You might think of Yoga as a flowing, strengthening and stretching in a series of flowing movements that benefit overall health; and yes it can be!
But Yoga can also be used to reduce stress and help you relax. If you can breathe, you can do Yoga. The following are simple, yet effective ways that anyone can use to reduce stress and anxiety, relax and prepare for sleep, regardless of previous experience, age, or mobility. The following steps outline simple, yet effective technique using breathing to reduce stress and anxiety or to relax and prepare for sleep-regardless of age, experience or ability.
Sit or lie down on a comfortable surface. Feel your body completely supported by the surface you have chosen. Make sure you are a comfortable temperature and will not be distracted by phone calls, animals or people.
1.) Place your left hand over the top of your chest (breast bone) and your right hand over your belly. (Try changing your hands around to see what works best for YOU).
2.) Relax your eyes by closing them or softening your gaze. Place your tongue in your lower palette and focus on feeling your breath at the tip of your nose. (If your nose is plugged breathe through your mouth, preferably pursed lips to slow the breath).
3.) Draw the breath into your belly; feel your belly expand into your hand and then into your chest, pushing your belly and chest out on your inhale. Then exhale focusing on your breath moving out of your body as your hands soften towards your spine. Breathe in and out slowly counting in for four, out for four (In your mind’s eye, say to yourself “IN, 2, 3, 4…OUT 2, 3, 4… IN 2, 3, 4…OUT 2, 3, 4…”.
Notice the pause between the inhale and exhale. Count for ten breaths (in and out equals one round) and then return to your natural breath. Notice how you feel.
Slowly bring movement back into your body by wiggling your toes and fingers, making small movements. Flutter your eyes open and carefully ease your body into a more active position.
Return to the practice whenever you need.
Tip: Try to relax just 5% more with each out-breath, imagining a layer of yourself dissolving each time.
Do not hold your breath. If you feel dizzy or lightheaded, open your eyes and return to your natural breath.
Jennifer Dibnah is a certified Yoga and Meditation teacher with a degree in Psychology. She teaches people how to find balance, compassion and appreciate their bodies using Yoga, Meditation, Psychology and many other techniques. Her passion is teaching people how to breathe, de-stress, manage anxiety and ultimately live their best life.
Want Jennifer’s FREE 15-minute guided meditation MP3? Get it here!