Unfortunately for us, living in the 21st century seems to be tantamount to with living with a constant level of stress. While a little bit of stress can be a good thing (it’s what motivates us to get things done), a lot of stress is definitely a bad thing. High levels of stress can mess with our hormones, create pain and tension in the body, affect us emotionally and create issues in our relationships. In the long term left unchecked chronic stress can result in a whole range of health issues ranging from mental health issues to heart disease, so we know it’s something we simply can’t ignore!
Release through the neck and shoulders
We often hold emotional stress and tension through the neck and shoulders, so it’s no surprise that stressful periods are often synonymous with upper back pain. Take a deep breath in and roll the shoulders up and over releasing the shoulder blades down the back. Gently roll the head from one shoulder to the other, pausing at any spots that need a little extra attention and stretching out. Make sure you don’t tip the head backwards though – we need to protect those pretty necks!
4- 6 Breath
Once that neck and shoulder tension has eased a little, take 5-10 rounds of your 4-6 breath. This one’s super easy – just take a nice big 4 count inhalation (pulling air deep down into your belly), and a long controlled 6 count exhalation (to the very end of your breath). This pranayama (breathing) exercise is unparalleled at switching you from ‘fight-or-flight’ mode, to ‘rest-and-digest’ mode. The long controlled exhalation stimulates the vagus nerve to activate your parasympathetic nervous system = instant calm!
No matter how much is going wrong, nothing seems to make you feel better like feeling some gratitude for all the things that are going right. Close your eyes, take a moment to think of as many good things as you can (for me it’s my health, my family, my partner and my pets) and then send some thanks out into the universe. We guarantee that whatever is going on probably won’t seem quite so bad afterwards.
So there you go – our sneaky 2 minute anywhere yoga practice. Give it a try next time you’re feeling in need of your yoga hit and simply can’t make it to a class. Hopefully it’s enough to get you through until when you can (no matter how many times you need to repeat!).