We all experience stress, specially around the holidays. There’s a lot going on and we can feel like there’s zero down time with the added pressure of planning trips, attending parties and buying gifts. During frenetic times we can always turn to yoga to find tips on how to balance ourselves and create the right state of mind in order to effective deal any type of situation that evokes a stress response.
As soon as our body feels stress we go into “fight or flight” mode. The heart races, the psoas muscle connecting the torso to the legs contracts and gets ready to spring into motion if need be, and our nervous system shifts into panic mode. Stress makes our digestive system shut down, and it tells our brain to signal the release of adrenaline in the body. If we experience this over and over we begin to put a huge strain on the body and mind.
How Do Yoga Techniques Help Us Deal with Stress?
When we use yoga breathing and other practices that help us draw the attention inward, we immediately experience a sense of relief and inner calm. Being peaceful and relaxed is our natural state of being. However, when we are constantly on the go and finding ourselves in stressful situations, we start to think this stress mode is normal. Try these tips below to combat stress and give yourself a much-needed break from your busy schedule.
Shanmukhi Mudra, Taking a Time Out From the External World
Start by sitting in a comfortable position. If sitting cross legged is not comfortable, prop yourself up with a block, bolster or blanket. Bring your thumbs to your ears and with gentle pressure close off the sounds by pressing inward. Use your index fingers over your closed eyes, your middle fingers to the sides of the nose and the last two fingers to the outside of the mouth. Take a deep breath in and close off your nose to hold your breath for a count of 10 seconds then release and repeat a few times. By closing off the sound and focusing on the breath you will start to feel like the external world is further and further away. Do a few rounds of this and then relax your arms over the legs and take a few deep breaths allowing the external world to come back to the senses.
Alternate Nostril Breathing to Chill Ourselves Out
Sit cross-legged or in a chair and rest the left hand on the leg with the palm facing up. Bring your right hand up to your face and find the bridge of your nose with your thumb and ring finger. Place your thumb just above the right nostril and the ring finger and little finger over the left. With your index and middle fingers gentle press into the space between your eyebrows. Close off the left nostril and inhale deeply through your right. Close off the right nostril and exhale through your left. Inhale through our left and exhaled through the right and so on. Do a few rounds and then relax with your arms resting on your legs for a few breaths. This is a great way to calm the nervous system by and reset the body.
Jalandhara Bandha, Holding the Breath and Drawing the Energy Upwards
The throat lock, or jalandhara bandha is a technique that is used for stretching out the neck and drawing energy up towards the head. This technique brings a lot of air into the lungs and releases tension in the neck muscles. Sit comfortably resting the hands on the legs with the shoulders relaxed and the spine long. Take a deep breath in and fill your lungs to about two thirds maximum capacity. Hold the air in your body, lift the chest and tuck the chin. After about ten seconds release the lock, sit up tall and take a few deep breaths in. Repeat a few more times.
The next time you experience stress, carve out a few minutes for yourself without any distractions and try out the exercises above. We would love to hear how it went! For more information on yoga breathing techniques or yoga class information contact Buddhi Yoga at (858) 886-7580.