We have all dealt with stress at some point in time on some level. Whether it creeps in at little moments during the day or we have big changes going on in our life, stress can build up. For years now, we’ve been hearing how great yoga is for your mental, physical and emotional well-being. And it is! But, sometimes life gets in the way and, we can’t always make it to the studio or can’t afford that insanely expensive class. Everyone deserves the chance to relax, even those with time and budget constraints.
This is where I’m able to help, I have compiled a list of stress reduction techniques and yoga poses that anyone can do at home or on the go. These stress reduction techniques can be done right in your work place or on a plane, really wherever and whenever you feel it necessary. Below that, I have compiled a yoga sequence (minus full-pose instructions) you can use in the morning or at night before you go to bed to release the tension your body retains.
Ready to decompress and relax? Find your quiet place and practice these stress reduction techniques:
Focus on your breath. The physical effects of stress often subconsciously put our bodies into a hyper-tense mode. This can happen in an office or, while we are traveling and when we have no way to physically get up and release this hypertension. When you recognize the onset stress beginning, breath in through your nose and out through your mouth. Stay focused on the breath, switch up your breathing techniques so your mind does not get bored, and you revert back into stress-mode.
Have a go-to stress mentor you can access anywhere or a book you carry with you. I mentioned in the last paragraph about switching up your breathing techniques, I learned this and all of my breathing techniques from Gabby Bernstein. When I feel moments of stress coming on I take a quick break and put on one of her breathing exercises or listen to one of her meditations etc.
Meditate. Meditation is not as easy as it looks. It is actually one of the hardest practices I have integrated into my life but also one of the most beneficial. For me personally, it forces me to sit with myself and see what comes into my mind. People are busier than ever with little time to themselves. Often times we barely have a moment to process our own emotions and thoughts. Meditation provides the opportunity to filter out thoughts wether good or bad by fully releasing and processing what’s going on. If you’re having trouble starting meditation I’d recommend going to a workshop (I attended one at Wanderlust Festival in Vermont a few years ago). It really helped me to understand why meditation was not an “easy” or “quick fix” to managing stress but rather a conscious practice.
Yoga Sequence to practice at home or even in an office:
Wide-legged child’s pose with your forehead on the floor or a mat. Roll your forehead side-to-side 10 times while taking deep inhales and exhales. This will release the tension in your forehead, neck, and upper spine. Start to sync your breath with your moments here as well. While you roll out the forehead begin to take deep breaths in through your nose, breathe all way into your diaphragm and exhale back through the nose.
Once you feel relaxed and ready to move forward. Come to a table-top position and do 10 rounds of cat cow poses. Releasing the spine is a great way to begin opening and releasing stress related tension and move into more advanced poses in the future.
From there transition into a down dog. Have feet hips width distance apart and stay in your down dog for about a minute. If you want more sensation, roll out your neck by shaking the head side to side or by pedaling the heels back and forth, but this extra step is not necessary.
Next, hop forward and take 5-7 rounds of standing forward fold, incorporating a flat back movement. Don’t forget to incorporate your breath here! Inhale look forward, exhale crown of the head faces down towards the mat, repeat.
Come to an easy-seated pose at the front of your mat. Interlace all 10 fingers behind your back, relax your shoulders and bow forward while maintaining a consistent breath.
After the easy-seated variation, roll back onto your mat with your gaze up to the sky and come into a bridge pose. There are a few variations of bridge pose you can do, take whichever option is most comfortable here. I’d recommend 2-3 rounds of this pose.
Next, lay back completely on your mat once again. Take 2-3 rounds of deep breathes to re-center after your bridge pose. Bring your knees and big toes together with the soles of your feet on the mat; arms are spread out to a T shape. Begin 4-8 rounds of lying down spinal twist on each side while maintaining your breathing with the poses.
End the sequence with a lying down pose of your choice, my favorite is legs up the wall, for a 1-2 minute Savasana.
*Disclaimer: these tips are not meant to cure any health conditions. If you have a serious medical condition please consult a licensed doctor or therapist.