5 Tips to Reduce StressBy Vitina | Comments: 1 | February 1, 2019
A common misconception in the western world is that yoga is JUST a physical practice.
There are 8 Limbs, or you could call them tiers, to the yoga lifestyle. Each tier is designed to take you deeper inwards. There could be a whole post on this but to give you a good sense, the physical practice is one of the first tiers and meditation (Samadhi) is the final/ultimate goal meaning bliss.
Meditation is such a trend today, it doesn’t mean you can’t start dabbling in it but there are a few tips I’ve learned along my journey to share with you…
TIP 1: ENJOY THE JOURNEY
Do you want to be happy? Do you think you need to obtain something outside of yourself to be happy?
I’ll be happy when I get a new promotion
I’ll be happy when I buy a house
I’ll be happy when I get a boyfriend or girlfriend
I’ll be happy when *Fill in the blank*
GRATITUDE. It’s something you KNOW and hear all the time.
You have big goals and aspirations. But boy, can you beat yourself up for not being where you “think” you SHOULD be.
You say things like…
It’s amazing to have healthy goals but a lot of the time you forget to enjoy the journey. Of course jumping so far ahead you can create a lot of anxiety and stress for yourself.
Tip: At the end of each day make it a habit to write down 1, 2, 5, 10 WINS you had that day. You choose the number.
TIP 2: POSITIVE CHANGE
The success of yoga is not in performing postures. The success of yoga lies in how it positively changes your life and relationships.
For someone who is always in their head or is super creative the physical (asana) practice of yoga is very beneficial. Body awareness is a great tool to help you to become present.
People keep saying to me “I can’t do yoga I’m not flexible”.
When I first started out on the yoga journey, I wasn’t strong or balanced. I was always told I wasn’t really “athletic”. I was flexible.
But yoga is made up of 3 parts: Strength, Balance and Flexibility.
My physical journey has been quite the mental battle as well. To this day, I still get scared and think I “can’t” do a headstand in the middle of a yoga class.
I did learn a lot about myself along the way. What happens on the yoga mat is a reflection about what happens off the mat. Comparing yourself to others is a big one!
If I can do yoga. Anyone can do yoga.
TIP: Make time for a yoga class at once a week (or at least 3 times a week if you want to see lots of progress). OR stand up right now and practice Tree Pose and/or Eagle Pose.
There are many yoga postures to help with stress reduction but balancing postures are a great way to regain focus and bring yourself back to the present moment.
Eagle pose specifically helps to release tension in the shoulders, legs and back.
TIP 3: CONTROLLED BREATH (PRANAYAMA)
When you are scared or you’re running late for work how do you breathe?
Quite fast. Your heart races. It’s the fight or flight response. If you’re in danger this is useful but people are running on this fight or flight response a lot of the time especially when they are stressed out.
When you are at the spa how do you breathe?
Shorter inhale and longer exhale (breath in, exhale “ahhhhhh”).
You can trick your mind that you’re relaxed with your breath. It’s fascinating. Controlled breath can calm the nervous system, increase focus, and reduce stress.
TIP: 2-1-4 (inhale for 2, hold for 1, exhale for 4)
Step by step instructions:
To begin, sit still and tall somewhere comfortable. Close your eyes and being breathing through your nose.
Then, inhale for a count of two… hold the breath in for a count of one… exhale gently, counting out for four… and finish by holding the breath out for a count of one. Keep your breathing even and smooth.
If the 2-4 count feels too short try increasing the breath lengths to 4 in and 6 out, or 6 in and 8 out, and so on. But if longer breaths create any anxiety there is no need to push yourself. The most important thing is that the exhale is longer than the inhale, not the absolute length of the breath.
Set a timer and breathe this way for at least five minutes! You will see a difference in your mood.
TIP 4: JUST BE.
One of the main cause for stress and anxiety is worrying so far into the future about something that hasn’t happened yet.
Your mind can create some fascinating stories.
You hear about “being present”. But how do you actually do that?
TIP: Focusing on the senses. What do I see, feel, hear, smell, taste? This can be done mindfully during every day tasks. Brushing your teeth, eating, walking to work, etc. Or focusing on one of these senses. I find sound works best when meditating.
TIP 5: ANCHOR IN
Meditation is a habit. When you start going to the gym, you don’t get a six pack after the first session. You are very lucky if that does happen to be the case.
Just like any habit, the mind can be trained. Think of it as push-ups for the brain.
The best piece of advice I’ve ever received for my meditation is that it’s better to meditate for 2-5 minutes everyday vs 30 min once a week.
Imagine you’re on a ship. You grab the anchor and drop it in the ocean. Even with an anchor, the ship can float off.
Your thoughts are like the ship.
Here are a few anchors that you can use while meditating.
TIP: Possible Anchors… Breath, Sound, a Mantra (see sample Mantras below). The key is not to feel guilty or bad when the mind wanders – Smile when you catch yourself and use your anchor to bring you back.
Mantras you can start with:
Inhale “Accept“, Exhale “Let go”
Inhale “Peace“, Exhale “Love”
Inhale “Hakuna“, Exhale “Matata“
Benefits of these Tips
Knowing the benefits is important! It helps to justify why you are taking this time for yourself.
An American woman asks the Dalai Lama “Why is it so hard for American’s to Meditate?”
The Dalai Lama says…
1 – American’s are too consumed with themselves
2 – Everyone in the world has a hard time meditating
3 – I am the Dalai Lama and I have a hard time meditating
Don’t take your meditation practice or life so seriously. Have fun playing and exploring with it!