Yoga for relaxation and stress relief
Yoga has been practiced for centuries, it focuses on strength, flexibility, balance and breathing to enhance your well being.
For relaxation and stress relief Hatha yoga style would be the most suitable as it combines the use of stretching exercise with breathing exercises or pranayama as it is called. There are lots of types of yoga breathing and it will take a while to master, but it is easy to start with and you don't need any special equipment or clothing. You should dress with loose comfortable clothes and take a blanket for the relaxation at the end.
For a beginner it is best to join a class to start with, as the teacher will help you to get your poses correct and to learn the breathing exercises. Which once learned can be done at home, some can even be practiced at work without anyone particularly noticing, and can be very useful to de-stress at work if having a bad day, or in a stressful situation. You will learn to be calmer and more self controlled. Also you will start to sit better at your desk, yoga does help with posture, which will help you to breath better and in turn you will start to feel better as your body is getting the oxygen in needs.
You don't need to be fit or flexible to start with, you don't push yourself, there is no need to over stretch, which is beauty, anyone can do yoga and benefit from doing it. Everyone in a class stretches to their own ability, there should be no competition it is for you to know what your limits are and only push further if that is what you feel is right for you.
Yoga can help to lower blood pressure so is beneficial for lowering high blood pressure and studies have shown yoga is also helpful in reducing heart disease and low back pain, to name but a few.
You can do just a few stretches a day and use the relaxation poses to help you relax after a long day, which will if practiced regularly will reduce stress and improve body tone and fitness.
Yoga slows you down, you stop in your busy day, take time to breathe, take quite time for yourself. Most classes start with a bit of a time out relaxation, basically to stop and adjust to slowing down, then the yoga poses, finishing with relaxation. This part the teacher will do a few breathing techniques to induce the relaxation process to start and then will talk you though taking time to relax your body. This takes about 10 minuets and afterwards you feel refreshed and relaxed, it is a great way to reduce any stress in your body.
You will walk slower, and seem to have more time to think clearly. When I do not have a lesson I truly miss it.
Calm the mind
Yoga poses for relaxing the mind
You will first need to calm your mind ready for relaxation. There are a few poses which will help you do this, they are not difficult and you do what feels comfortable for you, just remember to breathe!
Before you start, stand straight and still, look ahead and be aware that your shoulders are down and back, your head and neck straight. let your feet be planted firmly onto the ground. Close your eyes and take in about three deep breaths, try to breathe all the way down into the lungs, filling them as much as possible and then slowly breathing the air out again, not hurried or rushed. Take your time and then try the Tree pose.
Stand up straight, Mountain pose, and calm your mind, shift your weight to the left leg and bring the right foot, sole side to the side of your left leg, as far up the leg as you wish, either below the knee or above it is up to you, bring your hands to pray position, find your balance and stand for 10 full, slow breaths. Your gaze should be forward. Bring the right leg back down to the floor.
Don't worry if you wobble, it will come and your balance will get better.
Now repeat with the other leg
What you are trying to achieve here is the leg that has to sole against the side of the other leg, you should be gently pushing your knee back to open up your pelvis, of cause you will need to get your balance before perfecting the pose, so don't worry too much about it.
This pose improves balance and straightens the thighs, calves and ankles. It is said to help reduce flat feet too.
It is a nice simple pose will help to just balance and focus the mind.
Sit on the floor and release you neck, sit up straight, but not stiff. bend you head to your left shoulder for about 30 seconds, then repeat bending towards the right shoulder.
Sit then hugging your knees and press your chin towards the throat, and move your shoulders down. Hold for about 30 seconds and then look upwards and bend your neck back.
Roll your head round starting at the front and roll all the way around your neck and back to the front, then repeat the opposite way. Repeat two or three times
Bring your shoulders up to yours ears and then bring right back down your back once again, repeat two or three times
The neck is a place where tension can store, and this will help ease out any stresses from this area.
Breathing - Sounds Easy!
Now you are ready to relax with breathing, which sounds easy, and it is, and it works too.
Controlled breathing or Pranayama can take a bit of practice and the more you practice the better you become at it and the better you feel. It can be done by anyone.
To start with just take a deep breath in, hold for a few seconds and then slowly release, do this two or three times, sitting, standing or lying down, straight away, by just thinking about your breathing and filling your lungs and releasing all your breath, you start to relax.
Following are a couple of breathing exercises that will help you relax, you are probably best doing both sitting comfortably and relaxed, straight, but not stiff.
Sit or lie and breath normally, take a little time just to breathe, close your eyes, after a little while, count how long your inhalations last, then make the inhale 4 counts, and exhale 4 counts, do this five times.
Then lengthen your inhalation/exhalation count to 5 counts, again do five times, check your body to how you feel, release any tension with your exhale, and keep your body relaxed.
Carry on increasing the counts until you get to 8 counts, 8 counts may be too much, if so keep to 7 counts, do not force anything, do as many as you feel right for you, just remembering that with each exhale to relax a little more and release any tension. You can go up to further counts it is up to you, but keep even breathing.
After you have done the counts desired then start to breathe naturally for about 10 rounds, notice how your body feels, how your mind feels. If lying down slowly roll to one side and slowly sit up, if sitting slowly get up and you are now ready for your day
This helps release tension, stress and brings you back to centre.
Humming Bee Breath
I love this one, the first time I did it, I thought a bit strange, but it does work very well.
Start by sitting, close your eyes and bring your attention inwards, put your thumbs on the small flaps on the front of the ears, and bring your hands over your eyes, keep shoulders down and relaxed.
Inhale slowly but fully, when you exhale close the small ear flaps and hum the breath out, it sounds loud in your head, and feel like it vibrates inside your head. Don't rush, slowly fill your lungs again and hum out again, keeping your ear flaps closed, repeat for about 10 rounds.
Just feel the vibrations and enjoy the feeling.
Once finished sit quietly, keeping your eyes closed, and just sit for a few minutes, or lie down and relax. Humming bee breath is very soothing.
Try these two breathing exercises and you should feel relaxed and centred.
Always do this when you are not rushed but have the time, have either no sound or some gentle soft music playing which is very low, you could burn a scented candle too. The main point is to have time, and peace to relax and de-stress
Do you find practising yoga relaxing
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