We love having an easily accessible reprieve in the stress-inducing modern world we live in. Sometimes when life gets overwhelming, the best thing to do is to take a few moments out that are just for you: time in which you can unwind and remind yourself of the constant availability of the most soothing palliative, the breath. The breath and body will always be there for you no matter what storms may fall, no matter what rowdy ruckus is pervading your external world. So take a few moments out and witness your breathe and your body in one of these anxiety-alleviating poses:
Sukhasana may translate to “easy” but with focused intention you can make it as difficult as you want. Although this pose is not physically rigorous, it allows you to practice mindful awareness of your breath, of the pull of gravity, and of your spinal alignment. We know, it sounded easy, but turns out to be quite demanding!
We suggest elevating your hips on a folded blanket, to encourage the proper pelvic alignment. Fold a blanket in two, and sit on it with your legs crossed in front of you. Rest your hands palm up on your thighs, allowing your fingers to uncurl and relax. This is a good position in which to become familiar with the tendencies of your spine. Start to notice whether your lower back arches, pushing your ribs forward, or whether you tend to hunch over, letting your lower back collapse. As you breathe, try to find a balance in between these two extremes. Mental poise and a relaxed mind follow physical integrity and balance.
Child’s pose is a wonderful pose for recouping and calming the mind. Like the name suggests, the physical position takes us back to infancy, and offers a warmth and solace that we probably only ever experienced in the womb!
Kneel on the floor, and then split your knees about hip-width apart. Touch your big toes together and rest your forehead on the floor, allowing your torso to rest on and between your thighs. Allow your arms to rest alongside your body, palms face up. Breathe deeply, and with each exhale allow your hips to sink further down towards your heels. Stay in this pose as long as you like, focusing on your breathe and on the warmth that the pose creates within you.
3 & 4. Marjariasana and Bitilasana (Cat/Cow Poses)
A lot of the tension that we feel in our bodies is kept in our backs. The beginning of alleviating that tension is to bring slow, methodical motions to the spine. Through the combination of cat and cow poses we introduce fluidity to our backs and feel the relaxing effects of this movement.
Begin on your hands and knees in a tabletop position. Your hands should be shoulder width apart, and your knees should be hip width apart. Your neck is neutral, with your eyes resting on the floor directly below them. As you inhale, arch your spine, lifting your sitting bones towards the ceiling and drawing your shoulder blade down your back as you lift your head so that your gaze is now in front of you. As you exhale, round your spine, and release your head so that it hangs effortlessly towards the floor. Repeat these two motions as you continue to breathe. Observe the harmony of your breathe and your movements.
The most relaxing pose but also the hardest to master is corpse pose. The pose seems incredibly simple: just lay there. But because we are so habituated to constant movement, and constant thought, inertia has become an almost unattainable ideal. In this pose we practice the art of doing nothing.
Lay back on your mat with your legs extended and your arms resting beside you, palms facing the ceiling. Allow your feet to fall away from one another. Let your shoulders fall below your ears. Observe your physical body. Feel the evenly distributed weight of your right and left sides. Let your tongue fall away from the roof of your mouth. This is the time to observe if there is any tension in your body. Scan your fingertips, your wrists, arms, inner elbows. Feel the space between your toes. Let go of the vacillations of your mind as you surrender to the pull of gravity.
Remember, these poses are available to you anytime, anywhere. They are your antidote to stress, so make use of them. Enjoy!