Wednesday, May 2, 2012

You: Stress Less... Stress Management Technique 2


i think it's a given. We NEED to exercise to get energized. Below are some tips on how to get our bodies moving whether it's walking or doing yoga.

  • any type of exercise will help reduce stress 
  • your body will love the endorphins, and you'll experience more energy and lower stress levels if you make activity a regular part of your life
  • for starters: walk 30minutes a day, everyday (it's a good thing I need to fetch my younger son 4 times a week. I get to do the walks. Hitting 2 birds with one stone.)
  • as you build up, you can integrate other activities, like resistance exercises or other cardiovascular exercises such as swimming or cyling
  • a great pedometer = keeping track of your steps or distance walked helps keep you motivated to move throughout the day (with the technology now, a pedometer can easily be integrated into our telephones through different types of apps. I have 3 installed in my iphone!)
  • this ancient practice not only stretches your muscles but also allows your mind to focus and trains your brain for meditation
  • any skill level can participate
  • the only imperative you have to remember is to take deep belly breaths using your diaphragm to pull your lungs down during inspiration
  • it is important - deep breathing stimulates your vagus nerve, and that quiets and calms your brain and stress response
  • to exhale, suck your belly button toward your spine to push the diaphragm up and empty all air from your lungs
  • inhaling deeply brings a chemical called nitric oxide from the back of your nose and your sinuses into your lungs
    • this short-lived gas dilates the air passages in your lungs and the blood vessels surrounding those air passages so you can get more oxygen into your body
    • nitric oxide also doubles as a neurotransmitter to help your brain function
  • other benefits of yoga:
    • trains you to loosen the muscles and joints that are ignored in your day-to-day life. Routines get the body flowing as you warm up and free your body to experience the new stresses you will inevitably face each day. The practice also helps you handle the weight of your body more effectively, which builds bone and muscle strength so you are more resilient. And it improves your balance so you don't fall
    • helps you to focus on your mind on remote parts of your body, such as tight joints and muscles, as gently but firmly deepen into your poses. Attaining the "empty" mind called for in meditation proves difficult, especially for novices, but if you can concentrate on the tension in your hip, for example, then you're well on your way. The goal in yoga is not really emptying your mind, but rather freeing the mind to let any and all ideas rapidly pass through it without any attachment.
  • yoga is designed to help you feel empowered and build your self-discipline
  • guidelines to improve your yoga experience
    • never force a pose so you feel a painful strain. Go to where it feels comfortable.
    • if your knees feel discomfort, use a rolled up towel, pillow or blanket as a cushion behind the knee joints
    • resist locking your elbows
    • if a pose is difficult to balance, stand against a wall. Your balance may be different from one day to the next. Imbalance during poses may mean an imbalance in other parts of your life.
  1. Standing Twist = warms up spine; loosens body
    • with your feet shoulder-width apart (mountain pose) and your knees slightly bent with relaxed arms, twist your upper body loosely from side to side. 
    • Look where you are going. 
    • Breathe normally for thirty seconds.
  2. Standing Leaning Stretch = opens lower back and obliques
    • interweave your hands and turn them palm side up above your head
    • Take a deep inhale, and exhale as you stretch to the right; inhale and come back to center, and exhale to the left. 
    • Do five times.
  3. X = warms up upper body
    • with your feet in the mountain pose, bring your straight arms up toward the ceiling in a V-shape with the palms facing each other.
    • inhale, and on the exhale, cross your hands in front of your face, bringing your hands to shoulder height with the palms facing you
    • inhale; then exhale and cross your arms again, switching the arm closest to you
    • the exhale should be sharp and come from your navel
    • do continuously for ninety seconds, alternating your arms
  4. Ladybug = opens upper back, neck and lungs
    • inhale deeply and place your fingertips on your shoulders with your elbows out to your sides in line with your shoulders
    • keeping your fingers on your shoulders, on the exhale, bring your elbows out in front; keep exhaling and drop your head, bend forward at the neck, and look down to your toes
    • on  the inhale, come back to elbows out to side
    • repeat five times
  1. Triangle = opens spine; helps balance the body
    • stand with your right foot pointing directly to the right and your left foot forward at a slight angle
    • inhale deeply
    • as you exhale, move your right hand down your leg toward your right ankle, stopping wherever you feel comfortable, and simultaneously lift your left hand above your head with the palm facing forward
    • look up at your left hand, keeping your shoulder parallel to your hip the entire time
    • resist trying to twist your shoulders
    • take five deep breaths and switch sides
    • do twice
  2. Cat Back / Cow = improves flexibility of spine and torso circulation
    • get on all fours with your weight evenly distributed; keep your knees under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders
    • arms are straight but not locked, and your fingers are spread and facing forward
    • start with a straight line from the top of your head to your tailbone
    • exhale as you lift your upper back and tuck your tailbone underneath and look toward your belly button, tucking your chin in
    • inhale as you reverse into cow and lift your tailbone up; your belly button goes toward the ground
    • look straight ahead as the top of your head faces the ceiling
    • use your spine throughout the movement
    • do five times
  3. Extended Cat Stretch = warms up and awakens entire body; great for your spine
    • adding to Cat Back, lift your left knee off the ground and bring it toward your forehead while simultaneously tucking your forehead under
    • then inhale and smoothly extend your right leg behind you with pointed toes
    • lift your head and look forward
    • during the entire movement, keep your hips in line and your pelvis steady as you elongate your entire body
    • do five times and then switch sides
  4. Thread the Needle  = open upper back and shoulders
    • start on all fours; take your right hand, palm side down, and slide it under your left armpit
    • keep extending it as you exhale, and slowly lower your right ear and shoulder to the mat
    • simultaneously drop your left elbow on to the mat or as low as feels comfortable
    • hold for thirty seconds and switch sides
  5. Cobra = develops strength and flexibility in your back 
    • lie on your stomach with your hands palm side down under your shoulders, keeping your fingertips directly underneath the tops of your shoulders
    • your legs are together and tight like a rock
    • point your toes and put your elbows flush against your sides
    • while looking up at the ceiling, use your spine strength and lift your torso off the floor just to the navel
    • resist pressing with your hands and arch your back as much as feels comfortable
    • keep your shoulders relaxed and down away from your ears
    • hold for twenty seconds
  • Down Dog = strengthens and stretches the legs and shoulders; energizes the whole body
    • start on all fours with your hands shoulder-width apart and your feet hip-width apart
    • tuck your toes under
    • while inhaling, lift your knees off the ground and straighten your legs
    • lift your hips back and up spread your fingers out, pressing your palms flat to the floor
    • keep your neck relaxed; your head should be in a neutral position
    • lift your quadriceps muscles; keep them activated
    • draw your heels toward the floor
    • hold for thirty seconds and release back down to the mat while exhaling
  • Corpse = relaxes entire body
    • while on your back, let your arms relax down to your sides, palms facing up, extend your legs out straight, and let your feet flow down
    • with your eyes closed, travel mentally throughout your entire body, relaxing from your toes to the crown of your head
    • cover your eyes with cloth if you like
    • when you are ready to come up, roll onto your side, hold for fifteen seconds, and then slowly come onto all fours before standing up
    • remember to breathe
Yoga is something that I have yet to try. This is a good way to start. I just got myself a book on the basics of yoga and, hopefully, by the end of the year, I'll be flexible and healthy and stress-free!

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