Find focus with yoga
Yoga may be more than 5,000 years old, but we’re just starting to discover all of its health benefits. Certainly, yoga tones and strengthens, but it can also help lower blood pressure and ease depression.
“Yoga helps to release tension in the mind and the body,” says René Johnson, a yoga instructor and owner of Shanti Yoga in Edmonton. “With deep rhythmic breathing, you can calm the mind, soothe the nervous system, increase blood circulation, reduce muscle tension and improve respiration. By doing even just a few minutes of yoga a day, you will become more focused, grounded and centred.” The payoff, she adds, includes a calmer mind, a more positive attitude and greater productivity at work.
Try these three soothing moves, which you can do in a series, or individually. “These postures will help you to invigorate the nervous system and stretch the body,” says Johnson.
“This position helps you change your perspective on the world, and increases blood flow to the brain and kidneys,” says Johnson.
Stand tall, arms by your sides. Ensure the quadriceps (muscles on the front of your thighs) are engaged. Start with a slight bend in the knees, and firm the muscles as you straighten your legs to protect your knees from hyperextending. This also stretches your hamstrings (muscles at the back of your thighs). Inhale deeply and exhale as you fold forward, drawing in your lower belly. Hold your elbows and relax your torso, allowing your upper body to hang. Hold up to five minutes, then slowly roll up, one vertebra at a time, allowing your head to come up last.
Hold for one to five minutes to gently stretch your wrists, relax your shoulders and balance your body and mind. The benefits? Better energy and concentration.
Stand or sit with your palms together at heart level. Press them with equal pressure against each other. Draw your lower belly toward your spine and drop your tailbone toward the floor. Lift and expand your chest, letting your shoulders slide down. As you hold the pose, close your eyes. It’s normal to feel like you’re swaying slightly. Try to distribute your weight evenly between your toes and heels. Observe as much as you can within your body. Breathe steadily and deeply through your nose.
This helps open the chest so you can breathe more deeply. Longer breaths relax your nervous system and help you combat stress.
Inhale deeply and raise your arms-with palms facing up-over your head. Try to keep your shoulders down. Exhale and lower your arms-with palms facing down-to your sides. Repeat three or more times with slow, controlled movements synchronized with your breath.
Practise Yoga for Beginners and Beyond
Customize your own yoga program with 40 specific routines to choose from! From the beaches of Antigua comes this incredible set: Yoga for Beginners, Yoga for Stress Relief (with insight from the Dalai Lama) and Yoga for Weight Loss. Whether it’s flexibility, strength, or clarity you seek on any given day, these 90-minute routines offer the variety to create your own personal nirvana.