Settle & Calm Your Nerves with Yoga
No matter your level of flexibility, athleticism, or experience with yoga, I’ve always believed that a grounding and settling practice is something that everyone can relate to. In a world that has us wired to look outside of our selves, surely the best way to take care of our body and mind is to turn back in.
Cultivating a yoga practice that helps us connect deeply with ourselves and at times, asks us to move more slowly, provides our over-stimulated nervous system with a welcome respite from the frenzied pace of life that so many of us unwittingly live. Practicing grounding down to settle and soothe your nerves is a beautiful gesture to the innate healing properties of our body to bring us back to a state of neutrality that allows a greater sense of overall wellbeing.
If you already have a home practice of your own, or are simply looking for ways to relieve stress, here are a few simple methods to create a more peaceful practice for yourself.
Stay Low: Focus your attention on your feet and the ground beneath them. Notice the way it feels—the heaviness and natural weighted-quality of your lower body. The sensation of being low and staying low invites a grounding feeling of calm, of safety, and ultimately pulls you back down to earth when you feel stuck in your head.
Work Your Hips and Legs: It’s a natural inclination to pay attention to these areas when you do a grounding sequence and not only does it work but it feels great too. Work deep into your hips, hamstrings, quads, and calf muscles with poses like parsvottanasana (intense side stretch pose), uttanasana (standing forward fold), rajakapotasana (pigeon pose), and gomukhasana (cow-face pose) that not only open up those muscles but provide the calmness and introspection of a forward fold.
Breathe Deeply: If you are new to meditation and find that paying attention to your breath elicits more irritation than anything, try a more specific and guided breath called alternate-nostril breathing.
On your right hand, fold down your index and middle finger and start by placing your ring finger on your left nostril. Close your eyes and inhale in for 5 counts through your right nostril, pinch your nose and while holding your breath, count to 5, then release your index finger and exhale out through your left nostril and repeat the sequence as many times as you like. You can extend your inhales and exhalations if you feel comfortable.