Life can be a challenge and our bodies often respond with that sensation we call “anxiety.” The breath shortens because the torso muscles are drawing in toward center. The belly is tighter for the same reason. There is a sensation in the abdomen similar to excitement but we aren’t the least bit excited about what is happening. These physical responses are due to an increase of adrenaline in the body.
There are simple, nurturing yoga techniques that reduce these physical sensations quickly. Using them calms the mind, emotions, and body and can allow us to think more clearly so that we deal with what is at hand more effectively. Here are a few simple things anyone can do.
1. Slow breathing with movement: Sit in a desk or dining room chair with your feet and knees hip width apart. Let your arms and hands rest comfortably on your legs, with your hands palms up. Inhale slowly to the count of 4 while opening your hands to a gentle, wide stretch. Pause briefly then exhale slowly to a count of 4 while folding your hands into your palms, thumbs inside the fingers. Pause briefly and repeat up to 10 times.
2. Thump your Thymus: Sit in the chair in the same position. Form a soft fist with your right hand and bring your fist to the breast bone – that flat bone in the middle of your upper chest. Use the flat of your fingers (not the knuckles) and rapidly thump that bone while you count to 10 about 3 times. You can vocalize the sound “ah” if you like to be sure you are creating a soft vibration. The thump is firm yet gentle. This creates a vibration that flows into the thymus gland, which is directly behind that bone. When we are under stress, the thymus secretes hormones to keep us in balance. It can become fatigued and this practice increases the flow of blood to the gland and restores its ability to help us.
3. Legs up the wall (without a wall): Recline in front of the chair with your heels resting on the seat of the chair. Add a pillow for comfort. If possible place a folded blanket under your hips to raise the hips above the back of your heart. Turn palms up with your arms slightly away from your body. Close your eyes and breathe slowly and softly for 5 – 10 minutes. Setting a timer allows you to relax more deeply rather than having to watch a clock. When complete, slowly bring your legs down and turn onto your right side for 3 breaths. This calms the adrenal glands and brings more blood to the thymus glad and, of course, the brain.
You can do all 3 of these together for a restful, restorative yoga practice in under 15 minutes! Please give yourself this blessing and you do not have to wait for anxiety to hit! Doing this throughout your week can diminish the response before it becomes full blown!