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3 Health Yoga Life Tips to Relieve Stress and Tension

Health Yoga Life Online Reduce Stress and Tension

If you’re feeling tense, my friends, you are not alone. There are several stressors in today’s world causing anxiety in many adults. It’s safe to say we all need a little stress-relief, and there’s no better way to heal your mind and body than with yoga techniques. Check out our three tips for relieving tension below.


Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana) for a Calm Mind

One simple and powerful way to ease stress and anxiety is through Nadi Shodhana, or alternate nostril breathing. This method of breathing calms the mind and relaxes the body.

How does Nadi Shodhana work? This technique balances:

      • Right and left-brain activity
      • Your body energies
      • Your nervous system

After practicing this breathing technique, you’ll find that your shoulders will release tension and your mind will feel at ease.


Steps for Nadi Shodhana

Wherever you are (your bedroom, your office, or your car), take a few moments to follow these steps for Nadi Shodhana:


      1. Start in a seated position.
      2. Cover your right nostril with your right thumb, and then breathe in through the left nostril for a count of 5.
      3. Cover both nostrils by leaving your thumb in place and bringing your right ring finger and pinky together over your left nostril.
      4. Hold your breath and let it circulate for a count of 5.
      5. Remove your thumb from your right nostril.
      6. Exhale through the right nostril for a count of 5.
      7. Inhale through the right nostril for a count of 5.
      8. Hold your breath to let it circulate for a count of 5.
      9. Remove your ring and pinky finger from your left nostril.
      10. Exhale through the left nostril for a count of 5.
      11. Inhale through the left nostril for a count of 5.
      12. Hold the breath to let it circulate for a count of 5.
      13. Exhale through the right and then repeat this practice until you feel at ease.

The more you use this yoga technique the easier it will be to match your length of breath with the time. Also, note that after each inhale, it gets easier to retain your breath.


Nostril Breathing for Energy and Sleep

Another technique you can try involves breathing through just one nostril for an extended period of time. If you want to increase your alertness and energy, breathe through your right nostril, which targets the left side of your brain. If you want to increase creativity, logical thinking, and decrease mental activity, breathe through your left nostril to energize the right side of your brain.

BONUS TIP: Having trouble sleeping at night? Try left nostril breathing to induce sleep!


Yoga Pose for Tension Relief: Half Pigeon Pose

If your stress is making your body tense and sore, then try half pigeon pose. This hip opener reduces tension by soothing stiff hips and relaxing the upper body.

For instructions on how to achieve pigeon pose, check out Yoga Journal’s guide. And, if you’re new to yoga, try Reclined Figure 4 or “Thread the Needle.” This variation will gradually prepare your body for Half Pigeon while still providing tension relief.


Coaching Tip: Notice, Embrace, and Replace Negative Thoughts

Often, we feel tense because of negative thoughts about our circumstances, our relationships, or our bodies. To relieve this tension, Notice, Embrace, and Replace your thoughts.

Instead of trying to push away negative thoughts, notice them. Let them flow freely, recognizing the emotional response they create in your body. It’s okay to feel tense because of something someone said to you or because you didn’t get the job you wanted. But don’t leave it here. Don’t accept the lies your mind is trying to tell you about your worth, your value, or your beauty. Instead, embrace the thoughts and recognize them for what they are — untrue beliefs. Once you do this, your mind and body will be ready for healing. After noticing and embracing the thought, replace it with a positive statement, such as “I have all I need to be happy,” to empower yourself.

Try this practice of noticing, embracing, and replacing your untrue thoughts and see how quickly you come back to the present moment. We’ve personally experienced relief from tension by combining this mental practice with Half Pigeon Pose or alternate nostril breathing. We highly suggest doing the same!


Ease Tension with Yoga

Stress, anxiety, and tension are all unavoidable parts of life. Thankfully, we have a host of practices we can do to combat these feelings. When you’re overwhelmed, instead of succumbing to these feelings, try a breathing technique, relaxing yoga pose, or a combination of the two. As your physical body falls into ease, your spiritual body will follow suit. This grounding will empower you to handle your situations, relationships, and thoughts with grace.

For more stress-relief yoga poses, check out Health Yoga Life’s virtual yoga classes. You’ll connect with experienced trainers and students while working out your physical and spiritual energies. Together we can get through anything.

5 Yoga Poses for New Moms-by Vyda Bielkus

As we celebrate moms this Mother’s Day, I wanted to inspire new moms to take a few moments each day to quiet the mind and ease the body through yoga. I realize it is a big challenge to find even a minute away from your baby, but these yoga poses are so simple that they can easily be done while the baby is napping or even while the infant hangs out with mom on the yoga mat. Yoga is terrific for new moms. It can help with many of the aches and pains women can have after delivery, as they carry and breastfeed the baby. Yoga also helps alleviate stress, mild depression, fatigue and anxiety.

One of my biggest inspirations for having good health strategies in my own life is my mom. I remember as a young girl watching her pop in the Jane Fonda exercise tape into the VCR, swinging her arms in big circles, heavily breathing but laughing and smiling all the way. And I distinctly remember shushing my sisters when she would peak her head out from her room and ask us, her four daughters, to be quiet while she mediated. Children model what they see their parents doing. I am so grateful to my mother for showing me that self-care is vital to personal health and happiness.

Take these poses as you can in your own time.

