Yoga. I’m sure you’ve heard about the benefits of practicing these ancient and artful poses, but do you really understand the true value of setting aside some time to let go of the daily tension and stress that we as women are so good at “managing”? The truth is that most of us are not managing our stress. We are pushing it back into its designated corner (the corner of ignore and deal with later) and it is taking a much greater toll on our mental, physical and spiritual well being than we would like to admit. In our maxed out and over scheduled culture, where being busy is glorified; women commonly lack restorative sleep, quiet time, and quality time. This leads to constant daily stress that then leads to chronic stress if we fail to do something about it.
The Effects of Stress:
Women process stress differently than men and the effects are far reaching. Our stress response can cause hair loss, stroke, heart attack, weight gain, lack of restorative sleep, PCOS, hormonal imbalances and more. Stress reduces not only the quality of our life, but the length of it as well. Which is why taking action by setting aside the time to practice stress relieving arts, like yoga, is of vital importance.
The Benefits of Yoga:
The beauty of modern day yoga is that it focuses on the art of connecting the mind and the body, allowing them to work together in harmony.
Some of the benefits of yoga are:
- Lowered Cortisol
- Lowered Blood Pressure
- Increased Focus
- Increased Flexibility
- Stronger Immune System
- More Muscle Strength
- Better Bone Health
- Correct Posture
- Boosts Your Mood
These positive changes can bring a sense of well-being and the benefits of whole body wellness.
When you take the time to practice your yoga poses, focusing on the points of tension, acknowledging your stress and learning how to release it, you will no longer be “managing” or carrying around the toxic effects of daily stress. You will also learn to retire your “deal with it later” stress corner by taking the time to create stillness, space and grace in your life. Practicing Yoga is one of the biggest stress eliminating actions you can take, even if you are only able to start with 5 minutes a day. So let’s get started with some easy, flowing and space creating yoga poses that honor you, your body and your very real need to de-compress and de-stress.
The Yoga Poses:
The following 3 Yoga Poses for women fluidly move together when combined, aid in gentle stretching, bring relief of common stress points, support grounding and add the increased benefits of deep breathing. The 3 Yoga Poses that have been chosen are beginner level and basic. Why? Because you do not need to know how to erect a perfect handstand or perform complex poses with names like the “flying pretzel double ankle breaker twist” to receive the benefits of Yoga. If you’re a seasoned Yoga practitioner reading this, you know the benefits of the basics as well as the complex. If you’re a beginner reading this, fear not, for what I am about to share can be carried out with ease and with great benefit.
Health Note: Please be aware that you should consult your doctor if you are pregnant or have any health concerns before practicing Yoga.
While being wonderfully calming to mind and body, Child’s Pose gently stretches the hips, thighs and low back. It also stimulates digestion.
Try Out The Pose:
- Begin by kneeling onto your mat. Slow your breathing down and calm your thoughts.
- Spread your knees apart while keeping your big toes touching. Lower your butt onto your heels. (If your thighs are too tight, you can sit on top of your legs. Just bring your knees back together instead of spreading them apart).
- Sit up straight. Take a deep breath in here and keep your focus on letting go of stress and calming your mind.
- On an exhalation, lean forward, placing your torso between your thighs. Allow your forehead to come to and rest on the mat.
- Stretch your arms above your head, palms facing down
- For deeper relaxation, lay your arms beside your thighs with your palms facing up.
- Hold the pose and take some deep breaths.
- To release the pose, gently use your hands to walk your torso upright back to a sitting position.
How Long to Hold:
Child’s Pose is a resting pose and can be held from 30 seconds up to a few minutes. It is deeply restorative and calming.
As women we tend to be nurturing and heart centered. Cobra Pose opens up the heart center allowing us to release any tension, hurt or stress there. It also stretches the chest, lengthens the spine, opens up the shoulders and helps balance the nervous system.
Try Out The Pose:
- Begin by laying face down onto your mat, stretching your legs out behind you. The tops of your feet should touch the floor and your toes should be extended. Do not curl your toes inward as this puts your spine in an improper position.
- Place your hands under your shoulders with your fingers pressed out forward. Bring your elbows in towards your body so they line up with your side.
- Squeeze your thighs and butt and press your pubic bone towards the floor.
- Take a deep breath in as you raise your head and chest off the mat (without the use of your arms). Keep your lower ribs touching the floor.
- Keep your neck in line with your spine and gaze upwards. For those with shoulder or neck pain you can find relief by gazing towards the mat.
- From here, press down into your palms and lift yourself a little higher. Drop your shoulders back and extend your chest. The pubic bone should still be touching the mat.
- Hold the pose and take deep breaths.
- To release this pose, exhale as you slowly lower your chest and forehead to your mat. Turn your head to the right or left, resting your head on the mat. Relax your arms alongside your body.
How Long to Hold:
You should try to hold the pose for two to six deep breaths (up to 30 seconds).
Warrior 1 is an energizing standing pose that stretches the front of the body and strengthens your core, thighs, ankles and feet. This pose also improves focus and circulation.
Try Out The Pose:
- Begin by standing, with your hands by your sides and your feet hip distance apart.
- From this position, step forward so your feet are about 4 to 5 feet apart.
- Point your right foot straight ahead (90 degrees) so your toes are pointing to the top of the mat. Make sure your right knee is directly above your ankle to avoid over extending.
- Point your left foot sideways (45 degrees) so it is pointing to the outer corner of the mat.
- Take a deep breath in and raise your arms directly above you. Keep your arms apart (making an H shape) directly above your shoulders. Keep your gaze forward.
- To get a deeper stretch, you can touch your hands together and gently arch your back while gazing more towards the ceiling.
- Hold the pose and take some deep breaths into your chest. Focus on grounding your feet into the mat as you feel the energy and strength of this pose.
- To release the pose, exhale. Gently lower your arms to your side and step back into a standing position with legs hip distance apart. You can move back into Child’s Pose from here and repeat these wonderfully balancing, healing and grounding series of stretches.
How Long to Hold:
Hold this pose for 3 – 6 deep breaths.
As women, taking the time to let go of stress and restore balance in your life is so important. We can’t wait to hear how these simple but effective poses have helped increase your inner peace and overall well-being!