The recent Fall Equinox marked the official transition from summer to fall. Fall is associated with change and transformation, and often, a heightened sense of anxiety. Beginning a new school year can feel stressful and de-stabilizing, and anxiety can quickly creep its way in.
Yoga is a practice that has physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual benefits and can bring a sense of connectedness and calm when anxiety threatens to take over. Practicing a few simple yoga poses and a short meditation can transform your day by helping you feel more present and grounded. These yoga postures link movement to breath to warm up the body and prevent feelings of restlessness or fidgeting during the meditation. This routine is perfect for new yogis and first-time meditators!
These poses can be done sitting in your bed before getting up for the day or seated on a cushion or pillow.
1. Simple seated pose (Sanskirt: Sukhasana)
Begin by sitting cross-legged with your palms facing downward on your knees. Take a moment here to bring some awareness to your body and your breath, without feeling like you need to change anything. Gently stretch your neck by drawing the right ear down to your right shoulder, come back up to center, and then reach the left ear towards the left shoulder. Slowly turn your head left and right, up and down, like saying "no" and "yes".
2. Seated side stretch (Sanskrit: Parsva Sukhasana)
Place your right palm on the ground and on an exhale, extend your left arm up overhead for a gentle side stretch. Inhale, come back to center. Place your left palm on the ground and exhale, reaching your right arm up over to the left. Inhale, come back to center.
3. Simple seated twist (Sanskrit: Parivrtta Sukhasana)
Reach both arms up overhead and on an exhale, take a gentle twist by turning over to your left side. Be careful not to "crank" your neck to feel the twist. Allow the twist to happen by rotating your torso instead. Rest your right hand on your left knee and reach your left hand behind you and let it rest. Stay here for a couple breaths, and on an exhale, release the twist. Do the same twist on your right side by reaching both arms up overhead on an inhale, and rotating over towards your right on an exhale. Slowly release the twist and come back to center.
4. Seated forward fold (Sanskrit: Utthita Sukhasana)
Inhale, reach the arms up once more and on an exhale, fold forward. Extend your arms out in front of you, resting them on the ground. If this puts a strain on your lower back, place a pillow or two underneath your arms for support. After staying here for a couple of breaths, press into your hands to slowly come back to a seated position.
5. Mindfulness Meditation
If you are new to meditating, I suggest setting a timer for five or 10 minutes to start. You can keep your eyes open or closed, whichever is more comfortable for you. Take a quick inventory and notice how you are feeling. Are you feeling any tension or anxiety, or noticing any thoughts racing? Make a conscious effort to notice these sensations and thoughts, without judging yourself. Each time you notice a new thought pop up, direct your attention back to your breath. Follow the breaths that come in and down your torso, and notice how the exhales come effortlessly. Focusing on the breath helps keep you rooted in the present moment, the here and now.