Are you stressed? Aren’t we all! Especially during the holiday seasons, stress seems to inflict its woes upon all of us.
My friends, my siblings, my cousins, my parents—all these people in my life are stressed out. So much so that they’re either asking me for yogic breathing techniques or, whether or not I can procure them some, Xanax. While xanax isn’t in my stress-relief toolbox, yoga most certainly is!
I’ve found that during stressful periods, I always turn to yoga. Heck, I turn to yoga every day. But, some of these people need a nudge. I’ve put together a little yoga routine, for them and for you. This routine is all about twists.
Not only are twisting poses detoxifying in nature, they’re all de-stressifying! So, let’s take to our yoga mats and twist out some stress and tension!
1. Supta Matsyendrasana (Reclined Spinal Twist)
When you’re really stressed out, a lot of energy has typically been drained from your body. For this reason, we begin lying on our backs. Just let yourself fall into the floor. Allow the earth to hold you in a deeply warm embrace.
Now, take your right knee and squeeze it into your chest. Hold it as you would a small child—with total care, love, and compassion. Now, take that knee over to your left and into a supine spinal twist. Allow the head to fall to the opposite direction.
Now. Just. Breathe.
As you do, visualize worries melting peacefully away. They’re not yours to hold onto anymore.
Once you begin to let go, bring your right knee back to center, and switch sides. Pull your left knee into your chest, cradling it like a baby. Now, let that knee fall to the right as you glance to your left.
Breathe deeply until you’re ready to return to center. Slowly, take both knees into the chest and ease to your right, allowing yourself to rest in a fetal position for a few moments.
Gently push yourself up to a seated position, and onto all fours.
2. Parsva Balasana (Thread the Needle)
Now that you’re in a tabletop position, it’s time to thread the needle. Thread the needle pose is all about letting go of tension.
It also helps open the shoulders. We carry a lot of tension in the neck, the shoulders, and back. This pose works to open those areas, making it an ideal position to alleviate stress.
To thread your needle, simply take your right arm and thread it under the left, so that your right head, neck and shoulder rests on the mat.
Breathe into this twist as you hold the pose for several inhalations and exhalations.
When you’re ready, push back up to a tabletop position, and thread your needle on the opposite side. Again, imagine all your worries gently floating away.
They’re not yours to hold onto anymore. You don’t have to carry the burden.
From all-fours, it’s time to take a seat.
Now that you’re in a seated position, extend both legs into staff pose. Make sure your spine is long, and that you’re sitting directly on top of your sit bones.
You can pull the flesh on your bum out from beneath you to better sit directly on your sit bones.
Bring your right knee towards you and cross it over your left leg. Now bend the left leg and place your left foot just outside your right buttocks.
Inhale to grow the spine even taller, then raise your left arm up and over your right knee. Twist to your right on an exhale.
Hold this pose for several deep breaths as you close your eyes and allow your mind to calm.
Notice how the breath becomes deeper and you naturally let go of some of the tension you’ve been holding on to. When you’re ready, come out of the twist and do the exact same thing on the other side.
When you’re finished with the second side, ease your way into a wide-legged straddle pose.
While this pose may seem simple, it’s actually quite complex. As you relax into the pose, notice how it’s not only a twist. It also opens your shoulders, your hips, and your sides.
Sit tall in a seated straddle position, breathing deeply. Inhale to lift even taller up and out of your seat and then exhale as you side bend to the right. If you can hold onto your big toe with the hands, do so. If not, just go as far as feels comfortable.
Feel that deep stretch in your left side and just let gravity take over. Let all that stress and worry go somewhere other than your body.
With every exhale, just let it all go. When you’re ready, repeat on the opposite side.
There you have it! These are four simple twists that relieve stress and tension. You can do them anytime—even in bed! And let that worry and tension go! As Mark Twain is famous for having said, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.”