Tips to a have relaxing yoga session, written by Ellyn Louise Ahlemeyer
Yoga practice has longed been used to alleviate stress and, in a world as busy, chaotic and bustling as ours, it’s more necessary today than ever. But the benefits of regular yoga practice go far beyond the physical. I sat down with certified yoga instructor, Stephanie Kenneweg, to ask her how specific yoga poses can aid stress relief and anxiety, and how yoga can give you the space to discover more about self-love.
I loved the reply when I asked her which pose makes you feel the most calm: the child’s pose. The perfect way to calm your nerves, Stephanie explains, for this pose you sit back on your heels, spread your knees out on your mat and place your forehead on the ground with your arms stretching out in front of you or by your sides. The child’s pose qualifies as an ‘inversion’ (used to describe any pose where your heart is above your head), and takes the pumping pressure off your heart muscle, allowing your body to go into a state of rest and digest. Personally, I find that whenever I do the child’s pose, all the stresses of the day seem to melt away. Stephanie recommends this pose before you sleep or after a long workday to release and relax.
Another simple, calming pose is the forward fold. Simply bend forward, hinging at your hips, and reach for the ground. Allow yourself to let everything go, even letting your arms dangle, if you prefer. This pose is particularly effective for anxiety because it works with your parasympathetic nervous system to calm your body (yay for inversions!). When coming out of this pose, Stephanie recommends that you place your hands on your hips and slowly roll up your spine, vertebra by vertebra.
Considered one of the most powerful inversions, handstands are a wonderful pose for stress relief. But while they are quite the craze in the yoga world, it’s one I certainly haven’t mastered quite yet. As a former gymnast-turned-yoga-instructor, Stephanie is no stranger to a handstand. So, I had to ask: what’s the benefit? According to Stephanie, the great thing about handstands is that they’re essentially a full body workout, strengthening your arms, legs and core. Headstands can also be meditative because you’re completely focused on your balance – using an ample amount of both mental and physical concentration allows your mind and body to become totally present.
My final question was a personal one for Stephanie: what does she get out of yoga? She explained how yoga practice has given her the ability to tune into her emotions. For Stephanie, when she practices yoga, her mind becomes quiet, present and aware. Regular yoga practice has created a stronger connection between her mind and her body, allowing her to really tune into how she is feeling. Becoming present is a very high form of self-love – what a beautiful way to honour yourself.
So there you have it yogis. I hope you feel all the loving calmness when you try these yoga poses for yourself.