December 15 2013, 0 Comments
Tired? Tense? You aren’t alone. Stress related illness is a growing problem and more and more of us are succumbing to the strains of modern living. While the progression of communication technology has its advantages, the constant pressure of 24/7 connection to the world can become a source of health complaints including insomnia, depression and fatigue. One solution that many people are turning to in an effort to find blissful relaxation is yoga.
What is Yoga?
The origins of yoga are lost somewhere in the mists of time and nobody knows who was the first yoga master or where they came from. However, artifacts depicting yoga moves (asanas) which were found in the Indus Valley were dated to be at least 5,000 years old, proving that yoga is a truly ancient practice. In its purest form, yoga is a spiritual discipline which encompasses an entire lifestyle and the word yoga itself comes from the Sanskrit yuja which roughly translates as union between body and mind. Yoga made its way to the Western world in the 1960s, becoming popular with the hippie movement and strongly associated with the free-living“flower child” way of life. Today, yoga is losing that reputation as studies into the effects of this activity show that it has numerous health benefits.
The Benefits of Yoga for Relaxation
While yoga was originally, and still is for many, a deeply spiritual practice that goes far beyond physical exercise, you don’t have to follow a yogic lifestyle to enjoy the benefits that the various asanas can offer. Performing relaxing yoga moves helps to release built-up tension (both physical and mental) and has been found to lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Yoga poses can also help to stimulate the function of your internal organs, reduce blood pressure and improve sleep quality. Many people also say that following a simple, relaxing yoga routine helps to calm their mind, giving them the mental space needed to come up with solutions to concerns in their everyday life.
Simple Relaxing Yoga Poses to Try at Home
If you want to experience the benefits of yoga at home, then why not try these three simple poses. You don’t need to shell out on any expensive equipment, although a folded blanket is nice to have, if you don’t already own a yoga mat. Dedicate between ten and fifteen minutes each day to moving slowly through the poses – preferably in the evening as part of your bedtime routine. Remember that before starting any new exercise program you should consult with your doctor for advice and never push yourself into a pose which feels uncomfortable.
The Mountain Pose – Tadasana
The Mountain Pose helps to align your spine and improves posture, while creating a sense of physical and mental equilibrium.
- Stand with feet parallel and legs hip-width apart.
- Keeping your legs loose and knees soft, gently pull your tail-bone in and lift your head away from your shoulders. Find your centre of balance, rocking on your feet a little to get a strong stable base.
- Practice slowly inhaling and exhaling without forcing or controlling your breath. Hold the pose for 3 minutes or as long as you feel comfortable.
The Childs Pose Balasana
The Childs Rose refreshes and rejuvenates the whole body and creates a sense of security and comfort.
- Start by kneeling on the floor and sitting back so that your thighs are on top of your calf muscles.
- Bend forward and down, ensuring that the movement comes from your hips. Your forehead should come to rest on the floor, with your body supported by your thighs. If this is uncomfortable, you can place a small pillow on top of your thighs.
- Place your arms to your sides, with your hands facing up. Breathe deeply and relax for a minute in this position.
The Corpse Pose – Shavasana
Complete this short sequence of movements with the Corpse Pose which will help you achieve complete relaxation.
- Lie on your back on the floor with your legs at hip-width apart, arms to the sides and hands open.
- Starting at your feet and working your way up through the body, focus on each set of muscles, relaxing and feeling tension release. Breathe deeply into your abdomen, each inhalation making you feel more and more relaxed. Hold this pose for between five and ten minutes, or longer is desired.