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I hope that you enjoy this blog post written by Ashley Barto, a dietetic intern at The Ohio State University. She shares her insights about yoga and relaxation.

The holidays are over for many of us. If not, they will be in the next few weeks. Are you hoping to be more “calm” in the New Year? If so, now is a great time to explore calming practices including breathing and yoga. My favorite way to stay grounded and grateful during this busy season is through Yoga. Let’s focus on two of the main parts of Yoga: physical poses and breathing. Use these techniques to help you regroup and stay grounded when chaos ensues. Yoga is for everybody and every body. It doesn’t require anything more than your own body and mind to incorporate yoga both on and off the mat.

Let’s start with the breath. For a long time, breathing has been connected to the relaxation response. This means that our breath is closely linked with the fight-or-flight response our body experiences while under stress. We can help to control our body’s response by taking control of our breathing. Slow, deep breaths help to shift our nervous system from a high stress response to one of control and calm. While there are many different types of breathing techniques, “Square Breathing” is an easy one that can be practiced anywhere. Start by inhaling for a count of 4, holding for 4, slowing exhaling for 4, and holding again for 4. Repeat this as many times as you like until you feel a greater sense of calm.

Yoga Pose

Mountain Pose

When you want to take your calming practice a step further, you can incorporate some simple yoga poses into your day. Typically, calming poses are ones that involve strong contact with the floor or ground – with your feet, legs, or even back. Even sitting in a chair with your feet on the floor is considering grounding. Standing poses such as “Mountain Pose” can be done anywhere and requires no more space than the spot you are standing on. The biggest thing to focus on is making contact with the floor and the four points of your feet.

Turning inward is another practice that helps to calm the mind. In yoga, one of the ways we do this is by folding forward. You can do this while you are standing, seated on the floor, or even in a chair. If your hamstrings feel particularly tight, simply take a modification of bending your knees so your stomach can make contact with your thighs. Another option if you are in a chair is to place a pillow on your lap.

Picture of Calm - rocks and flower

Focus on Calm

Finding just a few moments of quiet for some deep breathing or simple yoga moves can make all the difference in your mindset. Help keep your calm with these techniques and let us know if you’ve tried them!

 

 

Sources:

Harvard University; April 2018

https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/relaxation-techniques-breath-control-helps-quell-errant-stress-response

Sengupta P. Health Impacts of Yoga and Pranayama: A State-of-the-Art Review. Int J Prev Med. 2012;3(7):444-458.

https://kripalu.org/resources/benefits-forward-bends

https://kripalu.org/resources/get-grounded-mountain-pose

Written by: Ashley Barto, Dietetic Intern, Ohio State University, barto.21@osu.edu

Reviewed by: Marilyn Rabe, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Franklin County, rabe.9@osu.edu

Michelle Treber, Family and Consumer Sciences Educator, Ohio State University Extension, Pickaway County, treber.1@osu.edu

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