Find yourself feeling stressed and anxious on a daily basis? It’s time to take a step back and make one with the mat. Yogi Kate Kendall of Flow Athletic shares her favourite poses to get you in the zen zone faster than you can say Namaste.
“Physically, yoga releases residual tension from the muscles and, with the right style, can release the connective tissue which encases the whole body,” says Kate. “When we feel open, tension-free and ‘comfortable’ in the body, we feel more confident. Mentally, yoga stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system which makes way for what I call a ‘yoga stone’ after class where you feel physically relaxed yet mentally sharp.”
“Yoga is my medicine. I got into it when I wasn’t in a great place mentally and it really has had a lasting and hugely positive effect on every aspect of my life. It’s not just the shapes I make on the mat, it’s the way of life that it teaches, it’s philosophies and the way your attitude to everything around you ‘softens’. It just means I don’t sweat the small stuff anymore.”
Add these five moves to your next yoga sequence:
Supta Badokanasana (Reclined Butterfly)
Encourages full, open chest and belly breathing which makes for an uber calm nervous system. Also beautiful for opening hips and groin area.
How to: Lie down and bend the knees so that the soles of feet are together and knees drop out wide. Arms stay by side or lift them above head to grab elbows gently.
This is a great place to practice Ujjayi breathing which helps introduce the breath right down into the lower lobes of the lungs, which in essence, gives us that ‘Yoga Stone’ mentioned above. It also releases tension in the lower back, quads, inner thighs and chest.
How to: From a kneeling posture, take knees out to the side and stretch arms out in front. Relax forehead, arms and hands to group and soften shoulders.
Any seated twist is pure nectar for the spine, back and internal organs. By releasing tension from along the spine and back muscles, it makes posture and standing tall, carefree and confident more natural. The twisting action, coupled with long exhalations stimulates the digestive system which only promotes ‘feel good’ vibes.
Strengthen the legs and gets blood pumping to all of your organs as we as opens up into the side waist (excellent for digestion as well as expanding breath capacity).
How to: Stand with feet to the side, right foot facing forward, left toes turned in 45degrees. Line up front heel with back arch and lunge deeply into the right leg so that right knee and ankle are in line. Taking arms out shoulder height, flip the right palm up, place left hand on back of left leg and inhale your right hand up and back. Breath deeply.
The art of doing nothing – this is the ultimate pose in ‘surrender’. Granted being still is not always easy, it is, however, ideal for stress relief. Spend a good ten minute lying on your back in silence. You can then take the essence of this posture into everything you do.
Photography: Chen Ryan, Squeeze Creative