I live in a relatively small town in a tiny suburb in the Midwest. Although I can walk to some of the shops and restaurants here in town, there really isn’t much to offer. Because of that, I have to use my car a little bit more than I would prefer.
My car is an older model. In fact, it’s slightly older than my teenage son. But it’s in wonderful condition because I take really good care of it. It is always tuned up, the fluids are always at proper levels, the tires always contain the proper amount of air, I keep the filters cleaned, it always contains high quality fuel and I make sure to warm it up properly before I use it. Because I take such good care of my car, it has always been very reliable and I can trust that it will get me where I need to go.
Now, imagine that I didn’t do all of those things to my car. What if I never allowed my mechanic to peek under the hood? What if I ignored warning lights and sounds and just kept on driving? What if I chose to save a few bucks rather than updating filters and fluids? Very likely, my car would overheat or break down and I would be in trouble.
Our bodies work the same way. We must always make sure that we fuel them properly, replace the fluids that are lost, care for the muscles and stay away from bad habits that could hurt us. But it’s equally important that we allow our bodies to rest and relax. While food is fuel for the body, relaxation is fuel for the body, mind and soul.
Recently, I discovered that I was “on the go” way too much. Besides my duties as wife and mother and responsibilities around the home, I have a job, do the writing and research for this blog, and I write at another blog as well. Life can get pretty hectic sometimes, especially if I don’t recharge my batteries.
When we don’t give ourselves permission to rest our minds, spirits and bodies, the results can be a disaster. All of that stress builds up and at some point, usually when you least expect it or would least like it to occur, it blows. Just like a car will overheat and stop you in your tracks, your body can do the same thing.
I recently started engaging in yoga relaxation techniques that have been very beneficial to me. Not only do I find them useful for mental stress relief, but I have found them to be useful in relaxing different muscles in the body. This has helped my posture, my general disposition and my sleep patterns. This is something you could do with your kids or even your grandparents. And I only need 20 minutes a day.
One of the things I like to do is create what is called a “breathing bed”. This is done by simply folding a blanket so that it’s 8 inches wide and longer than my body. I then take another blanket and fold it about 3 times so that my head rests firmly on it and my chin is not higher than my forehead. Usually, I have another blanket handy because when you get into a relaxed state, your body temperature tends to drop and it’s difficult to relax when you’re cold!
Once I am comfortable, I just begin to breathe consciously. I picture each breath being drawn in through my nose and I very slowly allow the breaths to leave my body. It’s important that the breathing stay slow and rhythmic and I imagine the outgoing breaths circling over my body, revitalizing me with energy.
One of the things that I have learned is to surround myself with a glowing white light. My yoga practice has taught me that this helps you to protect yourself from that feeling of being pulled in many directions and being drained of your energy.
If you have back issues, you can roll some blankets to place under your knees. You can also bend your knees and spread your feet just wider than the width of your body. Lean your knees in and this will help to relieve any lower back tension.
Another great tension relieving pose is called “child pose”. You sit on your knees and fold your body forward, touching the floor with your forehead. Your arms can drape around your sides. If touching the floor with your head is too uncomfortable, you can put your arms out in front and rest your head on your fists. This helps to relieve all of my muscles that tend to “carry” my stress.
Discovering yoga has been life changing for me. Not only does it contribute to a body that is toned and flexible, but it helps you to get to know your body, relieve stress and become more energetic than you ever thought possible.
There are many yoga classes, DVD’s and books on the market right now. I encourage you to try one and see the difference!