Relaxation is incredibly important, especially in this day and age. Yoga’s benefits are more than soothing stress and anxiety, allowing your body and mind space to rest and recover. It has a positive impact on physical and mental health by lowering blood pressure, slowing heart and breath rate, improving digestion, reducing chronic pain, increasing energy levels and feelings of emotional and physical wellbeing.
Yoga helps relieve stress and anxiety by turning on your body’s rest and recovery response by stimulating the parasympathetic nervous system through slow, mindful breathing practices. These practices counter the effects of cortisol and adrenaline which are harmful when the body remains in a chronic state of stress. Think of constantly being in flight or fight mode. Exhausting, right?
If you suffer from chronic conditions or severe back pain, only practice under the supervision of a certified yoga therapist.
- Savasana (Tranquility)
While laying still, focus on your breathing – a longer exhale stimulates the vagus nerve, which lowers blood pressure, pulse, and slows the heartbeat.
Place one hand on your belly and the other on your chest. Keep your head in line with your spine, with your shoulder slightly tucked under, chest open and arms, hips and legs relaxed. For support, add a small pillow under your head and a bolster under your knees.
- Reclined Butterfly (Supta Baddha Konasana)
While lying on your back, place a small pillow under your head, shoulders down away from your ears and your chest open. You can have a folded towel or blanket, lengthwise, under the spine. While your knees open out, place your feet together. Keep your arms relaxed alongside your body.
This pose improves blood circulation and stimulates the heart by opening your hips, heart and pelvic region to create space and release tension. If your hips are too tight, support your knees with yoga blocks or stacked books.
- Supine Twist
Stretch and experience relaxation in the process by alleviating tension through the spine.
While lying on your back, hug your knees to your chest. Open your arms out on the floor at shoulder level. Twist your torso so the side of your legs are touching the ground, stacked. Keep your shoulders to the ground. To deepen the pose, place a hand on your leg and gently draw your legs closer to the floor. To unwind, bring your knees to your chest and slowly rotate to the other side. If needed, use blocks, pillows or other props to support your legs.
- Supine Twist
This mild inversion pose helps boost circulation through the head and upper body, leaving you feeling realigned after hours of sitting or standing. Feel free to use a folded blanket or bolster under your hips. Even with support, your sit bones should be touching the wall.
- Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose helps release neck, shoulder, and back tension and calms the nervous system. Folding the body into itself is cooling, relaxing, and grounding. This helps you draw energy inward and begin to practice withdrawal of the senses.
Kneel on a thick blanket to assist your knees, and place your sit bones on your heels. If this is uncomfortable, place another blanket or rolled towel behind the knees in the crease. Slide your hands forward. As you reach, slide your hips toward your heels. Rest your chest on your thighs or spread your knees to rest your belly between. Rest your forehead comfortably on the ground or a block. You can also move your hands to support your head if needed.
Poses demonstrated by Nancy Deckard, MS, eRYT, C-IAYT, via Vitality Nutrition and Wellness Center. Lauren Deckard is the owner of Peak Mobility in OC.
Find this and more in the May issue of Ocean City Magazine