Yoga is my Stress Buster.

January 27, 2011

Bound Pigeon Pose
photo credit: stephcarter

A HUGE kudos to BigSis for completing that first round of P90X, for all the great advice on what to expect from this program, and for the terrific tips on how to stick to it. And since round one didn't kill her, she's actually moving on to round 2! 🙂

I hope her testimonial will encourage some of you to try the P90X Extreme Home Fitness Workout Program. I know she was extremely happy with the results from round one! I wish that I could commit to trying P90X, but at this particular point in my life, I know it would be “almost” impossible for me and I don't want to set myself up to fail.

In my household, it's very rare that I find an hour a day to myself without interruptions. Right now, I've got a hubby that works from home half the day, who requires a lot of admin support from me and a 17 year old with an unique schedule that keeps him running in and out of the house at odd times during the day.

There's never a dull moment in our house!

I do manage to get to the gym twice a week for weight training and I go on my six mile walk four times a week, no matter what, but I haven't been able to get the yoga back into my routine.

Almost a year and a half ago, I started back to my yoga classes three times a week after being out with a foot injury. After getting back into my routine, I don't why, but somewhere along the way, I let the demands of my job and various other pressures interfere with my yoga practice. Gradually, I was only attending two classes a week, then one, and then none!

2010 was a very stressful year for us, “professionally” and it has definitely taken a toll on my body. When I needed it the most, I put other things first instead of listening to my body and realizing how much stress was affecting me. We all know our bodies and know what we need to do to feel our very best. For me, yoga is the only thing that helps me feel better when I've got too much stress.

Stress affects different people in different ways, but these are my worst symptoms:

  • Stomach problems
  • Knots in my back
  • Stiff neck
  • Intense anxiety
  • Worry
  • Chronic insomnia

And we all know what stress does to cortisol levels and how that plays a factor in weight gain, especially “belly fat!” Yep, I've got that, too! 🙁

This article from Mayo Clinic on stress management confirms that stress symptoms can be affecting your health, even if you don't realize it. In the same article, Mayo Clinic lists the five top ways to help manage stress as:

  • Physical activity
  • Relaxation techniques
  • Meditation
  • Yoga
  • tai chi

For my health and my sanity, I have to get back to my yoga practice. For those that may want to give yoga a try for the first time, this is a good Yoga 101 article from Lululemon Athletica. I love this poster with stories and inspirations from their community.

Yoga Inspirations

Even though I've been trying the past three weeks to get myself to class on Mondays and Fridays, something has gotten in the way every single time! I've even been tearing the daily practice pages out of my Yoga Journal magazines each month and putting them in sheet protectors in a cute three ring binder to try to motivate me. But, I STILL have not been able to make myself find the time to do it at home.

Just last week, I made a little time to sit down and read my February issue of Yoga Journal and that's where I learned about this 21 Day Challenge from Yoga Journal. There's also an excellent article in this issue called Get Back on the Mat, that's worth the read, if you're like me and have gotten away from your practice.

Yoga Journal 21 Day Challenge

Even though the challenge officially started on January 10th, you can start at any time. I signed up yesterday and received my Day One email this morning. So, after helping hubby with some computer stuff for about three hours this morning; once he finally left, I got my mat out of my car, took my laptop to my room upstairs, locked the door, lit a lavender incense, and did Day One of this challenge. Ahhhhhh…

I didn't know what to expect since I'd never watched any of their yoga videos, but I was pleasantly surprised! Day One was a 45-minute Fun Flow vinyasa sequence taught by Elise Lorimer.

Extended Side Angle Pose

Extended Side Angle Pose (Photo Credit: Yoga Journal)

This sequence was fun and also happened to contain a couple of my favorite poses, like Bound Side Angle. (To modify and bind this Side Angle pose, you just slip the one arm off the foot, wrap under your bent knee and wrap the other arm around behind your back and clasp hands together.) This pose always helps take the tension out of my back, as does extended triangle, which I added at the end of the video.

Extended Triangle

Extended Triangle (Photo credit: Yoga Journal)

With this Challenge, you'll receive a daily email which has a link to each day's instructional video; a tip to help your practice; and a delicious, healthy recipe. You'll also find a link to the Challenge website, where you can listen to meditation and pranayama (yogic breathing) exercises, plus lessons on yoga philosophy. There's also a community chat page.

Another thing that's nice about this Challenge is that you can pick and choose which sequence you want to do, if for some reason you don't have time to do the one for that day. There are 15 minute, 20 minute, and 30 minute sequences to choose from, depending on how much time you have. The key is to do something EVERY DAY, even if it's just for 10-15 minutes.

While on the mat, I added a couple more of my favorite poses.


Camel Pose

Camel Pose (Photo Credit: Yoga Journal)

and Plow.

Plow Pose

Plow Pose (Photo Credit: Yoga Journal)

And, after just an hour, I feel noticeably better so I'm glad that I finally “Got Back on the Mat”!

I think this is just what I needed to kick my fanny into gear! I'm hoping that this Challenge kick starts me into doing a daily yoga practice even if there are days when I only have 15 minutes instead of an hour. Just a few poses and some deep breathing can do wonders for stress.


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