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It’s been tried and proven for age long traditions; yoga poses are one of the most effective ways to calm down, relief anxiety and stress. But, some yoga poses commonly used for relaxation can also cause a serious downers and surface depression. Especially poses that closed the chest cavity like chilpose, plough and rabbit pose.
I’m not suggesting not to include them in your practice, but balance them out with chest and hip openers for that relaxed but also uplifted feeling. Forward bends opens the parasympathetic ganglia and gentle extensions reliefs tension for the Vagus nerve, lowers blood pressure and more easily distributed oxygenated and nutrient blood to the entire being.
And then we add a little massage along the masseter cause anger, frustration, stress and all those ugly feelings makes us clench our jaws and carry tension instead of smiling. Followed by a deep breath, retention and a massive “aaaaah” of a release.
1. Place a yoga block, horizontally, underneath your hips and allow the sacrum bone to relax into the block. Feel the gentle stretch at the lumber spine and the opening over the hips. Take deep breaths into the belly and exhale through the tailbone.
2. Now change the direction of the block so that it is vertically covering the sacrum, bring the legs into a butterfly position and allow the pelvis to unfold over it. Feel the release through the groins and lumber area. Breathe into the belly and exhale down and out through the tailbone.
3. From here we move the block horizontally underneath the shoulder blades. Note that this is probably lower than you think, the block should not touch the neck. Your arms can we by your side, stretched out shoulder height or over the head. Take deep breathes and feel the chest bone rise with inhalations and fall with exhalations.
4. Now we change the direction and the height of the block again so that it fits in between the shoulder blades; allow the chest this time to unfold over the block. Breathing deeply into the entire chest cavity releasing the breath through an “aaaaah”.
5. Now rest the base of your scull onto the edge of the black and slowly massage the muscles behind the head and at the back of the neck by rolling your chin from shoulder to shoulder. Continue with deep inhalations and long exhalations.
6. Bridge pose- I personally like adding bridge pose into my stress relieves sequences because it applies pressure to the back of the head around the pineal gland. The pineal gland secrete melatonin and gives us that sleepy feeling. We can also elevate the kidneys and adrenal glands which literally uplifts your “woosah” mood.
7. Plough pose- Even more pressure into the pineal gland and more sleepy hormones. Yaaass! The posterior spine opens beautifully here offering relief to the parasympathetic nervous system, while giving the internal organs a big hug aiding digestion. Because let’s be honest... stress effects our digestive wellbeing. Try to breathe deeply into the back of the lungs. And if it’s comfortable rest your knees on your forehead. The frontal lobe of your brain resides there, just behind the forehead and a gentle pressure will help emotional and impulsive control.
8. Time for a free massage. Place your forefinger and middle finger on your jaw bone and as your exhale through a wide open mouth, drag your fingers downwards massaging the masseter muscles. Repeat this as many times as you like to and make allow your smile to start showing itself.
9. Now with a beautiful smile on your face. Yes, smile! Even if you don’t feel like it. Take a deep breath in through your nose and retain that breath for 5-10 counts and slowly release with an “aaah” sound. Repeat at least 3 times. But keep smiling.