Embracing the Calmness of a Yoga Practice
April 24, 2023
Does your life feel like a series of ever-faster days, trying to fit in more appointments and activities, leaving you feeling frazzled and out of control? Or are you enjoying a sense of calmness and control when you wake up in the morning?
If the first person sounds more like you right now, let us reassure you that you’re not alone. Many people feel overwhelmed by everything they try to fit into each day. Establishing a regular yoga practice can help you establish or regain that elusive sense of calmness.
Don’t get us wrong – we’re not asking you to fit one more thing into a schedule that is already getting the better of you. Instead, we’d like you to consider yoga as an opportunity to turn inward, let your mind catch up with your body, and change your life. Here’s how you could benefit.
How Yoga Encourages Calmness and Relaxation
It’s easy to look at yoga as a form of workout, but doing that would mean losing out on some of the greatest benefits of the practice. Practicing yoga extends far beyond the physical benefits of the individual asanas.
The calmness of a yoga practice comes from aligning your mind and your body with your breath. Asanas of yoga poses are an integral part of the practice, but adding breathing exercises and mindfulness meditation will help you bring a lasting sense of calmness into your daily life.
The stressors you’re currently dealing with may not immediately go away, but practicing yoga regularly gives you several powerful tools to deal with them. So, what’s the secret behind yoga’s impact? Well, it’s not a secret, really. As a holistic practice, yoga affects your nervous system.
Think of your nervous system as your electrical wiring, a network of connections that constantly send messages across the body. Your nervous system makes you experience pleasure and feel pain, for example. It also controls biological processes like your heart rate. Put simply, there are two parts to our nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system controls your instinctive fight or flight reactions, while the parasympathetic part is responsible for resting and digesting.
When both parts are out of balance or the sympathetic nervous system becomes overactive, we start to feel stressed and overwhelmed. Yoga helps balance the two aspects by aligning your breath and movement. Some of the most beneficial yoga practices in this context are yin yoga and yoga nidra. But if you can’t get to a yoga class right now, start by exploring the practices below.
Cultivating Calmness of a Yoga Practice
Finding inner peace and tranquility can be a challenging feat in today’s fast-paced world, but through the practice of yoga, we can learn to cultivate a sense of calmness within ourselves. Learn these five yoga practices to maintain your daily peace of mind:
1. Breathing Exercises
Breathing exercises, or pranayama, are essential to aligning your breath with your body and establishing a sense of calm. Nadi shodhana (alternate nostril breathing) is a great technique to help you settle into a calming and relaxing yoga practice. Click here for a brief introduction to this breathing technique.
2. Easy Pose and Neck Roll
Start by sitting in a comfortable position with your legs crossed. If you’re struggling to get comfortable, consider sitting on a yoga block or a couple of books. This will help your hips relax and allows you to tune into your breath. Now let your head fall forward and start moving your head around in full circles. Complete a few circles to the left, then to the right. Finally, return to an easy pose with a straight back and the crown of your head lifted.
3. Standing Forward Bend
Slowly move your hands toward your feet. Don’t force your fingers to touch your toes unless you have the flexibility. Release the weight of your head, and let your neck and shoulders relax. Keep your legs straight or bend your knees slightly, depending on how you feel more comfortable. If your legs are straight, be sure to engage the muscles in your upper thighs.
Cross your forearms and gently weave from the left to the right. This should feel effortless and only add to your sense of relaxation and release. Once ready, open your arms and slowly roll up your spine, vertebrae by vertebrae.
4. Child’s Pose
Come to your knees in an easy kneeling position, sitting on your heels. Bend forward and extend your arms in front of you, allowing your upper body to rest on your thighs. Feel free to move your arms backward and rest them parallel to your body. Vary this pose by changing the space between your knees for even deeper relaxation.
5. Savasana or Corpse Pose
Lie on your mat and hug your knees into your body. When you feel ready, put your legs flat on the mat and your arms next to your body. Your shoulders should be relaxed on the mat. Let your feet open and open your palms toward the ceiling.
Spend a few minutes here, allowing every part of your body to relax, including your face. Let your breath guide you as you’re relaxing every single body part. Savasana is also an excellent pose to help you transition back to your daily routine or to move into mindfulness meditation.
Start Your Calmness Practice at Uptown Yoga
Even if you’ve never practiced yoga before, these breathing exercises and poses can help calm your mind and your body. During our classes at Uptown Yoga, we make sure to integrate breathing exercises as well as calming poses to guide you toward a sense of calm that transcends into everything else you do.
If you’re still struggling to integrate that sense of calm into your day, consider working one-on-one with one of our instructors. Uptown Yoga’s private classes are tailored to your needs and goals. Regaining calmness and relaxation in your daily life is worth it.