Short After Work Practice

Thank you to Teresa, a student who came to my Stress Release class on Saturday and asked about what to do after work to let go of her busy, stressful day.

Sometimes our days are BUSY. Whether we’re stuck at our desk*, in meetings all day,  running around doing all kinds of errands, or chasing after children, we can feel physically drained at the end of the day with a mind that just won’t stop whirling around, despite being physically tired.

Inspired by my conversation with Teresa, here is a short practice of a breathing exercise and three asanas that you can do to help shed the day. Practicing the breath and postures as listed will take about 10 minutes but feel free to extend the holds, change the order, practice other variations, try the postures reclined or standing or even add other postures if that feels like the right thing to do.

Remember when you are finished your mini-practice, take about ten breaths in stillness before carrying on with your day. You aren’t a Poptart in a toaster – you don’t need to jump up and run away as soon as you are finished.

Enjoy!

*If you’re a desk jockey, you might want to check out my post about Chairga.

 

Alternate Nostril Breath

This is a great breathing exercise to calm a busy mind by clearing out the accumulated stresses of the day. It slows the the breath and brings equilibrium back to our system by harmonizing the left and right hemispheres of the brain.

  1. Sit tall. It’s much easier to breathe if the spine is long and shoulders are relaxed. Relax your jaw.
  2. Gently touch the right thumb on side of the right nostril. Touch the right ring finger on the side of the left nostril (let the pinkie rest beside the ring finger). The index and middle fingers can softly rest on the third eye (between the eyebrows) or curl into the hand. The thumb and ring finger are used to alternately block and open the nostrils while you breathe. The left hand can sit in your lap palm up or you may wish to cradle the right elbow for support. (If you are left handed, use your left thumb and ring finger on your nose.)
  3. Close the eyes.
  4. Breath in and out of both nostrils normally for a few rounds. Notice that you might be breathing more dominantly through one nostril; this is very normal.
  5. Inhale again smoothly and slowly through both nostrils.
  6. At the end of the inhale, use your thumb to block the right nostril and exhale smoothly and continuously through the left nostril until the lungs feel empty.
  7. Inhale slowly, and deeply through the left nostril until the lungs feel comfortably full.
  8. Close the left nostril with the ring finger, lift the thumb and exhale through the right side slowly and completely.
  9. Inhale slowly, smoothly, and deeply through the right nostril.
  10. Close the right nostril with the thumb, lift the ring finger and exhale fully through the left side.
  11. This is one full round of Alternate Nostril Breath. Continue for 9 more rounds. Remember to keep the spine tall and chin parallel to the floor.

 

Cat / Cow

I really enjoy the movement of Cat and Cow through the spine. The inhale rounds the spine into a forward fold and the exhale helps to open the chest through a back bend. By attaching movement to the breath, we settle into a gentle meditation, following the breath as it moves up and down the spine.

  1. On all fours, stack the shoulders over the elbows and elbows over the wrists. Fingers are spread wide with the weight distributed evenly through each hand. Arms are straight but elbows are not locked.
  2. With the legs hip width apart, stack the hips over the knees. Lower legs are straight down from the knees; push down on the tops of the feet into the floor to take pressure out of the knees or curl the toes under.
  3. The spine is flat like a table top. Keep the neck long, don’t drop the head.
  4. Exhale, tuck the tail bone under, round the spine towards the ceiling, opening across the upper back and shoulders. The chin slightly under as you look at your belly button.
  5. Inhale, curl the tail bone up, scooping the lower back, belly expanding towards the floor. Chest opens as the chin lifts and you roll the eyeballs up, looking behind you.
  6. Repeat for 5 to 10 breaths.
  7. When you are finished, move your bottom back towards your heels and take a few resting breaths in Child’s Pose. Roll the wrists

 

Side Bend

Side bends are great for creating length in the rib cage and opening up space for your organs. They can also help with lower back discomfort. Energetically, side bends open the Gall Bladder meridian which helps with indecision.

  1. Sit cross-legged, sits bones rooted down, crown of the head reaching up, spine long. Soften the neck and shoulders by rolling them a few times. Come back to centre, sitting tall.
  2. Extend the arms out to the sides, walking the finger tips along the floor until they just touch the floor.
  3. Inhale, lift the right arm up, fingers towards the ceiling, lower the shoulder away from the ear lobe.
  4. Exhale, keeping the arm long, bend to the left, walking the left fingers away a few steps, keeping the knees heading down towards the floor. Think about the right shoulder staying inline with the torso and not rolling forward. Open the heart.
  5. Inhale, lift the right arm up, fingers towards the ceiling.
  6. Exhale, lower the hand to the floor. Give the shoulders a little roll.
  7. Repeat on the left side.
  8. You may wish to repeat, moving from side to side with the breath as above or after a few rounds, you may wish to hold the pose for a few breaths on each side.

 

Twist

Twists are probably my favourite poses. I love the feeling of my torso becoming a spiral, creating space, massaging my insides. Twists also create a lot of space for breath. It’s important to remember to take your time entering a twist – don’t lead with the head! Start with the lower torso and spiral your way up the body, the neck and head are the last parts to move. Think of a corkscrew or a spiral staircase. There are many different twists and variations, this one is a simple seated twist.

  1. Sit cross-legged, sits bones rooted down, crown of the head reaching up, spine long. Soften the neck and shoulders by rolling them a few times. Come back to centre, sitting tall.
  2. Place your right hand on your left knee, left arm is behind you, near your bottom with finger tips on the floor. The torso, neck and chin are inline with your left knee.
  3. Inhale, find length and grow tall.
  4. Exhale, using the hand on the knee and hand on the floor as leverage, begin at the bottom of your waist, turning your torso to the left. Push the knee down, don’t lift it up.
  5. Inhale for space.
  6. Exhale, stay where you are or maybe you twist a micro-millemetre more.
  7. Breath in the twist for 3 full inhales and exhales.
  8. Gently unwind back to the centre on an exhale.
  9. Repeat, twisting to the right.
  10. You may wish to repeat the twist to each side a few times.

 

 

 

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One Response to Short After Work Practice

  1. Really good post idea 🙂

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