It is no secret that when practiced regularly, yoga does wonders for your body and mind. It helps you create a connection between your body and mind, cultivate inner peace, and reach higher levels of relaxation.
However, doing a long yoga class is not always an available option. On tough days, when you feel very stressed and cannot get on the mat, we suggest trying some of the following relaxation techniques to refresh and renew your mind.
Breathing exercises known as Pranayama help you soothe your mind and body using the power of breath. If you only have 10 minutes, a short Pranayama practice is a perfect way to feel centred and calmer instantly.
Here are some of the breathing exercises that soothe your nervous system:
Bhramari or Bumblebee Breath. Breathe in as normal and hum on the breath out feeling the vibration in your facial muscles, sinuses and chest. For extra luxurious practice, sit in a child's pose and place your head on the floor to enjoy this pranayama to its fullest.
Nadi Shodhana or alternate nostril breathing helps you clear the energy that might be stuck in your body. With the help of your ring finger and thumb, you'll be closing alternate nostrils to allow your breath to come in through one side, and come out through the other.
Ujjayi breath, also known as victorious or 'ocean breath', is often heard in Vinyasa-style classes. You slow down the flow of the breath by narrowing the backchannel of the throat and thus making the sound that sounds like ocean waves. You can practice it with your mouth open or closed.
These breathing techniques help you release all the accumulated tension and stress. When performed frequently, they help improve the quality of your sleep and overall health.
Known as yogic sleep, Yoga Nidra is a practice that encourages deep relaxation and promotes better sleep quality. All you need to do is lay down, let very comfortable and cosy and let the teacher's voice do its magic.
During Yoga Nidra, you will slowly move into a calmer state for both the mind and body through guided meditation. This exercise releases pressure, slows down the nervous system, and enables muscle relaxation.
We suggest finding a luxurious 30-minute practice on Insight timer to do before sleep or first thing in the morning and let the (virtual) teacher guide you through Yoga Nidra to get the absolute best out of this wonderful stress-reliever.
Restorative yoga is all about stillness, long holds, and deep breathing to soothe your nervous system through complete comfort. 5 core rules of restorative yoga are stillness, darkness, warmth, comfort and quiet. Doesn't that sound like a setup for the most blissful relaxation? You will need props like blankets, eye pillow and cushions or bolster to ensure your muscles are not working and you are in the safest and most relaxed state possible.
By giving more time to each pose, restorative yoga activates the parasympathetic nervous system and initiates the relaxation response that helps slow down breathing, reduce blood pressure, and restore overall balance. It also relaxes the muscles and releases tension from the body.
Meditation is one of the most popular yoga techniques used to reduce stress. There's no need for a studio or special place to practice it. You can do it while sitting on a train ride back home or at your office desk for five minutes. You only need 5-10 minutes of meditation to achieve a deeper relaxation and rest than in a full night's sleep.
In meditation, you learn to focus your mind on what truly matters and let go of what does not serve you. Not only does it enhance your physical and emotional well-being, but it also significantly benefits your general health.