I remember an editor once said to me “I love the sound of deadlines as they go whooshing by.” This has always caused me much stress – why would you let a deadline get by you? Wouldn’t you control it? As an overachiever with Type A personality and a project manager and writer, I constantly stressed about meeting deadlines and expectations. Usually, I fell short, and I let myself down. On some level, I knew I was being unrealistic.
I’ve learned from yoga that when life throws you off center, find center within yourself. The following asanas (exercises) helped me stretch my tightly wound back, release my shoulders and hips, and relax my neck. By relaxing my body, my mind would disconnect from the stressors, and I would feel more balanced.
As with any exercise routine, do these exercises at your own pace, and follow your intuition.
- Sit upright in your chair, feet firmly planted on the floor. Place your hands, palms down, on your knees.
- Inhale through your nose and draw the breath into your belly. Tilt your hips forward, causing a curve in the lower back. Look up towards the ceiling.
- Exhale through your nose, squeezing the breath out of the belly. Tilt your hips back, causing your lower back to curve outward. Allow your chin to rest on your chest.
- Repeat three times.
Sit and Twist
- Sit upright in your chair, feet firmly planted on the floor. Turn your body to the right.
- Place your right hand on the cushion side of the chair and your left hand on the back of the chair.
- Slowly twist from your lower back. Continue the twist up your spine and into your shoulders. Lastly, turn your head and look over your right shoulder. Hold the pose as you slowly inhale and exhale two to three times.
- To come out of the pose, slowly release your head, shoulders, arms, and spine.
- Sit with your hands resting on your knees/legs. Inhale and exhale two to three times.
- Repeat two more times and then switch to the left side.
Leg-Crossed Forward Bend
- Sit upright in your chair, feet firmly planted on the floor. Place your left ankle on your right knee. Place your hands, palms down, on your left knee and ankle.
- Exhale and drop your chin to your chest. Slowly roll down, folding at the waist.
- Bring your nose over your bent leg, feeling a stretch in the hips and lower back. Hold the pose for two to three breaths.
- Inhale and slowly roll up.
- Repeat two more times and then switch legs.
Sit upright in your chair. Place your feet on the floor, and rest your hands gently in your lap. Breathing slowly, imagine yourself sitting next to a swiftly flowing river. As the river flows by you, drop any issues you have into the river. Watch them float away. Know that there is no need to interact with them. As they drift away, feel yourself relaxing, releasing, and becoming more centered. If the issues return, turn and look downriver to a waterfall. The issues float down the river and over the waterfall. Continue to breathe slowly, and when you’re ready, open your eyes.
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