Yoga + Focused Concentration = Less Stress
Stress from work, school, and family can build throughout the day until, when it’s finally time to get some much needed rest, you have trouble closing your eyes. You need a full night’s sleep, that’s a solid seven to eight hours every night, to rejuvenate, energize, and refresh the body for a new day. Yoga and focused concentration both offer ways to help clear your mind, slow your heart rate, and prepare your mind and body for better sleep.
Yoga, especially those forms that use directed breathing, reduce the inflammation brought on by stress. Focusing your mind and body before bed has measurable benefits by reducing the activity of proteins that cause stress-related inflammation. Yoga Asana also helps relieve tension and tightness in muscles.
Focused concentration that centers on mindfulness is another way to help center your mind, putting stressful events and thoughts in the background for better sleep. Mindfulness concentration encourages practitioners to focus on the moment so that thoughts and emotions center in the present rather than dwelling on the past or speculating about the future. This type of concentration helps relieve symptoms of depression, chronic pain, and conditions like high blood pressure.
Yoga for Better Sleep
Yogic and concentration techniques can be performed before getting into bed or after you’ve laid down. When doing poses in bed, your mattress type may prevent you from getting a stretch with the same intensity you are used to on the floor, but that doesn’t reduce the relaxing benefits.
Standing Forward Bend
Stand with the feet hip-width apart, folding from your hips toward the ground. Reach your arms to the ground. You can grab your elbows with your hands and let your arms gently dangle for a better stretch. Slightly bend your knees to relieve any strain. Breathe deeply using your diaphragm.
Seated Spinal Twist
Start by sitting on a mat or your bed with both legs out straight in front of you. Bend your left knee, bringing your left foot over your right leg. Gently hold your left leg with your right hand, and twist your torso so you’re looking over your left shoulder. You can keep your right leg straight or bend it toward your left hip. Take up to eight deep breaths, release, and repeat on the other side.
On your knees, sit with your knees wider than your hips and bring your big toes together. Lengthen your torso between your legs. Extend your arms out in front or rest them beside your legs. Let your forehead drop toward the ground or your bed. Take up to eight long, deep breaths before releasing.
Focused Concentration works well once you’re lying in bed. Start by focusing on your breath. Breathe deeply using your diaphragm and listen to the sound of the air entering and leaving your lungs. Focus your mind on the calming sound of your breath. If it helps, focus on a calming word with each inhale and exhale. As you continue breathing, keep your mind focused by pulling it back to your breathing when it begins to wander. Continue until you feel calm, quiet, and relaxed. You may even drift off to sleep.
Special thanks to TUCK for their contribution of this blog and active work in the study of Mindfullness, Sleep and accessing Dhyana (Meditation).
Tuck Sleep Foundation is a community devoted to improving sleep hygiene, health and wellness through the creation and dissemination of comprehensive, unbiased, free web-based resources. Tuck has been featured on NPR, Lifehacker, Radiolab and is referenced by many colleges/universities and sleep organizations across the web.
We all know that the only way to truly prepare for Winter sports is to get out there and do them. Whether you are heading to Heavenly or Kirkwood, Squaw or Sierra at Tahoe, yoga asana and breath work as well as mindful practices can help you to feel strong, safe and aware while out on the snow. Try out these simple practices in order to prepare for this year's season. You won't regret it.
There are many yoga asana (poses) that can help you to strengthen as well as recover from your day out on the slopes. An experienced and knowledgeable instructor will be able to guide you through theses poses and teach you how to use them in a way that helps you prepare for your day out, then release afterward.
Yudrasana (Lunge) - raising and lowering between high and low lunges.
Deviasana (Goddess) - holding, and also shifting your upper body from side-to-side.
Virabhadrasana Dvi (Warrior Two) - holding, as well as rotating.
Parsvottanasana - intense side stretch.
Supta Virasana - reclined hero
Svastikasana - auspicious pose/reclined twist variation
Join any of our practices or book a private session to focus on your specific needs. Ask us to demonstrate and explain the poses above.
Have a practice that you enjoy doing before and/or after your day on the slopes?
Share the postures or practices that you have found make a difference during your Winter days.
Why do you practice Yoga? Is it for fitness, relaxation, because your friends do it? Yoga is not something that we do in order to get something. It is a practice for life. If you've been practicing and haven't noticed any changes beyond the physical, perhaps it's time to change your perspective.
Yoga is an ancient practice and science. What was discovered long ago by the ancient yogis was that there was more to meditation than what they new. With each new level of consciousness reached, they sought more, they reached further. Today, although our practice begins with the physical, we still must strive to go beyond what we know we can do. We must seek beyond what we want.
Through fitness, we find strength and balance in our bodies which moves us beyond our limits; beyond our fears. Through relaxation we find an inner calm that we can draw upon even in the most stressful of situations. Through connections with others, we discover the bond of all things in the universe.
How can your practice move you beyond your self? Take the time to seek more than what you expect, more than what want. Dedicate yourself more fully to the practice and be open to the experiences that arrive on your path.