Local yoga teacher Kiki Morriss (Primrose Hill Yoga) shares some yoga poses to help relieve the stress.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to reduce anxiety and to feel calm and reassured, particularly during these uncertain times, is to lengthen your exhalations with a simple breathing exercise called ‘2:1 breathing’.
Deep relaxation is a vital part of life, but we often forget how to access it. When you lengthen your exhalation in ‘2:1 breathing’, you soothe your nervous system by decreasing the fight-flight-fright response of the sympathetic nervous system and by increasing the rest-renew-heal response of the parasympathetic nervous system. This helps you feel calm, in control of your experience and connected with yourself and the world.
Traditionally you sit in a cross-legged position, but it is fine to lie on your back or sit in a chair, if that is more comfortable for you.
- Close your eyes.
- Count how long it takes you to breathe in.
- Breathe out for double the length of your inhalation – so if you breathe in for 4 counts, you breathe out for 8 counts.
- Continue for 5 minutes.
- Return to a natural breathing pattern and observe yourself breathing for a further minute.
Practise 2:1 breathing twice a day in the same place and at the same time.
Mindful movements help you to focus on your body and breath, to let go of thoughts of the past and future and to be aware of the reality of the present. When we move and breathe consciously, we recover ourselves completely and encounter life in the present moment. This is the essence of a yoga practice. Every breath we take, every movement we make, can be filled with peace and joy. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.
These mindful movements will stretch and strengthen your arms, shoulders and back whilst calming and focusing your mind.
- Sit in a cross-legged position or in a chair.
- Bring your hands into a prayer position in front of your chest.
- Close your eyes.
- Breathe in and lift your arms above your head, keeping your hands in the prayer position.
- Breathe out and move your arms wide out to the sides, as if drawing a circle around yourself.
- Bring your arms by your sides and then bring your hands back to prayer position in front of your chest.
- Repeat 5 times.
- Reverse the direction and repeat 5 times.
Child’s pose encourages restful sleep and settles you when you are feeling overwrought. It stretches your spine, feet, ankles, legs and hips.
- Kneel with your legs and feet together.
- Sit on your heels.
- Rest your forehead on the ground.
- Bring your arms by your sides with your palms facing up
- Close your eyes.
- Breathe slowly for 3 minutes.
As you relax into Child’s pose, become aware of the movement of your back as you breathe in and out. The lower lobes of your lungs are situated in your back and you will be breathing well if you can feel them expanding on each inhalation and softening on each exhalation.
This graceful pose strengthens your legs and ankles whilst stretching your chest, shoulders, arms and back. It helps you develop good posture, balance and confidence.
If you find it difficult to find your balance in Dancer pose, observe how you respond to the challenge. Through yoga we learn to maintain equilibrium of mind, regardless of our environment and regardless of how we are challenged.
- Stand with your feet together.
- Bend your right knee and hold the inside edge of your right foot with your right hand.
- Reach your left arm forwards and up.
- Lift your right leg up and back, and press your right foot into your right hand.
- Breathe 5 times as you balance in the pose.
- Lower your right leg and left arm.
- Repeat on the other side.
Yoga Nidra is similar to a guided meditation as you lie under a blanket or duvet and listen as you are guided to deep relaxation. I teach it to my students at the end of every yoga class, and it is the best way I have found to help them experience complete physical, emotional and mental relaxation.
I recently teamed up with award-winning composer Anné Kulonen to make an album of Yoga Nidra practices. The album is called Becalmed and is available on iTunes. You can choose to use Yoga Nidra as an aid to restful sleep, or as a daytime practice to relieve stress whilst increasing productivity and focus. A gentle soundscape will soothe you, whatever the time of day.
Live Online Yoga Classes
Prior to the Covid-19 lockdown, I taught yoga classes in my home studio in Primrose Hill. Now I’ve moved the classes online and am surprised how much my students and I are enjoying the experience.
I particularly love teaching online early in the morning before my children are awake. Usually I would be rushing them through breakfast and hustling them out of the door to get to school. Now I have this quiet time to share the healing teachings of yoga with my students. It reminds me of early morning lessons at the yoga ashrams in India and Canada, where I trained to teach yoga. It’s a very special time to practise yoga.
If you are interested in joining an online class or would like the class schedule, please contact me via www.primrosehillyoga.com