Yoga Stress Control

Yoga can help you achieve stress control. Two yoga poses and meditation to help reduce stress. These basic yogic practices are suitable for all fitness levels.

In today's society, stress is an expected part of life. How we deal with our stress is important to our overall well being. The effects of this so familiar malady are felt in our bodies, and upon our mental health. Some people feel stress in shoulder and neck muscles, or in the lower back. Others have difficulty sleeping, or concentrating on day to day tasks. No matter how you react to stress or what its causes, you can confront this affliction using simple yoga techniques.

Yoga is a physical and mental process designed to bring the practitioner's body and mind together. People of any fitness level can practice yoga, not just the extremely flexible. The yoga exercises outlined in this article are for use by all body types, or philosophies. Learn and practice these exercises, and not only will you be able to say, "I practice yoga." You will be able to say, "I have found a method to control my stress."

The first, and most important yogic exercise is shavasana, or "corpse pose." It is both a physical and a mental exercise. The point is to completely relax the body so that it resembles an actual corpse. The mind is also stilled. Thoughts are not allowed. In this way the mind is relaxed, and purified. Below are the essential steps to this exercise.

1. Lie on your back with your eyes closed. You should be comfortable and on a flat surface. Preferably on a carpeted floor, or on a yoga mat.

2. Position your arms about two feet from your body with your palms up.

3. Spread your feet about a foot apart.

4. To release tension in your neck, turn your head from side to side.

5. Now begin to consciously relax. Start with the toes, and move up the body. Repeat until all parts are relaxed. This may be difficult the first time. You may want to tell your self, "I am relaxed, completely relaxed." You may also want to tell an uncooperative part of you to give in by saying, "Relax lower back!"

6. Feel and hear your breathing. Do not force or try to control it. Consider it an entity of itself.

7. Relax your mind. If thoughts drift in and out, simply ignore them. Picture them as leaves on a river. Allow them to drift away from you.

8. Continue to observe your breath, if this is a challenge use the sound "OOMMM" to redirect your focus on stillness. This is a "mantra." A mantra is a sound a yogi uses to evoke certain energies while meditating. This one represents the universe translated to sound.

9. Continue your focus on breath until you have achieved the amount of relaxation or stillness you desire. To bring yourself out of the trance-like state this meditation induces, begin to allow your thoughts to remain with you, and let your breathing become more controlled.

Now that you can become as relaxed as the dead, turn your concentration to the energy that gives you life. The next meditation is concentrated on your breath and your chakras. Your chakras are centers of energy found between your tailbone and the top of your head. This is a chakra opening exercise.

1. Sit comfortably in a cross legged position. Keep your spine straight. Consider it a tunnel or a pipe. Energy must be able to flow through unhindered. Close your eyes.

2. Now imagine a ball of light in each of the following locations in your body: just above your tailbone, behind your navel, below, and behind your ribcage (your solar plexus), the center of your chest, your throat, the center of your forehead, and just above your head.

3. Next, focus on the first ball of light. This is your base chakra. It is also your sexual center. Breathe in deeply. Imagine your breath reaching this point of your body. As you exhale, imagine you are moving the stress related to your sexual life up to the next ball of light.

4. Concentrate on the second ball of light. This is your artistic center. Inhale, and imagine this breath reaching your naval. As you breathe out, imagine your creative frustrations, and sexual tensions are moving up to the next ball of light.

5. Imagine the third ball of light. It is your solar plexus. Unresolved conflicts leave this area tight. As you inhale again imagine you are filling this area with your breath. Move all of the tension from this and previous chakras up to the center of your chest as you exhale.

6. Now picture the next ball of light. It is your heart chakra. This is your emotional center. All of your emotional tension is kept here. Disappointments, or anxieties settle in this chakra. Breathe in, and fill this area. Once again, move all of the stress up to the next ball of light.

7. Concentrate on the next chakra. This is your throat chakra. It is your communication center. All of the things you have left unsaid cause tension here. As you breathe in, imagine your breath stimulating this area. Exhale, and bring all of your stress up to the middle of your forehead.

8. Imagine the sixth ball of light in the middle of your forehead. This is your third eye. It is the chakra of perception. Using this center you can see the world as it really is. As you breathe in, imagine feeding this ball of light. Exhale and push your stress to the top of your head, about an inch above your physical body.

9. Focus on the seventh and final chakra. It is your crown chakra, or spiritual center. As you breathe in again, imagine your breath filling your physical body. Exhale, and push your stress away from your entire being.

With these two exercises, you can begin a stress management routine through yoga. These should be done at least once a week to create a feeling of relaxation. You may also want to add other meditations or yoga poses to create your own personal yoga practice for stress management. There are many books, and online resources to find other meditations and poses.

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