Everyone encounters stress at some point in their lives, whether it is related to work, money, relationships or anything else. Stress can take a toll on you both mentally and physically. In fact, science has shown that stress can contribute to a variety of health problems including allergies, asthma, headaches, heart problems, high cholesterol, indigestion and more.
Fortunately, there are some steps that you can take to combat stress. Shavasana, or corpse pose, is an excellent exercise for easing stress. Furthermore, when performed on a regular basis for just five to ten minutes a day, it can also help to prevent a buildup of stress. To perform shavasana, lie flat on your back with your eyes closed. Allow your muscles to relax and imagine them melting into the floor. Breathe naturally, but focus on your breath as you inhale and exhale. When your mind wanders, simply bring your attention back to your breath. Do this for five to ten minutes. You should feel relaxed and your mind clear.
There are many other yoga poses that can help to ease stress. Some of the best ones are as follows:
- Sarvangasana, or shoulderstand
- Halasana, or plow pose
- Ardha Matsyendrasana, or half spinal twist
- Shalabhasana, or locust pose
- Simhasana, or lion pose
Like Shavasana, mediation is also quite effective in relieving stress. Simple, quiet meditation promotes rest and allows you to become one with your inner being. This, in turn, can alleviate stress. Sit comfortably on the floor with your legs crossed and your head, neck and torso aligned and straight. Face east. Spend several minutes observing the gentle flow of your breath. Next, add the mantra soham, which is pronounced “so-hum”. Mentally repeat “so” with each inhalation and “hum” with each exhalation. Continue to practice soham meditation for five minutes.
Meditation can, and should, be practiced wherever you are and wherever you go. Live your life mindfully. If you go for a walk on the beach, feel the sand beneath your toes, hear the surf of the ocean, take note of the seagulls in the air. Be present in the moment.
While yoga itself is a wonderful stress buster, there are other ways to relieve stress that can be done on their own or in combination with your asana practice and meditation. Herbal teas can be quite effective in relieving stress, particularly when drunken regularly, two to three cups per day. A very relaxing fresh tea can be made from equal amounts of chamomile, tulsi, holy basil and angelic. Another option is brahmi tea which is made with ½ teaspoon of brahmi and one cup of boiling water. Ayurvedic tea can be made from equal proportions of brahmi, bhringaraj, jatamansi and shanka pushpin, using ½ teaspoon of the mixture steeped for ten minutes in 1 cup of boiling water.
Baths are also ideal stress relievers. A ginger and baking soda bath can help to boost circulation and combat the effects of stress on the body. Simply add 1/3 cup of ginger and 1/3 cup of baking soda to a hot bath.
For those who experience stress on a regular basis, it’s important to look within. What creates stress in your life and is there anything you can do about it? Can you avoid it? If not, you simply need to accept it and move past it. If your stress is rooted in negative thinking, take note of your negative thoughts and replace them with positive ones.
Another excellent stress reliever, believe it or not, can be crying. Crying can provide an emotional release, particularly if you’ve bottled up your feelings. Similarly, laughter can also provide you with a respite from your stress. Watch a funny movie or simply allow yourself to act silly. Get up and dance, sing, laugh and be carefree.