As the cold days of winter are fast-approaching, your daily walks and everyday jogs are unfortunately drawing to a close, too. The trails you regularly ran will soon be covered in snow making it slippery and prone to accidents. By this change in season, your dose of everyday anxiety relief will be temporarily put on hold. However, there is a solution to this dilemma: yoga.
Yoga, a traditional Eastern practice over 5000 years ago, is a disciplined practice of controlled breathing, physical movement or postures, stretching, meditation and mental imagery. It is a popular fitness program in the West that helps bring together the mind, the body, and the spirit to reduce stress, manage anxiety and promote physical and mental well-being. With these combined benefits in one technique, a high payoff is involved.
If you are interested in learning this technique, here are 5 easy steps you can practice indoors to help you relax and refocus your energies.
1. Tadasana / Tadasana Samasthithi / Mountain Pose
a. On your bare feet, stand on a level and smooth surface. If you are a beginner, keep your feet 2 inches apart for a more stable and easier stance. But as you advance, keep your feet together and your heels in contact with the wall, which is the ideal pose.
b. Then stretch your arms at your side with your fingers together and pointing down and your palms facing your outer thighs. Stretch your neck up without tensing or straining the muscles.
c. Evenly, put your weight on your feet, toes and heels. Tighten your kneecaps to stretch the back of your knees. Keep your front thighs in and your buttocks tightened. Draw in your lower abdomen muscles and lift your chest up.
d. With your head erect, practice deep, even breaths focusing on these inhales and exhales. Keep this pose for as long as 30 to 60 seconds.
2. Tadasana Urdhva Hastasana / Upward Salute
a. Similar to Tadasana pose, stand on a level, smooth surface with your bare feet together and your arms on your side. As you exhale, bring these arms to shoulder level in front of you. Remember to keep your palms open and facing each other.
b. From shoulder level, bring your arms above your head, parallel to each other and perpendicular to the floor. While extending the arms, palms, and fingers upward, push both shoulder blades into your body.
c. Stretching both arms further up, feel the stretch of your muscles on the length of your body.
3. Uttanasana / Standing Forward Bend
a. From Tadasana, inhale and lift your arms over your head. As you exhale, lean your body forward from the hip joints.
b. With your knees straight, bring your palms and fingertips to the floor beside your feet while you push your heels tightly into the floor and raise your tail bone towards the ceiling. Then take your hands behind your legs and wrap them together. Keep this pose for 7 to 8 breaths.
c. From behind you, bring your hands in front and slowly push your torso upwards. Keep your head in a hanging position until your body is completely upright. Repeat the Uttanasana procedure 4 or 5 times.
4. Prasarita Padottanasana / Wide-Legged Forward Bend
a. Begin in a Tadasana pose with your hands on your hips. As you exhale, spread your feet 4 feet apart depending on your height and capability. Make sure your legs are parallel with each other, your toes pointing forward, and your back straight.
b. Then exhale and bend your torso forward and down to the floor. Take your hands off your hips and lower your palms flat on the floor with your fingers spread out.
c. Slowly place the crown of your head on the floor and between your palms. Pull your abdomen in and groin back. Remain in this pose for a minute.
5. Sukhasana / Easy Pose
a. To end your yoga practice, spend a full minute to control your breathing. To do this, sit in a seated position on a firm, stable ground or platform with your legs crossed, more like sitting on a Buddha-style position.
b. As you inhale, straighten your back and relax your shoulders. And as you exhale, slowly place your hands above your knees with your palms facing up. Pause.
c. Then inhale once more, but deeply this time. Take in air at a slow count of four and hold this breath for another four counts. Then slowly release this breath at a slow count of eight.
Yoga has been proven by many of its practitioners to effectively control anxiety and stress. This technique harmonizes the nervous system and the body making relaxation possible. Because of these benefits plus its being an indoor-type of exercise, yoga is a great alternative to jogging on a snowy or rainy day.
Ryan Rivera credits his recovery from anxiety to alternative and natural methods of treatment. He talks more about these at his website, www.calmclinic.com.