Unless you are incredibly lucky and have an indoor pool at home or a lake in your back garden, you will be unable to swim at the moment. And while it is necessary, it is also hard. Swimming can act as an outlet for pent up emotions, a de-stressor or simply mean time away from our hectic lives on dry land. Kat Pither, founder of Yogi Bare, says yoga can provide similar benefits, and here she suggest three simple yoga practices to help manage stress and anxiety.
How to manage stress and anxiety through yoga practices
At first thought you wouldn’t put yoga and swimming in the same boat, but the mental and physical benefits cross paths more than you would think. Yoga can help improve balance, alignment and breathing for swimmers. For example stretching your muscles and joints can earn you greater control over your body’s movements; a stronger, more powerful stroke perhaps?
As for the mental boost we get from swimming, this can be simulated through a yoga flow routine. A yoga flow is a series of movements that flow without stopping from one to the next, integrated with breathing in the change of each position or movement. This allows your mind to focus solely on one thing, similar to focusing on your breathing whilst swimming. It’s important to give your mind time out from over-consumption of content, multitasking and over-stimulation of your senses that would otherwise lead to a mental burn out, stress and anxiety. Swimming and yoga both allow your mind to do this.
Three easy yoga poses to reduce stress and anxiety
1. The Child’s Pose
The child’s pose brings calmness and contentment. By bringing your knees to your chest, similar to fetal position, the inherent psychology behind this position relaxes our minds.
Kneel comfortably on your yoga mat, reach your arms up and bring them forward until your head touches the floor in front of you, or as far as you can. Then take a deep breath in, release tension in all of your muscles and close your eyes upon exhale. Breath in and out for 10 seconds in this pose.
2. The Seated Forward Bend
This position can relieve tension in your head and stretch tight muscles in your back, caused by stress.
Sit upright on your mat with your legs stretched in front of you. Reach your arms up with a long spine and stretch your heart forward to your toes. Go as far as is possible for your body where you can feel a stretch but no pain. Practise breathing in this position for 10 seconds.
3. The Tree Pose
When anxiety builds up and your mind is racing, holding this stance helps you focus and discipline your mind to slow down your thoughts, and process them normally.
From standing, bear your weight onto one foot and slowly lift the other foot off of the ground.
Slowly turn the sole of your right foot toward the inside of your left leg. Place it on the outside of your left ankle, calf, or thigh, whichever is most comfortable. Bring your hands over your head and into a comfortable position, with your palms together at your chest. Hold this pose for up to 2 minutes, focusing on your breathing.
Integrate these poses into your yoga flow and you will finish feeling relaxed and calmer, just as if you’d gone for a swim!
Improve mental control with yoga
At the end of a yoga routine, you finish with ‘savasana’. This is a meditative portion of your yoga routine where you lie still on your back for a period of quiet meditation, a time where you are encouraged to control the impulses of your mind, to clean and refocus your energy. Traditionally the pre performing poses and postures were structured and organised into an order that allows your mind and body to prepare to reap the maximum benefits of the savasana that follows. If you’re a regular swimmer, this can help give you a clearer mindset, enabling you to take on more, build your ability and your strength for when you are able to return to swimming.
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About Yogi Bare
Kat Pither says: “Yogi Bare is the physical manifestation of the concept of yoga being for everybody and every body. I wanted to develop a range of eco sensitive products that are accessible and to bring some fun and personality to a world that can sometimes seem alien or difficult to access. The name isn’t just a fun play on words but the Bare is symbolic of the eco credentials and a sense of stripping back.
“Eco conscious ethics are embedded in the creation of Yogi Bare projects as well as my own personal journey as a yogi, teacher and student. My work has allowed me to meet and grow with some incredible brands who are focusing heavily on saving our planet, our home. At its core Yoga is about connection, connection to the planet by choosing more earth friendly materials and connection to who you are.
Our yoga collections are inspired by that self-expression in yoga, the journey of falling in love and accepting the things that make you individual.