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When You Feel: Like You Need a Break
Try: The symmetrical stretch, or “mountain pose.” This pose is the basis for all other yoga poses — it creates the foundation that we build upon. Begin by standing with your feet hip-distance apart and toes pointing forward. Feel your feet and press them into the floor. Gently squeeze your kneecaps up, being mindful not to lock your knees. Pull your navel in toward your spine, and roll your shoulders back and down. Gently lift the crown of your head up and slightly tuck your chin. Finish by lifting your arms over your head, palms facing each other. Take a full, deep breath in and a long breath out. Notice how the sides of your body expand with the inhalation.
Also, get up from your chair periodically! Not only does it invigorate your body and help you feel good, it also helps release muscle tension and gives you an extra boost of energy that can result in better concentration and more high-quality work.
When You Feel: Off Balanced
Try: A common yoga pose that can be adapted to all skill levels, and help you feel more balanced, is the tree pose. Start by standing at the back of a chair or near a desk or counter on which you can easily rest your hands. Gently shift your weight onto your left leg, firmly rooting your foot into the ground. Next, lift your right foot and move your heel to your left ankle, leaving the right toes on the floor. Your hips should be parallel to the chair or counter. Once you feel centered, move your right foot to rest on the inside of your shin (toes off the floor) or up to the inside of your standing thigh.
When You Feel: Stressed
Try: While there are a whole bunch of things that can cause stress, there is one simple way to combat all of them -- focus on your breath. Simply take a deep inhale that expands your belly and then press the breath out using your lower abdominal muscles. This will trigger your parasympathetic nervous system and calm your body down.
As you’ve probably experienced, stress can cause tightness in the neck and shoulders. As you become overloaded with stress, the muscles in your neck and shoulders begin to contract or shorten, causing that weight-of-the-world-on-your-shoulders feeling. Counteract this natural response by doing a few neck and shoulder rolls. Slowly move the shoulders up, back, down, and around while being aware of a comfortable range of motion. Move the neck gently from side to side followed by a forward-and-back stretch, while avoiding strain. Combine these movements with a deep, conscious breath and you have the recipe for immediate stress relief.