Agh, it is that time of year again! 2019 is quickly coming to a close, and it always seems as we get to the end of the year, things speed up, and life can get crazy and busy.
There are many valuable ways to reduce stress, and we have heard them all before. Go for a walk, do activities you like, take time for yourself, and yoga.
Yes, yoga is an effective way to deal with stress and will help you create a connection to your body and your mind.
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In a 2018 study in the International Journal of Preventative Medicine, 52 women were studied on the effects of yoga in reducing stress, anxiety and depression. The results of the study were that "anxiety and stress decreased significantly in women after 12 sessions of regular hatha yoga practice".
The results show that yoga's stress-reducing effects can be felt quickly, even after only a few classes. Countless studies show similar outcomes; yoga is good for the body and calming for the mind. There are many ways to practise yoga from the more strenuous to the relaxing.
It depends on what type of person you are and what kind of activity level you are after. The following postures can be done by anyone looking to feel the stress-busting effects of yoga regardless of ability or how flexible you are.
1. Reclined pigeon (Supta Kapotasana):
In this pose, you lie on your back and bend your left knee. You gently bring your right foot to your left thigh and rest it there. Depending on how your hips feel, this may be all you need to do. If you are looking for a deeper stretch, you reach for your hamstring and then bring your head to the floor. Hold the yoga pose for 10-15 long breaths and then switch sides.
2. Reclined Single Leg Stretch (Supta Padangusthasana): after the previous pose, straighten both legs and then bring your right knee to your chest. From there, extend your leg and put your hands around your hamstring. Point and flex the toes a few times and hold this posture 10-15 long breaths and then switch sides.
3. Seated wide-legged forward fold (Upavistha Konasana): come to a seated position and spread your legs as wide as you can comfortably sit. From here, you may need to sit on a folded blanket or towel to help sit more comfortably. Once you feel ready, turn to your right leg and gently hold the twist for 10-15 breaths and then turn to the left leg and hold for 10-15 breaths. After you have faced each leg, bend forward and hold for 10-15 breaths.
4. Lie on your back (Savasana):
You can make this posture even more relaxing by lying on a rolled-up blanket or towel placed on the spine from the low back to the head. Stay here as long as you want; relax and feel the effects of the previous poses and breathe.
Anyone can do these four simple yoga poses, whether you are young or old, man or woman. Yoga can be done by anyone regardless of their ability. It would be best if you tried to do these poses 3-4 times a week, and they should take around 15-20 mins to do.
If you're feeling especially stressed or burnt out, these postures are great to do before bed. After you have done the final pose, consider sitting for a few mindful moments and focus on the present, connect, and breathe.
Yoga is a stress-busting machine, and when done consistently through the week, it will help you deal with life when it gets hard. Remember, it doesn't matter if you are flexible or not; yoga will reduce the effects of stress and anxiety on the body and the mind.
The end of the year doesn't need to be a stressful time. By committing to yoga for a few minutes every day, you will stretch your body, connect to your breath, and through this, relax your mind.
• Tim Seutter is a firefighter, yoga teacher and manager at The Loft Yoga and Pilates Studio, Whangārei.