You know the dreaded sensations: heart thumping in your chest, mouth as dry as the Sahara, heat rising through your body. When the nervous system is fired up we're well prepped to shout, scream, run. My usual signals of stress are when I find myself buying useless crap, ransacking the kitchen for sugar (and cursing better state me for not prioritising biscuits in the basket) or finding distracting tasks that needtobedonerightnow.
Yoga classes are often pitched as a good way to relieve stress. Perhaps its the peace from the chaotic world, lovely sounds and smells, or general good-person vibes that surround yoga classes. Sure that helps, but you don't need to leave your house to experience the benefits of yoga.
Yoga helps relieve the pressure cooker of stress by breaking the anxiety-avoidance cycle. It encourages us to tend and befriend challenging physical and emotional sensations, rather than using short term fixes that often make us feel worse in the long run.
Turning our attention inwards as we move the body into different shapes stops us ignoring what is within and opens the door for stressful experiences to be processed, and difficult emotions to be released or reduced.
Below is a short yoga sequence that takes between as little as 20 minutes and as long as you have. This yoga flow is for all bodies and all experience levels. This flow reduces tension throughout body and offers space to de-stress and relax. All you need is yourself, a comfortable space and a blanket.
Restorative yoga flow for stress relief
Spend 3-5 minutes in each posture, focusing on gentle, full breathing and allowing your muscles to relax.
1. Forward fold (uttanasana) with interlacing hands - releases tension in the neck, head, shoulders.
2. Butterfly fold (baddha konasana) with rolled blanket(s) under forehead - stretches the hips and back.
3. Melting heart (uttana shishosana) with a blanket to support the knees - reduces tightness in the chest and shoulders, encourages blood flow down towards the head which can settle the body.
4. Child's pose (balasana) with a blanket to support the knees (and additional support under the hips if they rise) - cultivates feelings of safety and grounding as you rest in a cocoon.
5. Supported fish (matsyasana) with rolled blanket between the shoulder blades - expands the chest and throat to open up the heart space.
6. Legs up the wall (viparita karani) with blanket under lower back - this gentle inversion again encourages blood flow to the head with grounding, calming effect.
7. Savasana - use blankets to support and cover the body - stay for a while and perhaps a nap.
To find more comfort in these shapes, use additional blankets or cushions to prop up the body.
Come along to a class
If you liked the above sequence, you'll love our weekly Restorative yoga class.
RESTORATIVE YOGA - Tuesday evenings - A soothing and calming class that incorporates both restorative and yin yoga practices to create a relaxing and nourishing environment for body and mind. Ease tension in the body and allow your mind to drift into stillness. No prior experience of yoga is required.
Classes take place at the Yoga Loft in Whitley Bay, Newcastle. Book your spot on the mat here.