KEEP STRESS AT BAY WITH SIX SIMPLE EXERCISES
Too often we can feel as though we’re rushing from pillar to post, struggling to meet various commitments and deadlines. It’s important to take time out from the relentless go, go, go and keep stress at bay. Even with a very limited amount of time you can create space to bring yourself back into balance, managing your stress and gaining some much-needed perspective.
These six simple exercises are perfect for a micro-session on your bus or train ride to work or even at your desk and will help you keep stress at bay.
Six Chair Yoga poses you can do on public transport or at your desk:
Sit on front of seat. Feet firmly grounded. Hands on thighs. Practice slow breathing – inhale (note to yourself ‘breathing in’) and exhale (note to yourself ‘breathing out’). Practice with your eyes closed, focusing on slow breaths, clearing your thoughts to just focus on the movement of the breath in all the parts of the body involved.
2) Ankle stretch (better for your desk than public transport :-))
Sit on front of seat with feet firmly grounded. Lift left leg straight in front of you, draw up with the kneecap and thigh muscle and slightly engage the abdominal muscles. Flex and point foot (toes stretch up). Stretch toes down. Repeat on other leg.
3) Hip flexion (also might be better in the workplace?)
Sit on seat. Feet and legs shoulder width apart. Sit straight. Slowly bring one leg up and squeeze towards chest. Repeat on other side.
4) Hip opener (practice looking casual on the bus/train)
Sit on front of seat with feet firmly grounded. Place right foot on left thigh; to deepen stretch, very gently push down on right thigh. Repeat on other leg.
5) Neck incline (defo fine in public)
Sit on seat. Feet shoulder width apart. Sit straight. Feet grounded. Right ear to right shoulder. Left ear to left shoulder.
6) Neck flexion (we prefer doing this one at our desks)
Sit forward on seat. Feet flat on floor. Clasp hands behind head but do not yank on the head. Press head into hands. Lift gaze. Look diagonally upwards. Pull elbows up and out as you stretch up, lifting your chest. Tuck chin into neck. Roll head down. Look at chest. Hold briefly. Roll back to start.
And when you have less than 5-minutes these can still make a difference:
- Take 5 long, slow, deep, diaphragmatic breaths, lengthening and deepening the exhale. Imagine you are exhaling stress and inhaling energy.
- Spend a moment in contemplation and immerse yourself in a memory of a time when you felt most happy and relaxed.
- Stand-up and stretch.
When you have a 10-minute commute:
- Walk briskly or climb the stairs instead of taking the escalator.
- Do a few stretches in your seat, to loosen up tight muscles.
- List five things that are positive or amusing about a tense meeting or situation that you have just come out of.
When you’re doing a longer commute of 15-20+ minutes:
- Practise 15 minutes’ seated meditation, focusing on the body breathing itself.
- Play a piece of music you enjoy.
- Write down your anxieties and contemplate them for a while, until you’re no longer feeling stressed about them and are bored of them.
When things all feel too much:
If you feel close to a panic – take four self-conscious breaths; not too deep. Draw the air in through your nose; feel your stomach muscles gently engage. Be comfortable – don’t strain. Exhale slowly through your nose (or mouth if necessary). Keep the mind concentrated on the breath.
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