According to some studies, a daily yoga practice can boost our cortisol awakening response, which helps to improve stress resilience. Yoga has also been proven to decrease inflammation in the body and to boost self-healing qualities. Some people are naturally more resilient than others. However, we can cultivate resiliency by integrating some tools in our daily routine.
A regular practice of pranayamas (breathing techniques), mudras (yoga of the hands), and asanas (yoga postures) is a great way to implement yoga for resilience in your routine. In moments of weakness and vulnerability, yoga is a gentle approach to rekindle a healthy and strong connection between mind and body. Yoga facilitates the journey towards wellbeing.
A yogic approach requires dedication and a level of motivation to do the moves. When we are weak, it becomes more difficult to do these exercises. If self-motivation is lacking at the moment, you may ask a friend or someone in your family to join you. Also, you may find classes in your area or online to provide motivation and clear assessment.
It is recommended to practice when we are feeling well. This way we are prepared for more difficult times when we need to use these tools. It is as when we prepare healthy food in advance and place it in the freezer for times when we don’t have time to cook.
The following yoga for resilience sequence are perfect to bring back balance into your life.
Sama Vrtti Pranayama (Box Breathing)
Anxiousness and intense stress affects our breath. Whether we breathe very slow and shallow or experience hyperventilation, some breathing techniques can help to balance our nervous system and enhance our vital energy.
The practice of box breathing on a regular basis calms our metabolism and builds resilience. When we become familiar with this pranayama we then can apply it directly in difficult times.
Sama Vrtti Pranayama means “same breath” and is also commonly referred to as Box Breathing. It’s a simple and basic form of conscious breathwork that’s oh-so-effective for relieving anxiety.
This form of Pranayama for anxiety is popular because it’s incredibly calming and easy to do.
Let’s try it:
Start in a comfortable seated position, sitting up tall.
Inhale through your nose for a slow count of four.
Hold the air in at the top for a breath (or a count of 1-2).
Exhale through your nose for a slow count of four.
Hold the air out at the bottom for a breath (or a count of 1-2).
Repeat the cycle for a full round of 10.
You can also increase the count from four to five, six or seven as you become more advanced.
Mudra (Yoga of the Hands)
The Pran Mudra, the mudra of “energy” or “life” is said to stimulate the root chakra, which creates vibration and heat. It also energizes and awakens the body.
The Pran Mudra is quite simple. Just join the tips of the little finger, ring finger, and the thumb together, with the other two fingers relaxed and positioned away from the joint. While practicing the Mudra, you should sit in a comfortable position in a relaxed and quiet space. Rest both the hands on your knees and then fold the fingers into the Mudra. Stay in the mudras for about 3 to 5 minutes. While practicing it, give slight attention to your breathing patterns and allow the soothing effects of refreshed energy to calm your body and mind.
Asanas (Yoga Postures)
Be attentive of any counter-indications such as injuries, high blood pressure or pregnancy before doing any of the suggested exercises. Listen to your body. We highly recommend to begin with a yoga instructor if you are at a beginner level.
Remain in the asanas for about 5 to 10 breaths.
Tadasana, mountain posture.
Standing straight finding a space of balance with your center of gravity. Root down with all four corners of your feet. Arms are relaxed by the side of your body. Standing tall with a straight spine, feeling an uplifting energy from the neck to the crown of the head and above. Feel the grounding energy and the connecting to the earth. Breathing deeply (ujahi breath) into the posture for two minutes.
AdhoMukhaSvanasana, downward facing dog.
Downward facing dog pose strengthens the core and improves circulation. It is thus a highly rejuvenating pose.
Set up on all fours with your hands about 3 inches ahead of your shoulders and shoulder-width apart. Inhale tuck your toes, and exhale press your hips back and up. Glance back at your feet to keep them hip-width apart. Maintain the hand and arm actions from all fours to open your shoulders without overextending or sinking through the armpits. Send your hips back and up, and try to ground your heels.
Virabhadrasana I, the posture of the warrior.
Standing with the front leg bend and the back leg extended. The back foot is at a 45degree angle, while the hips are facing forward. The front knee is right above the ankle. Straighten the arms above the head, lengthen the spice and feel an expansion in the thoracic cage.
Dandasana, seated posture.
Seated with the legs straight forward, the body straight and the spine elongated. Expand the arms above the head keeping a space between the shoulder blades.
Maryajasana, side twist seated posture.
From the seated posture, bend one knee and twist your body to the direction of the bended knee.
Savanna, corpse posture.
When doing yoga for resilience, this asana is also highly recommended. And it is so easy: Lie on your back and relax your entire body. You can also do a full body scan relaxing all the muscles consciously. Stay a minimum of 5 minutes in this posture and be aware of your breath, feeling the support from the earth beneath you. Simply let go and give your body and your sense some space.
The Five Elements
Yoga for resilience based on the five elements is an approach that integrates philosophy, ethics, pranayamas, and specific asana sequences for each element: earth, water, fire, air, aether.
Here is a link where you will find more information about my bi-weekly online classes. The yoga teacher training is a six-month program (2nd of July 2021 to 8th of January 2022) with live online teachings one weekend per month and with online classes two times a week.
Wishing you an insightful and pleasant experience.