5 Moves to Release Tension
By the end of the day, most of us are feeling tired – tired from a long day at work, tired from travelling, tired from chasing kids, tired from stress or depression. The reasons are endless! Taking 5-10 minutes at the end of a long day to perform this simple 5-step routine can make you feel more relaxed, help to ease headaches or tension, and prepare you for a better night’s sleep.
- Reflection and breathing. Take 1-2 minutes to lie on your back and close your eyes. First, use your hands to massage your neck and shoulders. Next, begin to pay attention to your breathing. Bring your hands to your rib cage and take a few slow and deep breaths in and out through the nose, feeling the rib cage expand as you breath in and shrink as your breath out. Throughout the day, we rarely focus on taking deep, relaxing breaths. We hardly pay attention to our breathing at all. Slowing down to take a few deep breaths can be incredibly beneficial, all on its own!
- Full-body stretch. Still lying down with the eyes closed, take another deep breath in through the nose as you reach your arms overhead in a “Y” shape and point your toes. At the top of your inhale, hold the breath for 2 seconds, then exhale through the mouth and release your arms back by your sides. Do this 2-3 more times. This stretch feels great and begins to release tension that may have built up in the body.
- Puppy Pose.
From your reclined position, roll to one side and push yourself up onto your hands and knees. Keeping the hips over the knees and the knees hip-width apart, walk your hands forward on the ground until you can lower your forehead to the floor. The arms are straight, your fingers are spread wide on the ground and the hands are shoulder-width apart. (If there is too much pressure on your arms or shoulders in this pose, bring one forearm to rest on the ground under the forehead and only extend one arm at a time. ) Take 3 big, slow breaths, lift the head and walk your hands a little to the right. Lower the forehead to the floor and take 3 more breaths. Finally, walk to hands back to center and then over to the left for 3 last breaths.
- Opposite arm and leg lift. Come back to your hands and knees. Your wrists should be under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Lift your left hand off the ground and reach forward. Then, slowly lift your right knee off the mat and point your right leg straight behind you. Keep the neck relaxed. Do not try to look forward. Hold this pose for 5 seconds, then lower your knee and hand back to the ground. Repeat with the right hand and left leg, before doing the pose 1-2 more times on each side.
- Passive Chest Opener. Place a firm pillow vertically on the ground. Lie down on your back, with the bottom of the pillow just above your sacrum. If the pillow is not long enough to support your head, place another pillow underneath your head. Let your arms rest by your sides. You want to feel an openness through the front of the body. The legs can be bent or straight. Stay here for 1-2 minutes. When you are ready to finish, roll to one side, remove the pillow and lie back down for a few breaths before finishing. If you want to stay a little longer, you can place the pillow under your thighs or knees and rest on your back for as long as you need!