A light yoga practice

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Yesterday I did a post about the stress response.  Today I put together a little yoga practice that might help deactivate the stress response to calm the body and mind.  Part of the practice is seated.  If you sit in a chair make sure you can keep your feet flat on the floor. We’ll start with breathing, then some movement, some more breath work, and then a silent reflection.*

Focus Breath

  •  Start by focusing your attention on your breath.  Don’t try to change it, just notice.
  • You can close your eyes or just look downLet all the air out of your lungs and then just breath in and out
  • Do this for 3-4 rounds

Arm movement

  • Sit up a little straighter and clasp your hand together in front of you.
  • As you breathe in reach your palms up toward the ceiling
  • As you breathe out bring your hands back down to your lap
  • As you breathe in count to 4
  • As you breath out count to 8
  • Make this rhythm of your breath  and arms for 4-5 rounds

Chair Cat/Cow

  • Let’s move our spine now
  • Breathe in and draw your shoulders back
  • When you breath out bring the shoulders forward and chin down
  • If you want more of a stretch make larger movements. For example, when you breathe in bring the shoulders back and life the center of your chest.  When you breathe out found the back and pull your belly in as you bring your chin to your chest.
  • Try 4-5 rounds

Mountain Pose

  •  Mountain pose helps us feel our feet firmly planted on the floor so we cen feel connected and focused.
  • Stand up with your feet pointing forward, parallel to each other.
  • Breathe in and lift the top of your head as if your balancing something on it
  • Breathe out and let your shoulders and arms relax
  • Continue breathing in and out for 4-5 rounds

Mountain Pose Variations

  •  Close your eyes or look down
  • Lean slightly forward and notice how it feels to have your weight shift
  • Lean back and notice how it feels to feel your weight shift
  • Experiment going back and forth a few more times and come to center
  • Now try shifting your weight to the right side, and pause
  • Do the same on the left
  • Try experimenting a few more time going right and left and come back to center
  • Now begin to sway in a slow circle to see how the shift of weight feels in your feet
  • Make your circles smaller and smaller until you find stillness again
  • Find your center of gravity and take a few breaths noticing your feet on the floor and the top of your head reaching up
  • Bring your hands together in front of your chest and take 3 slow deep breaths
  • Now, standing up  straight breathe in and raise your hands above your head
  • Breathe out and bring your hands to your chest
  • Try to match the movement with your breath, 3-4 more times
  • Shake your arms out and bring them back by your side

Standing Twists

  •  Bring your feet a bit wider and make sure you have enough distance around you so you don’t hit anything with your arms
  • Let your arms be loose and swing them as you twist from side to side
  • Notice how the air feels as swing your hands
  • To protect your knees, try lifting the opposite heel as you twist to the side
  • Try breathing out each time you turn to the other side for more twists
  • Allow for 30 more seconds
  • Let the twists get smaller until you are still and come back to Mountain Pose with your hands together in front of your chest and take 3 deep breaths here to notice how your body feels

Mindful Breath

  •  Sit back down in your chair with your back straight and feet resting on the floor
  • Once again notice the natural rhythm of your breath
  • See if you can find your pulse by pressing your fingers on your wrist, under your jawbone, or on the left side of your chest.
  • Notice the rhythm of your heartbeat as you breathe
  • If you have a hard time finding the heartbeat, don’t worry, it’s in there somewhere.  Sometimes it’s hard to find
  • You may notice the heart beats faster when you inhale, it gives the body more energy and the heart beats faster
  • When we exhale, the body relaxes more and the heart beat slows down
  • That’s why when we did the focus breath in the beginning.  We inhaled for 4, and exhales for 8
  • Try the Focus Breath again from the beginning.  Inhale 4 and exhale 8
  • Find your rhythm and count
  • Repeat 4-5 rounds

Silent Reflection

  •  Sit in the chair for one more minute and notice how your body feels
  • Close your eyes or just look down to help you concentrate
  • Notice your feet on the floor and legs relaxes
  • Notice where your arms and hands are, and relax your shoulders
  • Notice your breath
  • Allow the muscles in your face to relax as you breathe

How do you feel?  If you could rate your level of stress right now from 1-10, what would it be?  Why?

Yoga can happen anywhere or at anytime.  Even just doing a few of the deep breathing exercises can help make you feel more connected and to help find some ease in your day.

*(Remember that you are your own best judge of what feels good for yourself or for your students. This is how I usually sequence a practice for myself and for students.)

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