Wellness Coach, Yogi