Guest Author - Tracy Webb
Exercise is the perfect way to assist with reducing stress. Since Yoga is not just a physical practice, it works on a deeper level as the mind and emotions are also benefited.
Practicing yoga brings about harmony and balance of the mind, body and spirit. When practiced correctly and regularly, the benefits you can receive may surprise you. Effects can be felt emotionally, physically and spiritually.
To help combat and reduce stress, I would recommend 20 minutes of yoga stretches, 10 to 20 minutes of pranayama and 15 to 20 minutes sitting meditation. The combination of these three helps to quiet the mind, strengthen the body and keep us present in each moment.
Present moment awareness is the key to reducing stress. When you are focused solely on what you are doing, there is no room for stress. Stress usually comes from anticipation of what is to come or regret of what has gone. We can only deal with what is in front of us, not something that is perceived or expected to happen.
Practicing asana is a great way to wake the body up after sleep. The following suggestions will stretch and energize the body ready for the day ahead.
Salute To The Sun
Half Lord of The Fishes
Yogic breathing is a powerful practice. They can assist with bringing focus, clarity and peace to the mind. Some people like to practice pranayama before their stretches, while others prefer to do it after. You can decide which way works best for you. I like to do pranayama after stretching and before meditation because of the calming effect it has on the mind.
Bastrika Pranayama – Bellows Breath
Anulom Vilom – Alternate Nostril Breath
Bhramari Pranayama – Bee Breath
When you meditate regularly, it becomes easier to maintain mindfulness throughout the day. Meditation is more than sitting cross legged on the floor; it is a practice of daily mindfulness that can be used in all situations.
While sitting for 15 minutes or more silently in meditation is beneficial, it is the practical uses it has that bring the most benefits. This simple technique can help to calm the mind, and bring awareness to how you are feeling at any given time.
The First Stage Of Mindfulness
• Sit comfortably, and ensure there are no distractions.
• Close your eyes.
• Notice your natural breathing rhythm and do not try to force the breath.
• Start counting at the end of each out breath.
• Count one, breath in, breath out, count two. All the way up to ten, then start again at one.
This can be done with eyes open when washing the dishes, eating, walking, driving or any other activity you are involved in. It is also beneficial when sitting silently as it occupies the mind and works to challenge the wandering mind.