Note from Joy: I was really happy (well, joyous) when Michelle from sol glo sent me this guest post to share with you all because it's so gosh darn useful to help you combat the effects of stress. Now even if you've never done yoga before, you can always start with breathing and child's pose. Enjoy!
The holiday season is upon us and along with the twinkle lights, sparkly ornaments, and mistletoe may also come frantic shopping, hours in the kitchen, and sleigh loads of stress.
Well don't worry! I am happy to share with you a Stress Relief Series brought to you by Joy and I! We are teaming together to cover all the bases, to ensure that you not only enter the season healthy and stress-free but that you also come out of it healthy, stress-free, and glowing! We also want you to be able to enjoy this magical holiday season to it's fullest.
Stress can wreak havoc on your body and by keeping your stress levels low you are also keeping your immune system healthy. It is proven that exercise boosts mood and lowers cortisol levels due to the release of 'happy' endorphins, however during times of stress, yoga which is much more calming and natural, is a wiser choice. Yoga creates space not only in the body but also in the mind, in your heart, and in your life.
Try this short simple practice to help release stress:
Quiet your thoughts, close your eyes, and turn inwards. Become more present as you shift your awareness to your breath and give yourself permission to release all other thoughts. Slow things down by breathing mindfully for a few minutes enjoying silence and stillness.
Choose any of these mantras to connect to your breath:
INHALE "Let In" EXHALE "Let Go"
INHALE "Space" EXHALE "Relax"
INHALE "Open" EXHALE "Release"
Find your centre and do these asanas to destress any tensions in your body and mind and allow stress to melt away.
Balasana (Child's Pose)
Start in table position, on your hands and knees. Separate your knees, bring your big toes together, and ease your seat back onto your heels (place a blanket under your seat to make up any distance). Slowly lower yourself onto your forearms and then gradually lower your forehead down and relax your head. If you can't lower all the way down then rest your forehead on stacked fists. Relax your arms either over head or back by your sides. Let go of control.
Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Half Pigeon)
From table or Downward Facing Dog swing your right knee up towards your right wrist. Lower your right shin down and keep it at a comfortable angle to protect the knee. Keep your hips squared and prop up the right hip if your weight is leaning to the right. Start to walk your left leg back as far as you can keeping your ankle, knee, and hip all in line. Sinking your hips lower, start to walk your arms forward and fold down as far as you can. Release tensions and emotional stress that gets stored in the hips, open glutes and lower back, and relieve sciatica.
Standing with feet hip width apart, hands on hips. Find a dristi (focal point). Root down beneath all four corners of your right foot, being your big toe, baby toe, inside of heel, outside of heel. Slide your left foot to the inside of the right leg and place the foot below or above the knee. Feel free to keep your hands on your hips, bring them to heart centre in anjali mudra (prayer), or lift your arms overhead reaching through the fingertips. You may also use a wall for stability. Root down and rise up. Draw your senses inward to help with your balance.
Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall)
Have a seat beside the wall and swing your legs up the wall as you recline down on the floor. Let your legs hang naturally sinking back into their hip sockets. If the back of the legs are feeling any strain then slide your seat further away from the wall. Let your arms open and relax away from your sides, allowing your shoulders to roll down. Allow the heaviness to leave tired legs and to create more circulation to the heart and head. To come out of this asana, draw your knees towards your chest, roll over on to your right side, and use your palms to help you up.
Salamba Sirasana (Headstand)
Starting in table pose, lower to your forearms, interlace your fingers, and open your palms. Bow down and place your head into the safety net of your hands. Tuck your toes under, lift your hips high coming into a Downward Facing Dog variation. Walk your toes towards your head until you can't walk them in any further. Slowly tuck your knees to your chest and keeping your core strong gradually extend your legs overhead reaching through the toes. To come out of this asana, gently lower one leg down, then the other. If you have not practiced headstand before you may wish to practice this up against a wall for stability.
Happy Glowing Holidays,
You can find Michelle on twitter @vogiyogi