Today's world is a crazy one. Early mornings, traffic jams, working lunches and late nights. These are just a few of the day-to-day occurrences that lead to our ever increasing stress. Currently, women in the U.S. report higher levels of stress as compared to men. Women are also more likely to report feeling emotional and physical signs of stress. With stress clearly on the rise, and more women reporting high levels, what can we do to manage our stress on a day-to-day basis? And, maybe without spending a ton of money and time, that we don't have, towards "fixing" it?
In this post, we'll outline our tried-and-true yoga and mindfulness practices for relieving stress and finding zen.
Yoga is an ancient practice that dates back to over 5,000 years ago. Yoga, simply put, is a method that uses the body - with a series of postures - to calm the mind.
Nurse Suzie's favorite sequence for stress relief (Suzie is a 200 hr CYT):
Before you start a practice, find a quiet and peaceful space to lay out your mat or towel. Try (I know it's hard) to find a place where you won't get interrupted. Also, pick a time of day that works for you. I like early am or evenings. However, you might like the middle of the day.
1) Come into a Child's Pose. Shins are on the mat, knees wide, butt to heels and chest folds forward to rest on your thighs. Let your forehead press into the mat and stretch your arms long in front of you.
Stay in Child's Pose for a few cycles of breath. Follow your inhales and exhales.
2) From Child's Pose, come to a tabletop position and roll through the spine. Arch your back like a cat, then curve the back like a cow. Do all this while breathing slow, even breaths.
3) Move into a downward facing dog - bend and straighten the legs. Stay here for 10 deep breaths.*
4) From down dog, roll into high plank and then back to down dog. Repeat 5 times with the breaths.
5) Next, flow into a low crescent warrior with the right leg in front. Move back to down dog and repeat on the left side. Make sure to lower the back knee in this pose.
6) From down dog, take pigeon on the right side. Stay for 10 breaths, then repeat on the left side. You can also do any other hip opener of your choice.
7) After pigeon on both sides, come into butterfly pose on the mat. Keep your feet about a foot-width's distance from your pelvic floor; this gets deeper into the outer thighs.
8) Reach the legs long in front of you on the mat for a forward fold. Stay here for 10 breaths.
9) Come onto your back on the mat. Take a supported bridge posture for several deep breaths. Support your low back with a block or a bolster.
10) Finally, end in savasana or seated meditation.
This sequence is just a roadmap of postures for you to try. Remember, you can deviate and try different postures that your body is craving or that help you come deeper into your breath. Either way, yoga is a beautiful tool to help you lower your stress and move through the day-to-day chaos.
*Deep breathing: Inhale through your nose for a count of 4. Start by filling up the belly and then the chest. Exhale for a count of 4 again starting with the belly and then the chest.