One thing I’m hearing over and over at the moment is how anxious or stressed my female friends are, especially the Mums.
At the beginning of lockdown I started drafting a blog post that I never actually published entitled “Mental Health — The Next Pandemic”. Little did I know how long all of the chaos was going to continue and that we would be 6 months in, with tensions high and nerves fried all round.
I’m not immune to stress, far from it, but I DO have daily practices to comfort, calm and counteract it and I want you to learn tools that work for you too.
Yoga may not be your bag, if not, I’ve got you — I’ve got a series of stress and anxiety related tips on their way so please do stay tuned for more.
These restorative yoga poses will tap in to the parasympathetic nervous system — the rest and digest function and slow a racing heart, helping relieve tension in the body and calm the mind.
Dangling pose (Standing Forward Fold)
Forward folds are considered restorative and calming poses but also stretch through the hamstrings, legs and back, places where we can hold tension in our body from stress.
Step feet hip distance apart and let your body dangle down, keeping spine long and again thinking about bringing your belly towards your thighs, knees can be as bent as you need. In restorative or yin practices we want to actually relax in to the pose, this is the only standing pose but try to make it as passive as possible by bending the knees generously and maybe standing by a wall so you can rest your hips back against it for extra support.
Imagine all of your worries and stress pouring out from the crown of your head.
Hold for 2–3 minutes.
From hands and knees on your mat, take your knees wide and bring big toes together behind you. Sit back towards your heels, and fold forward with your head on the floor.
Draw your attention to the point between your brows, the third-eye space, where your forehead is in contact with the mat, blanket or block. Feel free to bring knees together and wrap arms around behind you with palms facing up if that is more comfortable for you.
A deeply restorative and calming pose, if you are in the wide legged version you are also stretching through the shoulders which may feel tight or be holding tension when we are stressed.
Stay in the pose for 3–5 minutes.
Waterfall pose (Legs Up the Wall)
This pose is so simple, requires little effort, flexibility or strength but is a great de-stresser.
Start by finding a space by a wall with enough room for you to lie down. Wiggle your hips as close to the wall as possible, then start walking your feet up the wall until your body is in a somewhat L-shaped position. Adjust until you feel comfortable, arms out to the side or on your belly.
Once comfortable just focus on your breath. Breathe deeply through your nose, letting the breath settle then starting to slow it into a deep even inhale and exhale. Placing one hand on your heart and one on your belly is a great way of mindfully breathing in the pose to feel the deep breath fill and expand your lower belly as it travels past your chest.
Stay in the pose for 5 minutes or more. A great one to do before bed.