Stress literally makes us dumber.
When you’re under chronic stress, your body taps into the area of your brain that’s responsible for your fight-or-flight response rather than your rational thinking.
Thankfully, we can practice yoga.
So here are three yoga poses that will help you remember how to relax again.
1. Viparita Karani.
This pose is also known as legs-up-the-wall pose because, not surprisingly, you recline on your back with your legs up a wall. However, you can also elevate your hips on a low bolster or block.
This pose is so completely calming to your nervous system, that it’s also the go-to pose for insomnia.
2. Child’s pose.
Child’s pose is one of my personal favorites for an easy quick fix to battle anxiety and fatigue.
It’s a gentle forward fold and extremely mild inversion, which can be calming in and of themselves, and it’s also a moderate hip-opener too. Since we tend to hold tension in our hips, releasing tightness both in this area and along your spine will help you to naturally bring a sensation of relaxation back into your body.
Start on all fours with your big toes together. Take your knees as wide apart as it feels good to you. Then, hinge from your hip-crease (where your upper thighs meet your pelvis) and fold forward either over or between your thighs. If your head doesn’t easily come to rest upon the floor, don’t force it (because how relaxing is that). Instead, use a yoga block, stacked fists or another surface where you can more comfortably place your forehead. (This will allow you to sink more deeply into your breath and body.)
3. Running man.
According to Patanjali, yoga is simply the cessation of the fluctuations of your mind. Well, it sounds simple at least, but it’s much more complicated once you begin to try it.
One of the absolute best ways that I’ve found to practice yoga is ironically nowhere near my mat.
Here’s how to try out running man: tie on a good pair of jogging shoes, open your front door, and put one foot in front of the other as you run around your block.
Feel yourself instantly chill out as the wind whips through your hair and the sun kisses your skin.
See, sometimes you don’t even need a yoga mat to practice yoga.
Okay, so these poses may or may not increase your IQ immediately after you practice them, but I will promise you this: we do not make our best decisions out of fear, and, unfortunately, that’s exactly where we physiologically make choices when we’re placed under constant stress.
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Ed: Bryonie Wise