Gentle Yoga for Stress Relief by Cyndi Roberts
WEEK 2: External Stressors
This week, we use the list created last week and look for external stressors.
External stressors are life situations and circumstances that are happening or have happened to you. These events occur either completely out of our control or come about as a result of working toward goals and accomplishments.
Some examples of external stressors may be:
These events come out of the blue, such as injury or illness, illness or death of a loved one, a new boss or co-worker, a reduction in pay or increased living expenses, problems with the house or car, uninvited houseguests or change in friendship or romantic relationship.
Major life changes
These can be positive or negative events, such as moving to a new home or losing a home, starting at a new job or losing a job, having a planned or unplanned pregnancy, new marriage, break-up or divorce, increase or decrease in pay, death or illness of a loved one.
Whether you are aware of it or not, your daily surroundings affect your stress level. Do your surroundings soothe or overstimulate? Are your rooms filled with bright lights and loud noises or are rooms quiet with soft lighting? Is the state of your environment messy or orderly? Clean or dirty? Notice how you respond to what is around you.
Each relationship we have has an affect on our level of stress. Most of us interact daily with family members, friends and co-workers. Take a look at which relationships can be considered external stressors. These are the relationships that leave you feeling drained or overwhelmed after an interaction. They could also include a disagreement with your partner or stress from a child’s behavior or being overly needy.
Routines and workload
Daily routines and a seemingly endless work load can be another source of stress. Living the same day over and over with little variation or constantly facing urgent deadlines and demands inevitably take a toll.
Human connection is essential to survival, but can sometimes be overwhelming or stress inducing. This is case when there is little experience interacting with others so the confidence level is low. Blind dates, parties, social gatherings or the pressure to post on social media to get a lot of “likes” are other examples.
“I am able to relax and be still.”
Even if you don’t believe this statement, keep silently repeating it and let this powerful, positive statement fill up the cells in the mind and body.
Affirmations are a powerful tool we use to change the emotional energy we are emitting. Emit peace, rather than stress and you will receive more peace.
Gradually, it will get easier to believe as you notice more moments of peace and ease in your life. It’s normal for distractions to come in as you practice. Gently guide the focus back to the mantra and begin again.
Find a quiet place with no distractions and have your journal nearby. Take a few deep breaths to settle in before you read the questions. When you are ready, contemplate the question below.
Take notes of your insights and reflections. Spend as much time here as you need and come back to the questions at another time, if you like. Try to listen to what the body is saying as well. Notice the breath, emotions and places of tension or ease.
Begin by taking a look the list you created last week:
Write down which ones are external stressors (referencing the above list) and again notice what and where you feel that stress in your body.
Also, write down if there are any old, repetitive thoughts or beliefs about those stressors.
Are there any stressors within your control to change?
For example, can you change something about an overstimulating environment? Can you limit time with a person who drains you? Is it possible to share or lighten your workload? Is there a way to stop feeling pressured to post on social media? Or change who you are in social situations to people please?
Is there any space for acceptance of what is?
Notice which situations are out of your control and find some space for acceptance of what is. Give yourself permission to be gentler. Write down ways you can practice kindness toward yourself. Also, remember that you are doing your best. Notice if there is any relief in both mind and body as you write.
How can you practice self care, both in your practice and in daily life this week?
Write down a few ways you can be gentle with yourself in your yoga practice. Write down some things you can add to your day for self care. For example: take five minutes to be still, breathe slow and repeat the mantra from this week, go for a walk, sit outside, watch the sunrise or sunset, get a manicure or pedicure, take a nap, read a book, watch something funny, take a bath, get a massage or body work, create something beautiful, create art or crafts, play a sport, exercise, practice more than once this week. And anything else that brings you relaxation and joy.
Opening The Hips – 90 Minutes
The hips, being two of the major joints in the body, are a storehouse for emotions. Women especially tend to store and stuff down shame, guilt and things left unsaid. The hips are our center of gravity and place of locomotion in the body. The hips connect upper body with lower.
Built up tension stored in the hips gets tighter over time and could create pain in the low back. The lower chakras may become unbalanced. Gentle and deep stretching of the hips, pelvis and low back allow for a release of that built-up energy and stress.
This practice gets deep into muscle and connective tissue with longer holds for a deeper letting go.
Three Part Breath
The three-part yogic breath, also known as Durga breath, helps us connect to the different parts of the lungs and to deepen our awareness of the breathing cycle. This full breath also strengthens and engages the entire capacity of the breath.
With each inhale, this expansive breath brings more oxygen into the lungs and bloodstream, improving circulation for all the cells of the body.
With each exhale, we release stagnation; toxins and pollution trapped in the lower lobes of the lungs. There is a cleansing and purifying effect that takes place with each breath as stress levels are reduced.