Boston-based psychiatrist and trauma researcher Bessel Van Der Kolk famously says "the body keeps the score."
If you're a human in a body, you're probably painfully aware of the ways in which stress might get stuck in your shoulders, tension hangs out in your jaw, or anxiety unsettles your stomach.
These six quick tips from studio BE faculty member Rachel Meyer can help unravel those mental and physical knots.
- Lean back into Supta Baddha Konasana or Supta Virasana with a bolster or pillow behind your heart. Many of us carry stress or tension in our shoulders, constricting or hunching forward. Lie back in either Reclined Bound Angle or Reclining Hero pose, placing a large pillow or bolster behind your heart. Rest in this gentle heart-opener for several minutes, arms flung wide, to help slow your breath, ground your body, and release tension in your chest and shoulders.
- Take three big Lion’s Breaths. Sit in any comfortable seat. Inhale through your nose with your eyes closed. Exhale loudly, sticking out your tongue, bugging out your eyes, and stretching your mouth as wide as you can. Be fierce like a Lion! Imagine you’re exhaling any stress or tension that’s stuck in your body. Repeat three times, or whenever you’re feeling stressed.
- Roll on a tennis ball. Stand against a wall (or lie on the floor), and place a tennis ball behind your back, near your shoulder blades. Move in small circles as you use the ball to self-massage away any knots you might be holding there. Make sure to massage both shoulder blades. You can also use the tennis ball to roll out your forearms, calves, or quads.
- Practice Legs Up The Wall. Shimmy your body up to a wall, with your hips touching the baseboard. Extend your legs 90 degrees up the wall, so as you look up, you’re looking at your feet. This is the yoga pose known as Viparita Karani. Relax your legs, let your arms fall wide open or hands rest on your belly. Feel free to close your eyes and stay in this anxiety-calming position for 5-10 minutes. Gently release by hugging your knees to your chest and rolling to one side.
- Take a 15-minute Zumba break to get out of your head and loosen up your body. Join in a live or on-demand Zumba “brain break” with Andreina or Adriana. Even a few minutes of dancing to great music can make everything feel better. You just can’t help but smile.
- Massage your temples and jaw. Use the pads of your fingers to gently massage your temples and the muscles around your jaw. Taking even a few minutes to do this with your eyes closed between Zoom calls can offer a mini-massage to release tension headaches.
Guest post by studio BE Vice President Rachel Meyer
Rachel Meyer is an American writer and yoga teacher based in Switzerland. She draws from her roots in musical theater, theology, and the arts to teach a wholehearted, vigorous vinyasa. Rachel teaches at B.Yoga Basel and the Braswell Arts Center and serves as Vice President of Business Development (Europe) for studio BE. Her work has appeared in The Washington Post, On Being, Yoga Journal, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Yoga International, Parents, HuffPost, and more. Prior to moving to Basel, Rachel taught for a decade in premier studios in San Francisco, CA; Portland, OR; and Boston, MA.
Learn more at www.rachelmeyeryoga.com or on social media @rachelmeyeryoga.
Feature image by Andrey Popov/Adobe Stock