April marks the beginning of Stress Awareness Month. How often do you end the day, slumped on the sofa completely beat and defeated? In the past year, over 74% of UK adults expressed feelings of severe stress and as a result felt overwhelmed, unable to cope and in some extreme cases, experienced suicidal thoughts. This is an illustration of the burgeoning nation-wide stress pandemic. Now more than ever, it is important that we take the time to manage stress and improve our health and personal wellbeing.
Rather than turning to sugary snacks or a bottle of wine, why not give yoga a try? You hear friends, colleagues and online influencers raving about the new pose they’ve mastered or the invigorating class they attended this evening. Why is everyone discussing yoga? Yoga is a quick and simple yet effective method that can help alleviate stress. Stress Awareness Month is a great time to explore the benefits of yoga, improve your personal wellness and learn how to use stress as a source of creative and productive fuel.
YOGA POSE 1: SIDE STRETCH
When we are stressed, the muscles in our neck, head and shoulders tense up, which restricts blood circulation. As a result, we might suffer a migraine, a headache, sore shoulders or a stiff neck. The side stretch is an easy yoga pose suitable for all yogis, from beginners to advanced. This pose will release the knots in our neck and shoulders and provide a therapeutic approach to lowering blood pressure, reducing anxiety and diminishing fatigue.
Step 1: Cross the legs.
Step 2: Extend one hand and rest on the floor, away from the body.
Step 3: Drop your head onto the resting arm’s shoulder.
Step 4: Stretch the other arm over your head.
Step 5: Hold for 15 seconds and focus on inhaling and exhaling the breath.
Step 6: Repeat for the other side.
YOGA POSE 2: DOWNWARD-FACING DOG
One of the most well-known and popular yoga poses, the downward-facing dog offers a wide range of benefits. This pose puts most — if not all — of the muscles in the body to work. Strengthening and stretching the muscles is the key purpose behind this yoga pose, helping to invigorate the mind and body. A common pose suitable for beginners and advanced yogis alike, it’s a great option for those looking to stretch the arms and legs after a long day at work.
Step 1: Come to a tabletop position on your yoga mat.
Step 2: Align the wrists underneath your shoulders, knees under the hips and tuck the toes in.
Step 3: Spread fingers as wide as possible in front of you.
Step 4: Push the hips up towards the sky, stretching the arms and legs, so the body forms an upturned V. Make sure head is facing downwards to avoid a crunch in the neck, breaking up the flow of energy.
Step 5: Hold in position for 30-60 seconds, focusing on breath-work.
YOGA POSE 3: MOUNTAIN POSE
The mountain pose is a powerful move for releasing tightness in the chest and restoring awareness to the centre. This is a straightforward pose great for improving bad posture and gaining clarity of mind.
Step 1: Stand comfortably, feet at hip-width apart planted flat on the mat
Step 2: Bring arms over your head, palms forward facing and fingers spread apart
Step 3: Gently, bend backwards pushing your abdomen forward
Step 4: Hold for 15-30 seconds — or longer if you wish — breathing deeply through the nose
YOGA POSE 4: HAPPY BABY POSE
As the name suggests, this pose aims to bring you into a relaxed, happy and even playful mood. When we are happy, we release what are commonly referred to as “happy hormones” helping us to experience and feel joy. A prolonged bout of happiness allows the body and mind to build resilience to negative emotions and stress-induced health conditions. This pose is suitable for those looking for a challenge but is still simple enough to be achieved by beginners. It also makes a great option for a sedentary office worker, feeling stiff in the hips and knees.
Step 1: Lie down flat on your back.
Step 2: Pull your knees into your chest.
Step 3: With your hands, grab your feet and pull down towards your chest.
Step 4: Gently push your feet into your hands while your hands pull your feet down.
Step 5: Hold for 15-30 seconds.
*Note: If the pull is too intense, repeat step 4 and 5 by grabbing your thighs instead
YOGA POSE 5: SEATED SPINAL TWIST
Though it may sound complicated, the seated spinal twist is a straightforward and effective pose to calm erratic nerves and soothe any areas of stress in the body. This yoga pose focuses on the shoulders, hips, neck and — most importantly — the spine.
Step 1: Sit down on your mat, legs straight in front of you.
Step 2: Cross your right leg over your left thigh, right foot flat and firm on the mat.
Step 3: Bring your left foot back to the outside of your right hip.
Step 4: Twist your body toward the inside of your right thigh as you exhale.
Step 5: Bring your right hand on the floor behind your body.
Step 6: Press your left upper arm against your right knee.
Step 7: Gently pull your torso and right thigh inwards against each other.
Step 8: Hold the pose for 15-30 seconds, focusing on breath work before switching to the left side.
YOGA FOR STRESS RELIEF
We are constantly battling the challenges of daily life which often causes us to neglect our health. To achieve optimal physical and mental health, we must take care of our personal wellness. Yoga has proven benefits including stress relief and an enhanced ability to cope with the challenges of daily life. If you struggle to find time to kickstart a new health regime amid your busy daily routine, consider treating yourself to a yoga retreat in a new and tranquil environment. Learn the skills you need to continue your journey to greater wellbeing long after the retreat ends. As spring nears, awaken your energy and restore harmony to your mind and body with a pinch of Namaste.
Author Bio – Katherine is now the Content and Marketing Manager at Balance Holidays, a bespoke wellness retreats curator. She is no stranger to the industry trends and wishes to use her extended knowledge and creative writing skills to inspire individuals with the importance of taking care of personal wellbeing.