Stressed? Here's how to chill fast...
Whether you've got 30 seconds or 10 minutes to spare, this collection of easy breathing techniques and simple yoga flows can help clear your mind and calm your body swiftly.
Keep Scrolling To Find More On:
Box Breathing: learn how to calm your breathing to its normal rhythm.
A 10-minute yoga flow: designed to help calm and relax your body.
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You've probably heard it all before. "Yoga is good to help you de-stress." "Yoga is so relaxing."
But seriously, it is! I know yoga isn't going to be everyone's cup of tea, and that's totally cool. But I'd like to share with you two little gems to keep you zen for those times when you perhaps feel like those rapid little butterflies are trying to beat uncontrollably out of your chest, or when you feel totally overwhelmed by the billion "things I need to do" scrambling around in your head.
To begin, just give yourself permission to stop what you're doing. Relax your shoulders away from your ears and take a deep breath in... and now a deep breath out. Feels good, right?!
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The Beauty Of Breath
The breath is such an incredible thing. We don't normally have to tell ourselves how, or when to breathe and that's because breathing is handled by a subconscious part of the brain called the medulla. This automatically controls our breathing, as well as our heart rate and blood pressure. Now, imagine the possibilities of potential physical and mental healing when you bring full conscious awareness to your breath!
Breathing in yoga isn't always as simple as taking a deep breath in and out. I know myself that this is where it can sometimes be a little overwhelming, especially when it comes to the vast catalogue of pranayama (breathwork) techniques available. So, for today, we're going to keep it nice and simple with a quick, deep breathing exercise.
Short On Time?! Try This Simple And Effective Breathing Exercise:
The breathing technique we're going to focus on today can be done anywhere and at anytime. In Sanskrit, this breathing technique is known as 'Sama Vrtti Pranayama' which means "same breath" - you may have also heard it being referred to as 'box breathing'.
The box breathing technique allows for the breath to return to its normal rhythm, thus making it super effective for people in stressful situations. It's incredibly calming and super easy to do.
Box Breathing Exercise Overview:
To begin, start in a comfortable position - this can be sitting down or lying down.
Now, think about elongating and lengthening your spine from the very top of your head.
Take a nice deep inhale through your nose for a slow count of four.
Hold the air in at the top of your inhale for a slow count of four.
Exhale out through your nose for a slow count of four.
Hold the air out at the bottom of your exhale for a slow count of four.
Repeat the full box breathing cycle for a further 5-10 rounds, or until you feel the soothing benefits on your body.
If at any point you start to feel a little light-headed or the breath feels too lengthly, please feel free to cut your box breathing exercise down to a count of 3, or a count of 2 in each part of the cycle - whatever works for you.
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Have 10 Minutes To Spare? Try This Calming Yoga Flow:
10-Minute Restorative Yoga Sequence
In this 10-minute restorative yoga sequence, I've included forward folding postures which help create a calming effect throughout your central nervous system, thus producing a soothing effect on your mind and body.
My biggest tip for folding forward poses is to allow gravity to do its job. Don't worry about touching your toes - that'll all come in good time and practice.
Okay, so let's cue back in that box breathing to help bring you back into a calm, relaxed state. And we begin...
Pose 1: Child's Pose
Sanskrit Name: Bālāsana
Begin on all fours, bringing your knees slightly wider than hip width apart and your toes together.
Sink your hips back into your heels, extend your arms out in front and relax your forehead down towards the ground.
From child's pose, take 3 full cycles of box breathing.
Tip: feel free to place a cushion underneath your forehead if it feels good.
Pose 2: Cat-Cow Pose
Sanskrit Name: Marjaryasana Bitilasana
From child's pose, roll up through your spine and shift your way back up onto all fours. Your hands should be lined up under your shoulders, fingers spread wide. Have your knees directly underneath your hips.
As you inhale - begin to drop your tummy towards the ground, roll your shoulder blades down and back, and gently lift your chin (this is the 'Cow' part of the pose).
As you exhale - tuck your tailbone in, round through your spine, draw your chin in towards your chest and actively push the floor away (this is the 'Cat' part of the pose).
Repeat the cat-cow movements 5 times in total.
Tip: feel free to make these movements as flowy and juicy as you like.
Pose 3: Downward Facing Dog
Sanskrit Name: Adho Mukha Svanasana
From all fours (cat-cow pose), tuck your toes underneath and exhale as you send your hips up towards the sky. Actively press through both hands - be mindful that your shoulders stay away from your ears.
Relax your tummy towards your thighs and feel free to bend your knees as much as you like.
Hold the downward facing dog for 3 full cycles of box breathing.
Pose 4: Seated Forward Fold
Sanskrit Name: Paschimottanasana
From downward facing dog, begin to walk your feet and hands towards one another, you can then gently begin to lower your hips towards your heels.
Sit yourself down on the ground and extend your legs out in front of you. Inhale as you extend your arms overhead.
As you exhale, begin to fold forward from the waist. Again, be generous and feel free to bend your knees as much as you like.
Hold the seated forward fold for 3 full cycles of box breathing.
Pose 5: Reclined Spinal Twist
Sanskrit Name: Supta Matsyendrasana
Take an inhale as you roll your spine back up from your forward fold position. Slowly begin to lower your back and body to the ground.
Keeping your left leg extended, with your left hand hug your right knee into your chest and extend your right arm out to the side so that your body forms a T shape.
Holding your knee with the left hand only, begin to gently draw your knee across your body, over towards the left side.
Take two full cycles of box breathing. Bring yourself back to centre and then repeat the reclined spinal twist on your right hand side.
Tip: feel free to use cushions or blocks to rest under the knee.
Pose 6: Corpse Pose
Sanskrit Name: Savasana
From your final reclined spinal twist, extend both your legs and your arms slightly away from your body, with your palms facing up.
Close your eyes, and get yourself super comfy - feel free to grab a blanket, pillows, anything you need to bring you into a full, relaxed state.
Now simply focus on your breath: notice your inhales and your exhales, your chest rise and fall. Spend as long as you like here in corpse pose - allow yourself to fully surrender into the surface beneath you. I'd recommend a minimum of 5 minutes.
Tip: If you feel as if this this movement is too much for your lower back at any point, please feel to bend your knees and pop a pillow underneath. And relax!
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I hope you felt as though you could take something away from both of these practices today. Feeling creative? Go ahead, make it your own and take as long as you need with both the breath work and the movement.
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Written By: Amy Coles.
Amy Coles is a qualified Yoga Teacher and Holistic Health Coach. Through her training and practice, she explores and shares ideas in all things yoga, wellness & adventure.
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