By Virginia Iversen
Does movement have any part in Yoga for stress relief? Do flowing asanas make a positive difference in purging stress from our bodies? A regular practice of Yoga asanas and breathing exercises can greatly relieve chronic stress and tension. When we live in a state of anxiety and stress, our bodies and minds eventually become uneasy and depleted. This state of depletion can even result in cardiovascular disease, adrenal fatigue and depression. Practicing Yoga regularly, including pranayama exercises will greatly help to calm your mind as the poses release deeply held muscular stress and tension.
We should consider the practice of Sun Salutations, when addressing Yoga for stress relief. The Sun Salutation is a series of twelve poses that is foundational to many Yoga practices. The movements of the Sun Salutation warm up the entire body. Traditionally, the Sun Salutation is practiced at sunrise in honor of the warmth and majesty of our sun. The upward and downward action of the body, as we practice the movements of the Sun Salutation, also reminds us of our link to the heavens and the earth. For complete instructions on how to practice both the A and B series of the Sun Salutation, please refer to this videos on this blog post.
If you practice the Sun Salutation in a flowing or linked manner with the breath, the capacity of this practice for relieving stress and tension is profound. Many Yoga practitioners link the poses of the Sun Salutation together through the transitional movements of Downward Facing Dog and Upward Facing Dog. Additionally, jumping or briskly stepping your feet together after each pose will help to keep your body strong, limber and warm. The physically challenging nature of practicing a series of flowing Sun Salutations will allow your muscles and ligaments to relax any unnecessary gripping.
By linking your breath to the movements of the Sun Salutation, the beneficial effects of your Yoga practice are multiplied. The Sun Salutation is usually practiced with Ujjayi breathing. This breath is also known as the “ocean sounding breath” because it resembles the sound of the ocean in a conch shell. In order to practice this breath, partially close the back of your throat so that there is some resistance to your breath and an audible sound as you inhale and exhale. By maintaining this breath all through your Yoga practice, you will increase the heat in the body, which will help to detoxify your muscles, joints and internal organs. The sound of the breath will also provide a focal point for your mind during your Yoga practice. This will help to ease anxious thinking and allow your mind to rest, promoting a sense of abiding calm.
© Copyright – Virginia Iversen / Aura Wellness Center – Publications Division
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