Holiday De-stress:

Take the time to PAUSE, your Mind & Body will thank you

As much as we try to stay balanced and breath through it….we just can’t deny that this time of year brings added stress. A little inkling of stress and your mind-body knows just what to do: increase your blood pressure, build tension in the muscles, createa short/rapid breath cycle and ramp up production of your body’s stress hormones (cortisol). And maybe you can handle this for a short time, but continue this cycle and you feel out of control by the end of the week. So when you’ve tried to find parking for 20 minutes, stood in line at the store for half an hour, waited in traffic for an hour and are finally abe to get off the race track and be present……use these few simple exercises/poses to de-stress and revive. You’re mind-body will thank you for it. And you’ll be ready to tackle the next lot. Because if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of those that need you.

1.Stand in Mountain Pose (Tadasana). Feet hip width apart. Starting at your feet, lift the toes, spread them wide and place them on the ground starting from the pinky toe, all the way into the big toe. Sense the connection of the foot with the ground. Pressing up from the feet, lift the knee-caps upward by tightening the thighs. Stack the hips on top of the feet, drawing the navel slightly towards the spine. Lift up from the base of the skull, drawing the ears in line with the shoulders. Close your eyes if you are comfortable with your balance. Take a moment to feel the grounding effects of lifting from your feet to the crown of the head. Allow some gentle abdominal (diaphragmatic) breaths. **Better yet, try this standing in the dirt, in the grass, on the sand—really get close to the EARTH. 

2. From Mountain Pose to Extended Mountain Pose, grounding the feet towards the ground, inhale the arms overhead. Exhale draw them down by your sides. Repeat 2-5x. If you would like add a Side Bend, upon inhaling the arms up, wrap your Right hand around your Left wrist and reach up towards the sky. Exhale, slightly lean over towards the Right. Hold for 2-3 breaths. Exhale the arms back to the sides. Repeat other side, this time wrapping your Left hand around your Right wrist and exhaling towards the Left.

3. Stand or Sit for Eagle Arms (partial Garudasana). Raise the arms in front of you, wrapping your Right elbow over your Left. Intertwine the hands so the palms are touching. If this is not possible just touch the backs of the hands together. Lift the elbows slightly and draw the shoulder blades back and down. Relax the eyes and jaw as you take 3-5 abdominal breath cycles. Soft gaze/focus forward. Repeat other side. **Alternative: if you are unable to cross the arms in the way, see the alternate picture. Reach the Right arm out straight, bend the elbow and place the Right hand on the back of the Left shoulder (as if to pat yourself on the back). Using the Left hand at the Right elbow, draw the Right elbow across your body. Hold for 3-5 breath cycles and then repeat other side.

4. Standing in front of a chair or counter for Standing Downward Facing Dog (modified Adho Mukha Svanasana). Place hands on the back or seat of a chair or on a counter or desk. Bending at the hips, begin to walk your feet back until your feel that your torso and your thighs are somewhat at a 90 degree angle. You may keep your knees bent. Feel your feet grounding into the floor, lengthen out through the back of the hips and allow the ears to come in line with the shoulders. Stay here for 3-5 breath cycles or as long as you need. When you are ready to come out, bend the knees and walk forward, slowing rising up to Mountain Pose.

5. Finally, prepare for Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani). Place a folding blanket close to the wall. Roll on your side and shift your hips onto the blanket. You want your hips a distance from the wall that allows your hamstrings (back of your legs) space to breath. If your hamstrings are tight, you want to be farther from the wall. Place your legs up the wall, arms along your sides with palms facing up. You may use an eye pillow over your eyes for deeper relaxation. If you don’t have an eye pillow, a folded pillow case works nicely (add a few drops of Lavender or Peppermint for more calming effect). Stay here for as long as you need, allowing the abdomen to gently rise and fall. Each exhale softens the face and jaw. Stay up to 10 minutes. **Alternative: see the alternate picture, using a chair to elevate the legs works just as well and may be easier to enter and exit the pose.

Give yourself permission to PAUSE during the hustle and bustle that this time of year brings. If you can’t do all of these, at least try Mountain Pose. Love this one!  It’s just enough of a reset button to get you ready to be ENGAGED and PRESENT in the next moment.

I welcome your feedback and if you find this information helpful, please share with your colleagues and your friends. Contact Tianna to see how she can help you with your health.

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