At Home Wellness Exercise
Amid so much uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic perhaps the most important thing you can do for your mental and physical health (outside of masking up and social distancing) is to regularly move your body. Physical activity is associated with dramatic reductions in anxiety and depression, as well as boosting immunity. Here’s the conundrum - at a time when physical activity is more important than ever, it also seems to be less accessible than ever. Many of our routines have been interrupted as fitness studios have closed and we continue to juggle working from home and homing from work.
At NOW Yoga, we get it and that’s why we make it easy to bring the studio into your home with daily live streaming classes. And the great thing about yoga is that you do not need any equipment and it is super accessible to all body types and levels of ability.
But if you are like me and are just looking for a quick fix to get your body moving and reduce stress - check out these quick and accessible movement and breathing exercises.
1. Sun Salutations: help to build cleansing heat and destress the body + mind. Here’s how: Come to a standing position with feet hip distance apart, keep a slight bend in your knees (do not lock them out). Take a big inhale and extend both arms overhead. Exhale, bend at the waist for a forward fold. Inhale, life your chest halfway, fingertips graze your shins. Lengthen through the spine. Exhale, bend your knees, plant both palms of the hands on the ground, shoulder distance apart and find a plank position (option for knees down for extra support). Engage the core, soften your jaw and feel cleansing heat rise in your body. Continue to breath and hold for 30 seconds (or more, you got this). Then exhale as you lower down slowly to your belly. Inhale find a cobra position - light weight through the palms. Exhale, tuck your toes, press up to plank position then lift your hips up and back for downward facing dog. Release through the neck. Step to the top of your mat. Inhale, reach your arms up to the sky and then exhale bring the palms of the hands together at your heart. Repeat all these steps 5-10 times and go at a pace that feels comfortable for you.
2. Ecstatic Dance: get some energy out while instantly lifting your mood. That’s right, put on your favorite song, turn up the volume and dance like nobody's watching. Move in anyway that feels intuitive to you and have fun! You will build cleansing heat while increasing those feel good chemicals (hello serotonin) in the brain - perfect for reducing stress and giving yourself a quick energy boost.
3. Alternate Nostril Breath: Calms the central nervous system to reduce anxiety and stress. Take the peace fingers of your dominant hand and place them to space between your eyes (your third eye center). You will use your thumb to block off one nostril and your ring finger to block off the other nostril. Okay, before you begin take a big cleansing breath in and out through both nostrils. Close the right nostril, inhale through the left nostril for a slow count of 1 - 2 - 3 - 4. Hold both nostrils shut for a slow count of 1 - 2 - 3 - 4 Exhale out the right nostril for a slow count of 1 - 2 - 3 - 4. Inhale through the right nostril for 1 - 2- 3- 4. Hold both nostrils shut for 1- 2 - 3 - 4. Exhale out the left for 1 - 2- 3- 4. That was one full round continuing from left nostril to right for at least 3 minutes (set a timer before you begin). When you are done take a big cleansing breath in and out through both nostrils and notice how you feel.
These are just a few simple ways to get moving and there are certainly many others out there. The most important thing is that you get moving - in any way that is sustainable for you. And however you choose to move your body, move with purpose and find a routine that best serves you.
Keep going. You are doing great. You got this!
Augusta Fishman & Melissa Mackey