[Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Kalavati Viv Williams, a long-time yoga practitioner, who shares three simple exercises for releasing tension and stress from our crazy lives.]
Try the first technique to help manifest your positive intentions for change and as an adjunct to meditation. The second and third techniques are great for quickly easing stress. If you have an office or a little privacy they can even be done at work.
1. Sankalpa is a short phrase, like an affirmation, repeated when the mind is most open. So when is that? When can we access the subconscious mind most effectively? When we are in shavasana (yoga deep relaxation). I will assume you are familiar with it from your classes and can do this on your own. Or you can add it at the end of class when you are led by the teacher.
- Simply repeat 3x mentally, a short phrase of what you would like to manifest in your life, a quality or result. For example if you’d like to manifest peacefulness you might repeat: I am peaceful even in difficult situations. Or, Peace is my response. I exude peace.
Qualities such as patience, joyfulness, or gratefulness can be cultivated this way.
2. Tension Release Practice – This is often part of the lovely relaxation at the end of yoga class. You can do it in a chair at work if you have privacy. One method is to hold a deep breath in for 3-5 seconds, then exhale through the mouth slowly. Making a soft “ahhh” sound helps. Release the muscle tension. Here are the steps for another tension releasing technique:
- Sit in a straight back chair
- Flex the feet, lifting toes up, at the same time press your knees out to the side while using hands to press in (like an isometric exercise) So arms and legs tense.
- Press low back into chair, contract abs. At same time raise shoulders up.
- For the arms-make a fist with each hand and lock your elbows. Then after release your fists, stretch your fingers wide apart and release any residual tension from making a fist.
- Finally scrunch your face up like a prune. Raise and lower your eye brows quickly and open the mouth wide as if to yawn to counter any residual tension.
End with eyes closed or lowered, and 2-3 min of simply being aware of whole body from feet to head and then from head to feet. Breath slowly. Calmly open your eyes and go on with your day.
3. Breathing Practice– Here is a simple form of deep yogic breathing that can be done for 5 minutes.
- First, sitting up straight in a chair or on the ground and take a few deep breaths.
- Then place one hand on your belly, below the ribs. Begin to notice the rising of the abdomen as you inhale, and the deflation as you breath out 5-10x. Gently increase that movement.
- Then using both hands cup your side ribs — feel the breath now, not only in the abdomen but in the expansion of the ribs too. Keep shoulders relaxed. 5-10x.
- Finally, place your fingertips 1 inch down from your collarbones in the upper chest. Now feel the rise of the belly, the expansion of the ribs and a slight lift at the top of the chest for 5-10 breaths.
- End by resting your hands down in your lap. Take a minute to notice how you feel before going on with your day.
Kalavati Viv Williams is a holistic wellness educator, writer and artist. She combines her 17 year practice as a certified yoga teacher, massage therapist and longtime mindfulness meditator into her offerings. Visit her blog at http://www.yogablissdance.com, where she shares practical spiritual tools to create change and live your dreams!