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:
- Start in a seated position.
- Cover your right nostril with your right thumb, and then breathe in through the left nostril for a count of 5.
- Cover both nostrils by leaving your thumb in place and bringing your right ring finger and pinky together over your left nostril.
- Hold your breath and let it circulate for a count of 5.
- Remove your thumb from your right nostril.
- Exhale through the right nostril for a count of 5.
- Inhale through the right nostril for a count of 5.
- Hold your breath to let it circulate for a count of 5.
- Remove your ring and pinky finger from your left nostril.
- Exhale through the left nostril for a count of 5.
- Inhale through the left nostril for a count of 5.
- Hold the breath to let it circulate for a count of 5.
- 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.