Stress Month: Yoga

Stress Month: Yoga

Introducing the second piece in our four part blog series for Stress Awareness Month, aiming to banish unwanted stress with at home remedies and techniques. Last week we talked about aromatherapy, and how these natural beauties can help you in a variety of ways. This week we have passed the baton over to Georgie from Glo Yoga, who will be shining a light on yoga and how this ancient practice can remove stress from parts of your body you didn’t know existed.

 We tend to store trauma and stress from our day-to-day lives as tension or tightness in the body; sitting at a desk or being on our feet all day can cause additional physical stresses. Without release, this tension can mount up and lead to a range of physical ailments, as well as anxiety and depression.

Yoga is a beautiful practice that can help relieve stress and tension in the body, whilst also quietening our busy, tired minds through mindfulness, meditation and breath work.

How does it work?

“The body benefits from movement, the mind benefits from stillness” Sakyong Mipham

Let’s start with the breath. Yoga encourages breath awareness as we cultivate longer, fuller inhales and exhales during meditation, and as we move into our physical practice. There are a variety of breathwork techniques called pranayama’s, which trigger the parasympathetic nervous system within. This in turn controls the rest, relax and digestion response, opposed to the sympathetic nervous system, which is responsible for our fight or flight response. When the parasympathetic system is dominant, your breathing slows, your heart rate drops, your blood pressure lowers as the blood vessels relax, and your body is put into a state of calm and healing.

“The quality of one’s life depends upon the quality of one’s mind. Stress, overstimulation, excess expectations, and mental turmoil drain our energy and our capacity to enjoy life… In our clinical practices, we find that starting with breath practices gives immediate benefits that most people can experience.” Dr. Richard Brown & Dr. Patricia Gerbarg, ‘Yoga Breathing, Meditation, & Longevity’

Once we have taken control of our breath, the body is able move calmly and consciously, releasing tension and allowing energy (Prana) to flow more freely. Each pose or ‘asana’ invites us to stretch, strengthen and release different areas within the physical body, meaning it’s a wonderful all body workout. With such an inward focus the mind slows right down and grounds us beautifully, leaving us feeling connected, focused and alive.

Rest and Restore

Restorative Yoga is especially powerful for calming the mind and grounding us in moments of acute stress. Even better, we can all do it at home with the help of a comfy blanket and a couple of cushions or a bolster. Here are my five favourite “slow down” poses for when I need to combat stress and connect to my own quiet space within.

 

1. Sukhasana :: Easy Pose

(practiced here on a bolster, with one hand on the belly and one over the heart)

A beautiful grounding pose that connects us to the earth through the Muladhara (root chakra), whilst also bringing our awareness to our heart. Sit on both sitting bones with the legs crossed and relaxed. Lift the spine and open across the chest, allowing the shoulders to release gently. A bolster or folded blanket is always good in the case of tight hips, so that the spine can be straight and the hips at ease. Imagine an invisible thread pulling the crown of the head up to the sky (or stars), as you lift you chin and relax all the muscles in your face. 

Cultivate longer fuller breaths and allow the body to soften with each exhale as you find stillness within. You might like to repeat a mantra of your choice, or I have listed some powerful positive affirmations for stress relief (pictured below). As you repeat these affirmations really feel them and believe them to be true, deep in your heart.

 

2. Viparita Karani :: Legs up the Wall

Viparita Karani invites us to drop beneath the surface of our day-to-day life into quieter and more introspective realms. It teaches us that positive results come from doing less, not more.

This soothing, restorative pose calms the nervous system, eases muscle fatigue, and helps restore healthy, restful breathing. Particularly effective for winding down before bedtime. This pose also gives the blood circulation a gentle boost toward the upper body and head, the perfect way to rebalance after a long day of sitting or standing.

Practice with a bolster or blanket under the pelvis to gently lift the hips. It’s even better with some super mellow music and a linseed and lavender eye pillow - we have both in all of my classes!

 

3. Balasana :: Child’s Pose

Have you ever noticed how during a stressful tantrum, young children automatically hit the floor. Their instincts guide them to ground and the soothing presence of the earth calms them down. Hence “Child’s Pose”. 

