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.

“Planes, trains and automobiles” Yoga by Aida Bielkus

Travelling is somewhat a necessity during the holiday season. Arriving refreshed at your destination is possible; try these helpful stretches that will bring relaxation to your travel days.  And always remember to pack your mat so you can keep up your practice even when not near your favorite studio! Keep in mind, as you are likely to be stationary before beginning, do not overstretch or push into the activity, because your muscles are likely to be less limber than they would be during your usual Yoga session.

1. Deep Breathing:  Sit with a straight spine aligning your sit-bones and the crown of you head. Close your eyes and take 10 extended breaths in through the nose out through the mouth. Count each breath down from 10 to 1. As you exhale imagine you are letting go of any tension in your body.

2. Neck Rolls: Take your chin down towards your chest – gently and slowly roll your neck to the right dropping your left ear towards your left shoulder.  Roll back toward center and then keeping the chin heavy roll the right ear toward the right shoulder. Repeat five times.

3.  Ankles and Wrists Stretch:  Lift your heels off the floor pressing your toes into the floor. Cross fingers pointing towards yourself palms face up gently pressing through the wrists. Release. Then lift your toes pressing your heels into the floor.  Lift your palms to shoulder height, palms face away from you with finger tips up, press gently from shoulders to palms. Repeat five times.

4.  Seated Cat and Cow:  Place your hands on your knees. Taking a big breath in puff your chest out lifting your heart strings. Exhale and concave your spine squeezing your shoulders forward. Repeat 10 times.

5.  Seated Supine Twist:  Take your right hand to your left knee. Sit nice and tall. As you exhale twist to left as you inhale lengthen through the crown of your head. Take three breaths on this side (exhaling twisting deeply, inhaling lengthening.) Take your left hand to your right knee and repeat for three breaths.

6. Seated Half Pigeon and Eagle Arms:  Lift your right leg, cupping your knee in towards your chest.  Take the ankle and cross it over the opposite knee. Gently drop the right knee towards the earth. Take the right arm under the left touching inner palms. Bring elbows up to shoulder height finger tips reach up (for tight shoulders place your hands on your shoulders and with bent elbows raise them toward the ceiling.) Release the leg to the floor.  Lift your left leg, cupping your knee in towards your chest.  Take the ankle and cross it over the opposite knee. Gently drop the left knee towards the earth. Take the left arm under the right touching inner palms. Bring elbows up to shoulder height finger tips reach up (for tight shoulders place your hands on your shoulders and with bent elbows raise them toward the ceiling.)

7.  Complete with Repeating Deep Breathing:  Sit with a straight spine aligning your sit-bones and the crown of you head. Close your eyes and take 10 extended breaths in through the nose out through the mouth. Count your breaths down from 10 to 1. As you exhale imagine you are letting go of any tension in your body.

Happy Holidays! (…and enjoy the ride!).

– By Aida Bielkus, PHD, RYT