Wipe the slate clean each day. Like a white board. Too much stress adds up and overflows our limits, resulting in pain and misery and ill health. What to do? How to relax, restore, and renew?
I often recommend Yoga, Tai Chi and Feldenkreis classes for my patients. Breathing, meditation, and time with one’s spiritual practices can be very helpful to our quality of life. I always recommend good eating, exercise, and self care. Additional considerations during the dark time of year are full spectrum lighting and extra Vitamin D.
Often times the “things to do” list for self care is too much, either because you are too tired, too stretched, or too depleted. I have included a few very simple and very practical poses that can achieve amazing results in as little as 5 to 15 minutes.
1) Lay on your back. Support the knees with a pillow or rolled blanket. Support the neck comfortably with a rolled towel or pillow. Cover up for warmth. Turn off the phone, turn on some quiet music or just quiet, put the animals out of the room. (a do-not-disturb sign may be necessary in some households) Close your eyes. Now breathe deeply into your belly. Simply follow your breath in and out, allowing yourself to relax on the exhalation. We take breathing for granted. I guarantee if you are able to do 10 minutes of a well supported deep breathing you will feel some restoration.
1A) for a little more intense experience, lay on the floor with your legs up a wall so that your legs are bent at a 90 degree angle from the floor. Same as above for warm and quiet. Again, focus on your breathing and allow your busy mind to take a break.
2) Stand in a quiet and warm environment. Place your feet shoulder width and parallel. Bend your knees slightly, keeping them as wide as your feet. (there should not be pain in the knees) Relax your tailbone, straighten your spine, and allow your head to sit comfortably directly over the spine. Let your shoulders be relaxed, arms quiet by your sides. Focus on your breath, each inhalation long and full, and each exhalation long and complete. If your mind wanders, come back to your breathing. If your legs get tired, bend them less and follow your breath.
2A) For a more intense challenge, allow your arms to raise up in front of your chest as if you are holding a big beach ball between your arms and your body. Keep the shoulders relaxed and follow your breath, just like the other exercises. Over time, work up to 5 minutes of holding this posture.
Yoga, T’ai Chi, Chi Gong, and Feldenkreis are all body-mind-spirit exercises that promote relaxation, restoration, and daily renewal. In our world of stress, busy..ness, and multitasking, 5 minutes a day to stop, breathe, and wipe the slate clean’ can enhance your well being. I hope you will try these exercises and find peace and joy this holiday season.