During moments of stress, bring yourself into this wonderful restorative pose on your bed or a rug in your home. From a kneeling position, pull your toes together behind you, and take the knees wide to make space for your upper body. Release the chest down to the floor and connect the forehead (and your third eye chakra) down into the earth. For extra support place a pillow or bolster under your chest. Release the body completely and allow tension to soften into love, compassion and peace.

 

4. Vrksasana :: Tree Pose

This grounding balance pose presents an opportunity for mindfulness and deep stillness. Focusing your gaze to steady the mind helps as one leg is lifted into this hip opening asana. Find your balance with both feet on the ground, then when you are ready, lift one foot to rest on the inner thigh of the grounded leg, bent knee angled to the side. Depending on how you are feeling, you can adjust your bent leg, either higher towards the groin or lower towards the ankle. Be sure not to rest your foot on the inside on the knee, as to avoid risk of injury. Although it takes a little while as a beginner to find stillness here, and physically this can be quite challenging (start up against a wall if you feel a little wobbly), this pose is deeply calming once you have found your balance.

Vrksasana is great for relieving stress as you have no choice but to be completely in the moment and consciously connected to your core and your roots. 

 

5. Supta Baddha Konasana :: Reclined Bound Angle or Butterfly Pose (supported with bolster)

A wonderful restorative pose that lets you achieve a deep state of rest and relaxation, and can be enjoyed for anything from 5 to 20 minutes. This pose provides a stretch for the inner thighs, and opens the hips, enhancing circulation to the vital organs in the lower belly. It also creates a quiet chest opening, broadening of the collarbones and the front of the shoulders whilst the upper back is supported. 

This is an especially nurturing pose when you feel tired and run down. Allow the heart to open and roll with any emotions that flow, as the body and mind release as one. Do be mindful to listen to your body in this pose and honour when it has had enough - there is a lot of release here and it’s important to respect any signals the body sends us!

 

Come and practice with me

I teach a variety of Yoga classes locally, to suit all abilities, in some beautiful and truly unique locations. My classes are relaxed and friendly and we have something for everyone - if you would like to join us please get in touch! I am always delighted to talk about Yoga.

 

CURRENT CLASS SCHEDULE

  Monday Tuesday Wednesday Thursday Friday Saturday Sunday
Morning

10:15am

Rise & Shine Vinyasa

@ Rah! Fitness, Petworth

10am

Hatha Yoga

@ Manns of Cranleigh

10am

Pregnancy Yoga

@ Manns of Cranleigh

(Starting in May)

9:30am

GLO Flow

@Duncton

x x x
Afternoon

7:30pm

Yoga in the Yurt

@Warnham

6pm

Gentle Hatha Flow

@ Rudgwick

7:30pm

Candlelit Vinyasa

@ Rudgwick

7pm

Vinyasa (for all)

@ Wisborough Green

x x x

7pm

Sunday Night Relaxation

Session

(Meditation, Restorative Yoga,

Yoga Nidra)

(Last Sunday of the Month)

 

Start your yoga journey

 

I will be running a four week course for complete beginners in a beautiful yurt in Warnham. Course dates are 13th and 20th May and 3rd and 10th June and the class will be running from 6-7pm. 

 

We will cover all the key poses, looking closely at alignment we’ll flow through sun and moon salutations. As we learn to move consciously with our breath to stretch, release and strengthen the body, mind and spirit. I will be sharing simple mindfulness and meditation techniques along with introducing our yogis to ancient breath work techniques to calm the mind, cleanse the body and slow the system right down.

 

I also run monthly “Creativity for Well-Being” Yoga and Art retreats at the Sussex Country Yurt with my great friend and fellow yogi Ellie Green of the Surrey Art School. These super slow days are dedicated to deep relaxation and nurture and are a wonderful little escape from our busy day-to-day lives. 

 

Our next Creativity for Well-Being Yoga and Art Retreat dates are as follows:

 

Sunday 28th April :: Rise and Shine Spring Retreat (FULLY BOOKED)

Sunday 2nd June :: An Exploration of the Chakras

Wednesday 3rd June :: An Afternoon in the Garden @ the Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden 

 

All my classes can be booked through my website : www.gloyoga.co.uk or if you would like to get in touch please email me at gloldfield@hotmail.com

You can also find me on facebook www.facebook.com/gloyogasussex and Instagram glo_yoga_sussex 

 

Namaste xx

 

 

 

 

Posted by Naomi Earnshaw
15th April 2019

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