Five ways to calm and clarity
One of the best things about my job, is the variety of work. I never get bored because every day is different. Even if it’s the same weekly class, there’s always something fresh happening and I never teach the exact same class twice, plans are always tailored to the individuals in the room at any given class. Plus I often get the opportunity to teach in other environments that you may not necessarily associate with yoga.
Saturday was just one of those occasions! I was invited to teach at a workshop for choral societies and singers, asked to give tips on staying calm and focussed in the face of perfomance nerves, and to give some techniques for releasing neck and shoulder tension, encouraging full use of lungs. I did the same workshop last year, so it was great to be asked back! I really enjoy working with this crowd, even though they are not yogis they are open minded, enthusiastic and always take part.
I left them with my 5 top tips for calm and clarity, which you can find below :
1. Shake it out Learn from the animal kingdom and release tension and excess adrenaline, by shaking out your limbs and hips. Hold onto something is balance is a challenge. If your back is OK, try moving into a forward bend and having a gentle shake through your hips, shoulders and arms, to let go of even more tension. 2. Move your feet to feel grounded and find your centre Start with the feet at hip width apart, knees just off lock, low abdominal muscles and pelvic floor drawn in, shoulders relaxed. Close your eyes if you feel you can. Keeping the feet flat all the way through these moves, allow your weight to move into your toes, and then back into your heels, without knocking yourself off balance.
Still with your eyes closed if you can, now work a circle round the feet….right toes, outside edge right foot, right heel, left heel, outside edge left foot, left toes. Circle a couple more times in that direction before circling anti-clockwise. Feel as if you are moving from the ankles, not the shoulders, try not to lift the toes.
These moves are very soothing for the central nervous system. 3. Diagonal stretch to open the ribcage From either sitting or standing, bring your hands into a palm pressed position, thumbs on the sternum. Inhale, as you extend 1 hand up towards the sky and the other hand towards the earth, flex the wrists a little as if you are gently pushing floor and ceiling. Make sure it is your spine and rib cage that is lengthening and expanding, not your shoulders that are pushing. Exhale as you bring your palms back to the centre (bend your knees at this point if you are standing). Inhale as you repeat the stretch in the opposite direction (straightening the knees if they were previously bent). Repeat a few times on each diagonal.
Feel your chest opening in all directions and your diaphragm working properly.
4. Balance the hemispheres of the mind, to bring calm and clarity Sitting comfortably, become aware of your natural breathing rhythm for a few breaths. Now, as you inhale imagine the breath entering the left nostril, and as you exhale imagine it leaving the right nostril. Now breathe in through the right and out through the left, this is one complete round. Repeat as many times as you want up to 10 rounds.
Practiced regularly this will bring balance to the mind and emotions, and will help you feel calmer and more in control. 5. Bring yourself into the here and now by withdrawing your senses Sit comfortably. Let your breathing settle. Now focus on all the parts of your body that are connected to the chair or earth….then focus on how your clothing feels…. and then all the parts of the body not touching clothing, how does the atmosphere feel against your skin?
Listen now to the sounds outside the room you are in….Bring your awareness to the sounds within the room….and finally to the sounds your own body makes.
Become aware of the sense of smell, without judgement, what can you smell.
Focus on the sense of taste, can you taste the last thing you ate or drank? Can you taste the atmosphere on your lips.
Observe now the natural flow of your breath. You are not trying to alter or control the breath, just be aware…follow the path of breath into your nose, body, lungs and out again.
Come out when you are ready. Wake the body up by taking a deeper breath in and out, then easing your body out of the sitting posture. Tap your scalp and face if you are feeling a little drowsy
Let me know how you get on with these, and if you’re involved with a group that you think might benefit from some yoga techniques give me a shout, I’m full of ideas! Ix