Bringing calm to a busy mind

The mind has a tendency to disconnect from the body and create worry.  Do you feel overwhelmed as you make a mental to-do list for tomorrow, next week or for the year while your mind races from one thought to the next?

I’ve had a million-miles-an-hour mind these past few weeks.   This has its perks, but when those thoughts start to become destructive, it’s hard to stop the snowball effect.  Thankfully, yoga has taught me to pause and be still.  I appreciate those golden moments when I am moving fluidly, aware only of the flow of my own breath.   Through focused movement, breathing, and meditation, our minds are encouraged to calm and to connect with our bodies and the present moment.

Remember, yoga is more than just a fitness program. A true yoga practice transcends the physicality of movement and restores mental calm.

I’ve learnt that energy tied up in worry is not available to make wise productive choices.  You can harness and use your mind’s fascination with the future by envisioning the future you want, rather than the future you fear.

I’ve had to remind myself, especially these past few weeks, to fill my mind with images of a desired future and use my mind to plan the steps to achieve that future…    Creating a blueprint upon which my partner and I can make purposeful and enjoyable choices today that can influence desired outcomes tomorrow.

I find it remarkable how just by doing a few yoga poses and staying in them for a few minutes; stretching your spine; opening your lungs; expanding your chest and breathing more deeply can help to clear all that constant, overwhelming clatter going on in your head.

To summarise, my friends, slow down your breathing, fill the mind with positive thoughts, be more mindful of the present and don’t waste energy on worrying about what could go wrong.    This is one of my mantra’s for the year, perhaps for life, as it’s already helping to bring calm to my busy mind.

Here are a few of many great poses to relieve anxiety and worry:

Legs up the wall pose:

  • Place your buttocks as close as possible to the wall.
  •  Relax your arms by your side with your palms facing up.
  •  Close your eyes or use an eye pad (scented is great). Clear your mind by focusing on your  breath.
  •  Take deep breaths here: 5 counts to inhale, 5 counts to exhale.  Allow yourself to release tension here as you hold this pose for as long as you like.  Your heart rate typically slows down immediately here.

Tips: If it’s hard to keep your back on the floor with your legs raised, use a bolster under hips to help elevate them.  You can also put on some relaxing music or nature sounds.

Child’s pose:

  • You can have your knees together or spread in a V-shape.
  • Reach your arms up and stretch forward as far as you can.
  • Soften, release, let go and close your eyes. Release your head, arms, neck, shoulders, back and, of course, your thoughts.
  • Allow your body to melt into the mat; try not to hold tension in your muscles. Allow yourself to melt deeper with each deep breath. Find peacefulness in this pose.

child's pose

Cat & Cow poses:

  • Come onto all fours with your hands below shoulders and your knees below your hip bones, keeping your back straight in a neutral position.
  • Inhale, drop your belly, draw your shoulder blades together and peel open your chest, lifting your gaze to find Cow Pose.  Exhale, press against your palms, round into your back body as you draw your shoulder blades apart from each other, gazing toward your navel to find Cat Pose.  Continue these movements following your breath.
  • Move slowly to feel the movement of each vertebra of your spine.

This is such a relaxing and releasing combination of postures if done properly. Keep your eyes closed to focus on connecting each movement to your breath.

Standing Forward Bend

This is a very beneficial pose that can be used at anytime, as no mat is required.  It gives you energy and releases tension.

  • Stand with your feet either together or hip-distance apart.
  • Keep an elongated spine as you raise your arms overhead and then hinge from your hips as you fold forward reaching down toward your toes.
  • You may just let everything go, release tension in the enck and hang like a rag doll or hold opposite elbows with opposite hands.
  • Feel the heaviness release from your shoulders, upper back, and head (the places that we tend to keep most of our tension).
  • Close your eyes and take deep breaths, letting go of any thoughts, and hold for as long as you like.
  • Note:  You can bend your knees and place your hands wherever is most comfortable for you.  The aim is not to touch your toes, but trust me, with frequent practice, you will become more flexible 😉

Savasana (Corpse pose)

This may be the easiest to do physically, but the most difficult for the mind and spirit to master.

  • Lie down on your mat with your arms by your side, palms up, legs relaxed, with feet turning toward the sides of your mat.
  • You may use a pillow under your knees to support your lower back if you feel tension there.
  • Close your eyes, release any tension in your face, back and every part of your body.
  • Practice deep breathing in and out until you feel very relaxed.

Tips: The best way to determine if you are relaxed and not holding tension is to tighten or clench your entire body, hold for a moment, and then release.

If any disruptive thought enters, remind yourself that this is not the time to dwell on it. You will return to it later.

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