Serious about Self-Care – yoga practices for stress relief
Recharging yourself is a basic human need. With our times speeding up and the many challenges the world faces, self-care is not a luxury, but a necessity. Here are some of our team’s favourite ways to use yoga practices for self-care. With some focused ways of recharging, you give yourself the power to orchestrate your own inner harmony, balance, wellbeing, and physical, emotional, and spiritual health.
We all know that stress is not good for us. And most of us have yoga techniques and practices that help reduce stress. But maybe we don’t practice them often enough to really reap the benefits we could. Not all of us have time for a daily yoga class of 90 min. But that doesn’t mean we should skip practice all together. Even though setting aside 15-20 min for some loving self-care may not seem much, in the end, it will give you amazing results in terms of stress reduction and cultivating calmness and happiness. So, well worth it! So what can you do in 20 min?
Tip: Do your short calming practice in the evening to ensure deeper and better quality sleep.
Tip: Plan your self-care practices ahead of time, just like you would a meeting.
1. Practice pranayama
Slow deep breathing decreases anxiety and increases relaxation. It allows oxygen into your bloodstream and triggers endorphins, which produce feelings of happiness and contentment. Practice nadi shodana, 3 phase yogic breath, or box breathing (inhale 4 counts, hold the breath 4 counts, exhale 4 counts & repeat).
Meditation reduces levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, by increasing alpha or even theta waves in the brain. If you find it difficult to meditate without guidance, try Hayhouse meditations on spotify or find a teacher you like on YouTube. Another solution might be reading our meditation guide, which will show you many meditation exercises. This way you can find a practice that suits you the best!
3. Practice movement
You can take a simple sun salutation practice and slow it way down, taking several breaths in each pose. Thai chi or chi gong is also a beautiful way to slow-move. Or try the 10 mindful movements by Thich Nhat Hanh or this ecstatic dance meditation. There are so many ways to move mindfully that help you get out of your mind and back into your body and feel more grounded. Movement helps you to release stagnant energies and increases the flow of prana or chi.
4. Practice calming yoga poses.
Calming poses, such as forward folding positions and upper backbends, are the perfect method of self-care. They reduce muscle tension, calm the nervous system, and promote restful sleep. They also help decrease stress hormones, like adrenaline and cortisol. In 20 min, you can do a short yin yoga sequence of 3 – 5 poses. For us, the key is to have a plan for your practice, especially if you are a beginner. Then you don’t lose time wondering what poses to do, and how to do them.
5. Practice gratitude
Take time to cultivate gratitude, whether you incorporate the feelings and thoughts of gratitude in your practice, or keep a gratitude journal. Making gratitude a daily practice, helps cultivate a positive attitude and mindset. Gratitude is one of the easiest practices to bring joy and happiness to your life.