4 Practices for Calming the Body and Mind

There is no getting around it. Stress is a part of life. Some stress is good, like getting a new job or the birth of a baby. As a yoga teacher, I see the impact of stress. Stress is not always a bad thing but when the body is in a constant state of stress, it can lead to chronic tension patterns held in the body that can be very uncomfortable. We also know that ongoing stress can lead to disease. The body does not lie and one day it presents it’s bill.

I am a practical person. I look for tools to help me cope with life’s hurdles. I learned about the Relaxations Response from one of my yoga teachers. I try to use it regularly in my life – it functions like a check-list for me and it entails being mindful. According to Dr. Herbert Benson of the Mind Body Medical Institute and the author of the book, The Relaxation Response, there are four things that you can do to facilitate relaxation.

Here’s what we need to bring on relaxation when we begin to feel stressed and overwhelmed:

1. A quiet, peaceful environment. Discover this for yourself. Maybe it is going out into nature, or creating your own sacred relaxation zone at home.

2. A mental focusing tool. Minds like to be active. A focusing tool could take the form of breath, a candle, music, a phrase or a mantra. I like to say quietly to myself, Just This. Try it – as you inhale, say quietly to yourself the word, Just. As you exhale, say quietly to yourself the word, This. If we take care of each moment, we take care of all time.

3. A passive, easy-going attitude. This can be tricky – sometimes we stress out about how well we are meditating, or how often we meditate or if we even meditate at all! There is value in the act of practicing self- care (whatever that is for you). Adopt the attitude, I am doing my best! Let go of perfection and practice being kind to yourself.

4. Comfort. It is challenging to bring about relaxation if we are hungry, if our environment is too hot or too cold or if our body is in an uncomfortable position. Tune in and do what you can to create comfort for yourself.
As much as you can, create the conditions for relaxation in your life. Try practicing these elements once or twice a day for 10 minutes to enhance your sense of well-being.

Need assistance? I teach private yoga sessions at Helix. I will compassionately listen to your needs and together we can craft a session to meet your goal(s). A session could explore yoga philosophy, relaxing breathing techniques, restorative yoga postures, slow, mindful movement or how to set up your own healing practice at home.

You can also join me for a group yoga class at Helix, open to the public, on Thursday afternoon from 3-4 p.m. This class is accessible for all levels and will offer practices that will help bring about greater connection to self.

Looking forward to meeting you soon.

From the light in me, to the light in you…

By Lisa Mitchell, M. Ed

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