When you find yourself in the midst of chaos or feeling triggered, anxious, short-tempered or reactive, these go-to poses can help you stay calm, centered, grounded and even compassionate.
Go Upside Down
Inversions have a way of changing your perspective. Anytime your hips are above your heart and your feet are above your hips, it changes your body’s relationship to gravity and your mind’s outlook on a situation. Inversions also provide tremendous benefit to the cardiovascular, lymphatic, nervous, and endocrine systems.
Setu Bandha (Supported Bridge Pose)
Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. Press your feet down and lift your hips. Place the block at any height under your sacrum above your tailbone. Soften your abdomen. Relax your neck, throat, jaw, eyes, and forehead. Hold for 20 deep, long, smooth breaths.
Viparita Kirani (Legs Up the Wall)
Sit on the very edge of your bolster or stack of blankets with the wall to your right or left. Lean back on to the bolster while pushing your hand into the wall to turn your torso and bring your legs up the wall. Lift your hips and adjust the bolster or blankets so you feel even. It’s not important to have the back of your thighs against the wall, but bring your legs close enough to the wall so that you are not hanging out in your knee joint. Stay for 10-15 minutes. Bonus: place an eye pillow over your eyes!
Salamba Sarvangasa (Shoulder Stand)
Practicing shoulder stand safely requires some skill and guidance. Check out this video by Lillah Schwartz on how to position yourself for a stable shoulder stand using blankets to protect your cervical spine.
Stand on One Leg
Balance poses require tremendous focus. If your mind is distracted while attempting a balance pose, you may soon find yourself falling on the floor! They are also quite grounding since the foundation of the pose is what keeps you steady and stable. Try practicing balance poses and watch your scattered, distracted mind become clear and focused.
Vrksasana (Tree Pose)
From Mountain pose, bend one knee and take it out to the side. Place the bottom of your foot on your ankle, calf, or thigh (but not on your knee! Your knee joint is not stable enough to withstand the pressure). Bring your hands together in front of your heart or overhead. Hold for 5-7 breaths on each side.
Breathing is the quickest way to access your parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system. Aim to lengthen your inhalations and exhalations while making each breath smooth and steady, rather than jagged and rigid.
Ujjayi (Ocean Breath)
Say “haaa” as if you are fogging a mirror. Now, try this with your mouth closed. Once you get the hang of it, try this on both the exhalation and the inhalation. Slow your breath. Make your breath long, smooth and steady.
Nadi Shodhana (Alternate Nostril Breathing)
This pose balances the left and right hemispheres of your brain and body, while slowing the breath and creating calm. Using the thumb, pinky and ring finger on your right hand, slide your fingers down the bridge of your nose just below the bone. Close your right nostril with your thumb while inhaling through your left nostril. Close your left nostril and exhale through your right nostril. Inhale through your right nostril, then close your right nostril while exhaling through your left nostril. This is one cycle. Repeat for 5-10 cycles. Take care to keep your chest lifted and your head straight rather than leaning towards the right.
If you find that you are still irritated after practicing these poses, try another approach. Go for a walk, talk to a friend, do something that brings you joy. Calming your mind does not just benefit your body, it benefits all those whom you interact with!