Heading back to work or school after the summer holidays can be a stressful time. The craziness of the summer comes to an end and suddenly you’re back behind your desk feeling a little low. Yoga can contribute to getting you back on track and back to your optimum state of wellbeing in many ways. The best place to start is with your breath.
The breath can be your key for stress relief. Can you believe that many of us in our whole lifetime will never ever take a conscious breath? When we deepen the breath we tap into the parasympathetic nervous system our ‘rest and digest’ system – it helps to calm the mind, lowers the heart rate and reduces our blood pressure. By breathing in this way we can reduce stress and its effects on your body and mind. As you continue to practise these techniques over time, you will become more self- aware and this awareness will help shift your thought patterns and processes. Through regular practise breathing properly can create a really positive change in your life.
Basic breath awareness is a gentle introduction to breathing in a way that is more full and conscious, quieting and calming the entire nervous system. I would suggest trying this at least once a day, maybe before the day starts or it can be used anytime you start to feel a little stressed (even when you’re at your desk!).
- Lie comfortably on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor about hip-distance apart or if you’re at your desk sit tall, relax the shoulders and sit evening on the sit bones. Place a palm on your belly and the other hand on top, close your eyes and breathe comfortably for a few moments, noticing the quality of your breath. Simply observe the breath without any judgment.
- Then gradually begin to make your breathing as relaxed and smooth as possible, introducing a slight pause after each inhale and exhale.
- Once the breath feels relaxed and comfortable, notice the movement of the body. As you inhale, the abdomen naturally expands; as you exhale, feel the slight contraction of the abdomen. In a gentle way, try to actively expand the belly on the inhale like you are filling up a balloon and contract the belly on the exhale to support the natural movement of the diaphragm and experience the pleasure of giving yourself a full, relaxed breath. Continue the practice for 6 to 12 breaths.Every yoga class I teach starts with a breathing practise to bring your focus and attention to your practise whilst calming the body and mind. Try this basic breathing practise daily for a week and observe how it affects your body, breath, and mind. Giving your brain some space to focus after the hectic holidays is exactly what it needs before plunging back into those email inboxes. As we head back into the daily grind, ensure that your wellbeing comes first and give yourself a little bit of time to get back into the swing of it.
Words & Pictures: Jenny Stewart – Yoga teacher .