By: JIVA Soul Sister, Aleena @mermaidyogagirl
Have you ever spent the entire day wondering when you were going to get that break to relax, whether it be in the distant or wishful vacation you day dream of, or simply the couch that is calling your name? Those things are amazing, and so exciting to look forward to, cuz, duh, but I’m about to share a couple little tricks to help you feel less stressed in general and to aid overall mental well-being.
Pranayama Exercise = Breathing
Anuloma Ujjayi Pranayama translated from Sanskrit to English means to “go with grain.” First, start by developing your Ujjayi breath, in and out through your nose, keep your mouth closed. As if you were to fog up the car window with your breath, constrict the back of your throat, you may even start to hear your breath moving through your lungs and throat. Take 10 deep Ujjayi breaths. Now inhale through both nostrils, then use your ring finger to close your left nostril (if you are left handed, use your thumb) and emphasize on a longer than natural exhale through the right nostril. Again, inhale through both nostrils, then hold your right nostril closed with your thumb (lefties, use ring finger) and emphasize a long exhale here. I usually recommend 10 rounds, each side. It may be hard to keep count, and that’s okay, just always remember to finish exhaling on the right side, as energy exits through the right side of the body. This is also meditation, so letting yourself lose count is sometimes nice. Anuloma is relaxing because the alternating long exhales oxidize the right and left hemispheres of the brain.
photo via yogaoutlet.com
Relax with a Simple 20 Minute Sequence
You will need at the very least a mat and wall. An eye pillow, bolster (or firm pillow), and/or a blanket are optional. Start with the top of your mat touching a wall. Begin with Anuloma Ujjay (the breath above)i in Baddha Konasana, aka “butterfly legs.” Fold in Baddha Konasana. Take a few spinal rolls forward and back then settle onto your back with knees into chest. Give yourself a loving embrace. Plant palms by your sides and the soles of your feet on your mat, press firmly into your feet and kick feet up and over head for Halasana, plow posture. Take palms of your hands to the small of your back, finger tips face up, walk shoulders underneath you and draw elbows toward each other to avoid splaying. Little weight goes into your neck, most of it should be sustained by your shoulders. With every inhale, expand the heart, with every exhale, relax into your hips, let them be heavy.
Note, if you experience high or low blood pressure, you will need to be able to practice Halasana (plow) for no less than 3 minutes prior to performing the next posture. First, extend the legs up for Salamba Sarvangasana, Shoulderstand. Stay in shoulderstand as long as you feel comfortable. When you are ready to release down, extend back into Halasana, then lower one vertebra at a time onto your mat.
Next, roll up to seated and make your way to the wall. Pick either right or left hip to sit flush with the wall. Release down onto your mat, completely onto your back, extend legs up the wall for, well, legs up the wall! *You may like an eye pillow here and a rolled up blanket right up against the wall supporting your sacrum and low back area in this posture. This is your savasana, your final resting posture.
Once you feel complete in legs up the wall, you may choose to practice Supta Baddha Konasana, which is the reclined version of butterfly legs from earlier, and place a bolster under your mid back area so your spine and head rest on the bolster. Another round of meditation with Anuloma Ujjayi could be performed, or if you choose to, you may perform Anuloma either to begin or conclude your relaxation practice.