Also Health Yoga Life in Boston honors moms this Mother’s Day. Yoga classes for moms are free all day, Sunday, May 11, 2014!

Rag-doll with Arm Bind
Separate your feet hips width distance apart and fold your torso over your legs. Soften your knees. Interlace your hands at your lower back lift the arms and wrap your hands over your head toward the floor in front of you. If you cannot easily interlace your hands, grab a towel between your hands. Take deep breaths in and out. Let your head be heavy. This pose can help relieve tension in the head, neck and shoulders that can occur from breastfeeding and carrying a new baby.


Legs Up the Wall
Bring your hips to the wall and swing your legs up the wall into an inversion. You can bring a pillow under the hips for a little extra support. This pose is very relaxing. It deepens one’s breath and eases stiffness from the legs. Put an eye mask or towel over the eyes to increase relaxation. It also aids digestion and can help ease mild depression.


Forearm Plank Pose
This version of the plank is accessible for most people. Bring yourself into a plank on your forearms, by aligning your shoulders, chest, abdominal muscles, hips and legs. Toes are curled under. This will help to start strengthen and heal the abdominal muscles and spine. Stay for 10-30 seconds. If you need to, bring your knees down for support.


Bridge Pose
Lie on you back. Bring your feet flat, knees bent. Lay your arms by your sides and lift your hips up. If you can, interlace your hands underneath you. This helps open up the neck, chest, and back. It revitalizes the spine and reduces fatigue and anxiety.


Child’s Pose (while strengthening the pelvic floor)
Bring yourself to the floor and bring you knees wide apart and your toes to touch, separate your knees, bring your forehead to the floor. Then bring awareness to the lower abdominal muscles and the pelvic floor. Think about lifting the entire pelvic floor in and up. This will help a new mom strengthening the pelvic floor while also finding rest.


Yoga in the Summer: Hot or Not? Guest post by HYL Teacher Allison Jones

Yoga in the Summer: Hot or Not?

No one can deny the comfort of walking into a hot yoga room during the dark frigidity of winter. The heated practice not only warms the body but it helps keep one’s inner flame burning brightly. Heated yoga keeps the body supple and fluid during the cold months and helps to counteract mild depression and has loads of other health benefits. Basically, it’s always 90° and sunny inside HYL’s yoga studio.

After those seemingly endless months of wicked early sunsets, wild East Coast winds and Nor’easters, comes the first warm day of the year. Those days start to appear in succession and then all of a sudden it’s 90 degrees in Boston! It might seem like the logical time to abandon your heated yoga practice. Below are several reasons that will make you think twice.

Note: Health Yoga Life’s instructors carefully monitor the heat inside and outside the class room.  Adjustments to the heat are made for every individual class and some of our classes are not heated at all!

1.  Practising yoga in a heated room can help you acclimate to the summer weather. The body becomes better at cooling itself. The dog days of summer will be easier to bear since you are used to heat and humidity. When others are complaining of the swelter, you’ll be more comfortable and likely breaking more of a sweat. The fitter you are, the faster you sweat as your body develops more sweat glands. Who knew that sweating constituted bragging rights?! You will also secrete fewer electrolytes in your sweat, as more of it is absorbed by the body. To maintain electrolyte balance, be sure to drink an electrolyte-enhanced beverage before and after class. To replenish electrolytes try Ultima powder or Nuun tablets. We sell them at Health Yoga Life! Just put them in water and you are good to go.

2. Sometimes the extreme weather of summer is matched by extreme activity. You might find yourself eating or drinking a little too much at that barbecue, wedding or pool party. Balance yourself out by detoxing in a hot yoga class. By sweating, you flush out the toxins, keeping your internal organs functioning well and helping your skin retain a healthy glow. You may also partake in extreme sports during the summertime, making you more susceptible to injury. Keeping up your heated yoga practice will allow your muscles to stretch deeply. And let’s face it – who really stretches properly before and after going for a jog?  Yoga will help you maintain flexibility, strength and mobility, enhancing your performance during other physical activity. Half-marathon? Go get ‘em tiger – but book-end it with a date on your yoga mat.

3. Have you ever had one of those summers that just flew by? All of a sudden it’s September and you have that bitter-sweet feeling? Keeping up your hot yoga practice will help you to slow down and stay present. Training yourself to breathe deeply will have a balancing and calming effect on your nervous system. We are bombarded by a constant stream of stimuli in our modern lives with our smart phones, Facebook, email, twitter and Skype pulling us off center. Every moment of our day can be spent “multi-tasking” or in others words – thinking and doing multiple things at once, sacrificing present moment awareness.  It is detrimental to the body and mind to stay constantly in a hyper-alert state. Yoga helps to kick start the relaxation response. By truly calming down from the inside out we find an improvement in overall health – physically, mentally and emotionally.

         A new study from investigators at the Benson-Henry Institute for Mind/Body  Medicine at               Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) finds that elicitation of the relaxation response — a physiologic state of deep rest induced by practices such as meditation, yoga, deep breathing and prayer — produces immediate changes in the expression of genes involved in immune function, energy metabolism and insulin secretion.                (

Confirmation from science is validating but can’t hold a candle to the way you feel after emerging from savasana. Experience the benefits for yourself and make this your best summer yet. Join us for yoga class at Health Yoga Life!

So, the moral of the story is even though your friends might think you’re crazy, keep yoga on your schedule for the summer! See you on your mat.