Many of us feel immense pressure to do it all, leaving us with strenuous workdays and stressful home lives. Even our leisure activities can be wrought with anxiety as we push ourselves through strenuous workouts that leave us depleted instead of energized. The problem is that living our lives this way only makes us more unbalanced and unwell. I truly believe that the most important thing you can to do is take a step back to unwind and relax at the end of each day.
When I'm dealing with a stressful period of time and need a mindful release, this is my very favorite sequence.
1. Seated meditation.
Ending your day with a meditation can help you release stress. I begin almost all of my sessions with a seated meditation. To start, sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take a few moments to check in and notice how you feel from the day. Be kind to yourself, as every day is different. Scan your body from head to toe and notice areas you may be holding on to tensions and tightness. Next, begin to notice and observe your breath.
Focus your inhale on areas where you feel that you have built up tension from the day—hips and shoulders are the most common areas of tension. On the exhale, release everything built up in these areas. Aside from being an effective stress reliever, meditation also helps improve concentration, productivity, creativity, sleep, sex drive, and overall well-being.
2. Melting heart pose.
This pose is one of my favorite poses for stretching out the spine, shoulders, and upper back. Many of my clients spend the whole day at the computer and walk away from the day with sloped shoulders and poor posture. Not only does this pose help lengthen and align your spine, but it is also an absolutely divine stretch that helps decrease tension, anxiety, and insomnia.
3. Camel pose.
Camel pose is a wonderful, restorative heart opener. It will help you stretch and open your entire front body, including your belly, chest, throat, hip flexors, thighs, and ankles as well as release any stress, worry, and negative emotions.
4. Pigeon pose.
Pigeon pose is a simple, effective way to loosen all of the emotional junk that we build up throughout the workday. Most people have a love/hate relationship with this pose—I always tell my clients to breathe into the tight and tense areas and with every exhale it will release little by little. Pigeon pose also provides a deep stretch for your glutes and psoas muscles, which can help relieve back pain and sciatica.
5. Seated twist.
Twists are incredibly restorative as they massage the digestive organs and aid in kidney and liver detoxification and help relieve gas, bloating, and constipation. Twists also help reduce fatigue and anxiety. On every inhale, lengthen your spine, and on the exhale, twist to deepen further into the pose. Repeat for 10 deep breaths.
6. Reclined big toe.
Tight hamstrings are a common ailment. Sitting in your office and car can really destroy your hamstring flexibility, which can throw your whole body out of whack. This stretch helps loosen all of your leg tension that has built up throughout the day. This pose will also help relieve lower back pain, sciatica, digestive problems, and menstrual discomfort. If you can't reach your toes, be sure to use a strap. Flex the extended leg on floor, press the thigh down, and make sure not to let hips lift. On the elevated leg, press up through the heel and draw the toes back. These small adjustments make all the difference.
7. Goddess on blocks.
I love this pose, and using blocks will help to deepen your practice. Place the blocks between your scapula, lay back, and breathe into this luscious restorative pose for up to 30 minutes. This pose helps curtail fatigue, insomnia, stress, and mild depression as well as lower blood pressure and stimulate heart and general circulation.
8. Legs up the wall.
This pose is my favorite pose to do right before bedtime. It is a gentle inversion that helps recirculate blood flow, calm the nervous system, and will almost immediately help you feel relaxed and rejuvenated.
Savasana helps you relax the whole body and calm your mind, which can reduce fatigue and balance your nervous system. Savasana is also good for relieving headaches and lowering blood pressure. Breathe deep and enjoy!
Want more proof that mindful yoga can change your life? Here's one woman's experience.
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