Breathe Your Stress Away! A Workout with Roxanne

3 poses to reduce tension and stress, using the breath as your focal point to connect your mind/body/spirit in the present moment.

Celebrations and social activities are in full swing this time of year. It’s also a time when we may feel the stress and pressure of the season and take little to NO time to get back in touch with the rhythm of our body. This can lead to feelings of overwhelm, exhaustion and/or crankiness, which is counterproductive to the celebratory atmosphere of the holiday season, and can manifest in tightness, soreness and possibly pain in our body.

The goal is to relax the body and mind as much as possible, so whatever you can do to support yourself in each pose will be of benefit. The most important part of each exercise is the breathing. If you don’t ‘do’ any of the poses, even just sitting or lying with eyes closed and focusing on breathing will bring you relaxation and connectedness to your body. When the mind begins to race or you find yourself thinking about the past or the future, bring your awareness back to your breath happening in your body right now, in the present.

Feel free to try any one, or all three of these poses. Give yourself a minimum of 2 minutes, up to 5 minutes, in each pose. If all you have is 2 minutes, just do the breathing exercise. For maximum benefits, join me Thursdays at 12 p.m. or Kendyl Saturdays at 9:30 a.m. for TRX Yoga!

Recommended Props:

  • Timer

  • Strap or band (or T-shirt!)

  • Pillows or yoga blocks

  • Blankets or bolster

  • Optional: Add an eye pillow to the back-lying poses and really let your awareness go inward and feel what is happening in your body.

Breathing

  • Inhale through the nose and exhale through the mouth. Fill the belly and back first, then the chest, then empty the chest first followed by belly and back.

  • For the first 5 breaths, count to 8 with every inhale, holding at the top of the inhale for 1 count, and then count to 8 as you exhale, holding at the bottom of the exhale for 1 count. After this, let your breath come in and out naturally.

  • Practice this breathing with each of the following poses, or alone for a quick reset of your mind/body/spirit connection.

Legs Up the Wall

**This pose is not recommended if you have extra tight glutes and/or cannot relax with your legs up and hips neutral. If you feel pain or discomfort in your low back due to tightness, skip this pose.**

This looks like it sounds: lie with your glutes within an inch or two of (or touching) the wall, making sure your hips are in a neutral position (not tucked under).

Option to add a band or strap around your calves or thighs to keep your legs together. I have even put my legs into a t-shirt for support all the way up and down the legs.

  • As you inhale: think of your spine elongating, with your head reaching away from the wall and your tailbone reaching towards the wall.

  • As you exhale: think of your spine melting into the floor.

Supported Reclined Cobbler’s Pose

Start by rolling a blanket and align your spine with the rolled up blanket, being sure the roll supports the head as well. Bring the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall open, keeping neutral hips. If your hips roll back, add pillows or blocks under the knees for support. Extend your arms, palms up, at about 30-45 degrees from the torso.

Option to add weight on top of your knees.

  • As you inhale, feel the belly and back expand and spine elongate

  • As you exhale, feel the tops of your shoulders drawing back towards the floor as your shoulder blades tuck in against the back of your ribs and spine sink into the blanket or bolster

Supported Child’s Pose

Start kneeling on your knees. Add padding under your knees if you feel any discomfort. Sit back on 2-3 pillows or a bolster, or wherever you feel supported. Stack enough pillows and/or blankets and/or bolsters to support your belly and chest and head. Anchor your hips down as you extend your spine over the support in front of you. Relax your arms to either side, reaching overhead and then let your elbows bend down and your shoulders relax. Rotate your head to face the right side. Switch sides every minute or two. Close your eyes and relax into this supported pose.

I wish you a relaxing and calm holiday season!