5 Yoga Practices to Reduce Stress
Here are a few ways your practice can help with stress.
- Take Savasana – Lie down and take rest at the end of your practice and at intervals throughout the day, as needed. The main purpose of savasana is to remove fatigue and tension from the nervous system. Although it is one of the most important poses, it is also one of the hardest for people, and therefore it is one of the poses people often leave out or don’t spend enough time in.Sometimes when we are fatigued and stressed, our immediate impulse is to take a nap. And that might be indicated for sure, especially if we haven’t been sleeping. But sometimes a 10-15 minute savasana is more effective than a nap.
- Correct Your Breathing – Usually when we get stressed our breathing is impaired, and subsequently there more stress exerts itself on the nervous system, rendering all of the systems of the body unable to work at an optimal capacity. By simply working with the breath we can start to reverse this pattern.There are a variety of patterns in the breathing that show up – the breath can become primarily in the upper chest/thoracic region, it can become too quick or too shallow, our exhale tends to get compromised so we are not emptying out completely, or we may develop a negative breathing pattern where the abdomen goes in when it should expand.When you get stressed, try to notice when one of these patterns manifests, and then actively work against it. Sometimes this requires the help of a teacher, and other times just by bringing our attention to it, relaxing the shoulders, sitting upright (without over-arching the back), and lifting the heart, we self-correct it.
- Practice Restorative Yoga – Inversions and long holds in more passive poses can actively stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system and induce tranquility and calm.
- Extend the Exhale – Most of us are unable to let go of stress once we experience it, and the stress creates anxiety, which tends to shorten our exhale. By actively focusing on our exhale, we can help reverse this hyper-pranic pattern.
- Stay Present – Paul made a good point in class today that anxiety and stress are unfortunately quite common, and when we are anxious we are not present, we are caught up in the future and our worries about the future, whatever the worries are. If we can stay present, focusing on what is in front of us to tackle each day, we can help to assuage some of this anxiety. Know what to do, make a plan for yourself, and take care of things one thing at a time.