Features,Self Care,Stress Relief,Yoga

4 Stress-Busting Yoga Tips

Ugh, 2020 has not been kind to any of us. Stress is flying around and disrupting sanity. Do you need some help with establishing stress relief? Perfect! Here are some quick and easy stress relief yoga tips you can do at home or even on the job (if you are still working outside your home).

These will be especially helpful for essential workers who are hands-on caring for others. And honestly, if you are at home, working, homeschooling, taking care of the household, and everything in between at the exact same time – this is perfect for you as well.

What you will need for this stress-relieving practice

Have these items near you for when you need them. Most people do fine without them. Others find them very helpful. If you do not have “yoga props” at home, no worries. You can makeshift these items from things at home.

If you are doing this practice at home, you can have
  1. Blanket(s): one or two [for knees in kneeling postures and/or for ending posture]
  2. Chair: only if you need one. This will be ideal if you have a difficult time getting down and up from the floor. You can either use it as a helping aid to get down on the floor or to get up. You can also use it for the first posture instead of sitting on the floor.
  3. Bolster: to put under your knees for the last posture. If you do not have a bolster, you can use your extra blanket and roll it up, a pillow, or a thick towel.
  4. Eye Pillow: if you do not have an eye pillow, you can use a hand towel or a pillowcase (folded). This will be used for the last posture.
If you are doing this practice at work
  • You will need the time and space to yourself to do this practice, even if it is for 5 minutes.
  • Wall space
  • Chair for the ending posture

1. Heart and Stretch

Complete 3 sets of these. Doing both sides of what is described below indicates one full set [i.e. inhale right arm up, exhale lower: inhale left arm up, exhale lower].  The focus here is to extend the exhale and activate the vagus nerve. The exhale should give you the sensation of melting heaviness away.

The stretch helps to release tension. It’s something quick and easy when you are in need of stress relief sooner than later. Keep both shoulders down and away from ears during movements.

Start

Sit comfortably on the floor with legs crossed and back straight. Place both hands over the heart on the chest. [Alt] If this is difficult, then sit in a chair with your feet flat on the ground and back straight (you can put support behind you).

Take 3 full deep breaths [take your time]

INHALE: in 2 counts, stretch one arm up overhead with the palm of the hand facing up towards the ceiling; the other arm stretched downward with the palm of hand flat facing towards the floor.

EXHALE: in 6 counts, move both hands back to the heart center. End the completed sets with your hands over your heart.

2. Cat and Dog

Complete 6 sets of these. A completed Cat and Dog stretch is one set. If this movement makes you feel vulnerable or you are at work, do the alternative movement for similar effects [shown under this one; using the wall]. As you do this movement, keep in mind the benefits not what it looks like.

The benefits are spinal movement to reduce tension, stress relief, making space around the heart, circulation, and gentle back stretching. Avoid powering through these movements. Relax your face and any other muscle that is not needed to complete these movements.

Start

Take time to correct body mechanics first. Wrist should be directly under the shoulders. Avoid locking the elbows. Knees should be directly under the hips. Head is in line with the spine (starting). This can be done by looking at the space between your hands. Pelvis is neutral (starting).

Take a deep inhale

EXHALE: (Cat) Simultaneously move the spine upward toward the ceiling (curving the spine), while moving the tail bone and head downward. Focus on gently stretching the back muscles.

INHALE: (Dog) Simultaneously move the torso (belly and chest only) downward toward the floor, while moving the head and tailbone upward toward the ceiling. Focus on gently stretching the chest and making space for the inhale to bring in fresh oxygen.

To end

On the last Cat stretch, hold the stretch for 3 in and out breaths.

On the last Dog stretch, hold the stretch for 3 in and out breaths, then melt back to neutral.


Alternative Cat & Dog: Using the wall

Start in a Tadasana posture

Hands on the wall, fingers spread apart. Wrist parallel to shoulders, elbows slightly bent, maintain Tadasana feet and legs. 

Take a deep inhale

EXHALE: (Cat) curve the spine behind and allow the head and tailbone to drop.

INHALE: (Dog)  move the torso forward towards the wall creating an arch in the spine, lifting the head and extending the tailbone.

To end

On the last Cat stretch, hold the stretch for 3 in and out breaths.

On the last Dog stretch, hold the stretch for 3 in and out breaths, then melt back to neutral.


3. Thread the Needle

This movement is done from the table position (like you are in for the Cat and Dog stretch). Recheck your starting position: wrist under the shoulders, hands flat on the floor with fingers stretch and knees under the hips.

As you do this asana, maintain an even and balanced stance of both knees. In other words, avoid lifting, in any way, the knee on one side. Similar to the Cat and Dog stretches, this asana can be done standing up and against the wall.

Note

This practice is transitioning out of the previous practice; Cat & Dog. Maintain the same beginning body mechanic corrections to do this correctly. 

Start

INHALE: one arm up like you are reaching up & behind you.

EXHALE: thread that same arm in between your balance arm and the body.

HOLD: Rest in this position for 6 full breaths. Focus only on the breaths and relax your thinking. With each exhale, develop a sense of emptiness in the center of your being.

Inhale: come back to the starting position in table. Do the other side.


Alternative Thread the Needle: Using the wall

This practice is transitioning out of the previous practice; Alternative Cat & Dog.

Start in a Tadasana posture. Hands on the wall, fingers spread apart. Wrist parallel to shoulders, elbows slightly bent, maintain Tadasana feet and legs.

INHALE: reach one arm behind you while you keep the other arm balanced on the wall.

EXHALE: thread the reached arm in between your balanced arm and the body.

HOLD: Rest in this position for 6 full breaths (three full breaths if you are at work). Allow the head and the shoulder of the threaded arm rest on the wall. Focus only on the breaths and relax your thinking. With each exhale, develop a sense of emptiness in the center of your being.

Inhale: come back to the starting position in table. Do the other side.


4. Shirvasana (resting posture)

This is the best yoga posture for getting a handle on stress. In your transition to this posture, get any blankets, eye pillows, and bolsters that you need.

Lie on your back, palms facing up and something under your knees and rest for about 3-5 mins.


Alternative Shirvasana

Sit in a chair with something to support your back. Let your feet rest on the ground. Hands in your lap or on the armrest of the chair with the palms facing up.

Allow your eyes to close and rest here for the rest of the time that you have.


I hope that you find benefit in this quick practice. If you have tried it at home or at work, let us know how it worked for you. Also, subscribe to the blog for more health helpful tips.

For additional helpful tips for stress, check out our article Manage Anger with Yoga. It includes a basic meditation and pranayama that can also be beneficial for stress.


Disclosure

Before starting any movement or exercise routine, please consult with your physician if you have any major medical concerns. These tips are geared towards health and wellness. If you don’t feel that you are getting the benefits, please discontinue. Information and tips in this blog do not claim to cure or be a sole solution to any health conditions. These are supportive resources. Thank you and be healthy.

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