Yoga to Relieve Mental Stress
These days, many members of the Black community are experiencing extreme stress. Studies show the pressure of racial tension, police violence, and economic stress of the pandemic are taking a toll on Black people and our mental health.
If you are feeling overwhelmed mentally, yoga can give you some temporary relief from the day-to-day stress. Give these three calming moves that channel the breath, release tension and dissipate anxiety to help you reset.
- Stand with your big toes together and heels slightly apart. Spread your toes. Rock from side to side, forward and backward, then gradually become still with your weight evenly distributed on both feet.
- Like a mountain, stand with your thighs and core firm.
- Align your legs, belly, pelvic region, neck and head.
- Press your shoulders back and down and look gently forward. Relax the muscles in your face and breathe easily.
- Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Kneel on your mat. If needed for the calves and thighs, use a folded blanket or bolster for support. Touch your knees together then slide your feet apart. Press the tops of the feet on the floor. Breathe easily.
- Exhale and sit back halfway. Use your thumbs to draw the skin and flesh of the calf muscles long. Slowly sit down between your feet.
- Aim to rest your buttocks comfortably on the floor. Sit on a block if your sit bones do not reach the floor. Allow a thumb’s-width space between the inner heels and the outer hips. Press your thigh bones into the floor with your palms. Then lay your hands gently in your lap, palms up or down.
- Sit up with your spine long and straight. Press your shoulder blades back and down and lift your chest. Press the shoulders down and away from the ears. Anchor the tailbone into the floor.
- Hold the pose from 30 seconds to one minute. Gradually extend your stay up to 5 minutes. To come out of the pose, press your hands against the floor and lift your buttocks up off of your heels. Cross your ankles underneath your buttocks, sit back onto the floor, then stretch your legs out in front of you. Shake the legs and knees up and down a few times on the floor.
- Come to a kneeling position on the floor with your heels under your buttocks and your knees wide.
- Sit back on your heels, resting your torso on your thighs. Place your forehead as close to the floor as possible.
- Place your hands flat on the floor. Spread the fingers apart and stretch the arms gently forward.
- Release any tension in your neck and shoulders.
- Close your eyes. Relax and breathe smoothly for 10 deep breaths.