Tag Archives: relaxation

How Yoga Can Help with Relaxation and Strength Building

It’s obvious that yoga helps you with many aspects of your life which includes: mentally, spiritually, emotionally, and physically. While in any given pose, you allow your body to relax at a cellular level while strengthening your body. The mind-body practice of yoga is designed to bring together your body, mind, and spirit through physical poses, breathing and relaxation. It can help you reduce stress that might cause the body harm by lowering blood pressure or your heart rate.

Poses range from super easy to advanced so anyone can do it. Yoga has been highly regarded as a way of complementing health programs like addiction, strength building, or reducing anxiety. Letting go of the things that serve you no purpose is something that yoga promotes by the sheer act of doing it. When you practice daily, you automatically manage whatever stress or anxiety you have with little effort.

Relaxing Through Yoga

Relaxing through yogaIt’s important to maintain a relaxed frame of mind and body. You’ve probably experienced the tightness in your shoulders which can lead to headaches or chronic pain. You may suffer from tight hips and a sore back as well. These pains are manifestations of the emotions that you’re holding onto. Those tight hips may be from sitting constantly but they are also due to emotions, which include anxiety. So, Pigeon Pose, which is a deep hip stretching pose, can help you release anxiety from the body as you release tension from your hips.

There are so many examples of this in yoga poses but just as important is your breathing. When you breathe in mindfully to your body, you begin to relax everything from your muscles to your mind. “Ujjayi” or “Breath of Fire” when done alone can quickly release anxiety from your body and give you extra energy as well. Controlling how you breathe throughout your yoga practice will help you quiet your min, preventing the onset of stressful thoughts.

Yoga comes in many forms and styles with one of the most common types in the West being Hatha yoga. It’s especially good for stress management with poses that support releasing everything. You can do the poses slowly with poses that are easy for beginners.

These serious of movements are not only designed to relax you but also increase your strength and flexibility simultaneously. There are poses where you can lie on the floor that are easily done or you can use difficult balancing and stretching poses that challenge your boundaries.

During your yoga, you can incorporate relaxation or meditation which is where you’re mindful of all the details going on in your presence. While you’re in a pose, if you focus on the feeling in your body, you’ll be able to adjust and challenge yourself. It’s also empowering to get out of your own head for awhile and focus on the present.

Yoga has been proven to reduce stress and anxiety through many studies since the 1970’s. Yoga can help people through clinical depression and anxiety as well as more serious problems. Yoga is a complimentary part of most addiction and behavioral problems today due to how well it works. You know that feeling when you leave a yoga class? That blissful, relaxing feeling. All you have to do is commit to the poses and let it ease stress and allow total relaxation to spill over you.

Yoga for Strength

Yoga for strengthYoga can be just as effective as lifting weights to help you achieve the tone and strength you’re looking for. As it engages your core often, you will get the added benefit of having strength where it matters most. Yoga helps you avoid injuries when you’re doing other sporting activities on top of promoting strength and this sequence can help you achieve that.

You will gain flexibility, a better range of motion, and improve your balance. Yoga doesn’t let you neglect any of your muscles like you might when you body build. You get an overall, functional strength which can help you excel at many other physical activities in your life.

When you hold onto poses for a longer period, you increase your muscular endurance. Everyday you do yoga, you can eradicate pain from the day and reduce muscle soreness. When you do yoga after lifting heavy weights for example, you allow your muscles, joints, and bones the ability to repair and grow.

Adding the practice of yoga into your strength training program promotes wellness of the body when you’re hard on it. When you move through poses, you promote fluid to go to the joints so bones will glide over each other without rubbing. The fluid also gives nutrients and oxygen to cartilage.

Yoga gives you strength in a slow, progressive fashion that makes it far less likely for you to get injured. As you begin to hold poses for longer and take it to the next level, you are slowly adding the building blocks to gain a lot of strength in a safe way.

The power of yoga is its power to promote a healthy lifestyle in all aspects of your being. You can be at your best physical shape while learning how to be a more relaxed person. You become an all-around athlete and are kinder to yourself in the process. Bring yoga into your life for all the wonderful benefits it provides.

Meera WattsMeera Watts is a yoga teacher, entrepreneur and mom. Her writing on yoga and holistic health has appeared in Elephant Journal, Yoganonymous, OMtimes and others.

She’s also the founder and owner of Siddhi Yoga International.

I ♥ Thai Yoga Massage

"ShenZhen FongTin" by WiNG - Own work at Wikimedia Commons

“ShenZhen FongTin” by WiNG – Own work at Wikimedia Commons

The first time I went to Hong Kong to study Kung Fu I spent a few weeks out there with my martial arts instructor and a few fellow senior students. We would spend our days learning and practicing and occasionally, as a treat for all the hardwork we would be accompanied across the border at Shenzhen for an overnight stay at the local massage parlour.

I guess the place was the equivalent of one of our Spas and, although it looked a bit dodgy to me, it was in fact respectable. At least the part where female clients were being treated and accommodated for the night…

It was here that I had my first experience of Thai Yoga Massage. Although not strictly the traditional version and not carried out by Thai masseuses it was bloody good and completely different from the other styles of massage I had experienced up to that point. Despite our communication challenges being of monumental proportions through a lot of gesticulating (comes natural to me) we managed to ask for a 2 hour treatment.

Even now that I have been a qualified Thai Yoga Massage practitioner for some time I am still amazed at how skilled these girls were in the art of throwing clients around the room while taking them through amazing stretches. All this action was of course occasionally interrupted by gently, gently, softly, softly working of the soft tissues but it didn’t last long and I was soon being bashed all over the place… all over the place!

When I woke up the next day I felt like a completely different person and I was in love with the treatment. Because the girls took my body through a whole sequence of deep stretches, every single joint in my skeleton was duly lubricated and able to experience its full range of motion. Not only that, a lot of the emotional tension I was carrying with me everywhere at the time was gone. Suddenly I was a bit more ninja like in my kung fu moves too as I was generally more relaxed and therefore able to move quicker.

We went there again towards the end of our stay and after some sightseeing around Beijing and Foshan to retrace the steps of the forefathers and mothers of Wing Chun Kung Fu. This time I was determined to find out just how much I could put up with and booked a 3 hr treatment. My female travel companion at the time opted for a kinder Japanese style treatment which lasted just about an hour which meant that her masseuse was over and done with by the time I was getting warmed up and ready to go. It was at that point that I really should have kept my big mouth shut but no, I had to ask in really awful Chinese, why they had bars on the ceiling. I sealed my fate. After lots of gesticulating and giggling the two masseuses teamed up, giggled some more, flipped me over the bed as if I was a pancake, pushed my face through a hole, giggled even more and then grabbed a towel each.

What happened next will never be erased from my mind. Ever. They took turns in flipping the towels over the rails, levitated on top of the bed and after grabbing the towels they proceeded to jump up and down my back digging their big toes in between each vertebrae until they popped. Unfortunately not all of them wanted to pop straight away but I was too much in shock to do or say anything about it and I just remember hearing my travel companion laughing like crazy while I was mumbling something along to lines of “pop you mother*****r, just pop!”. I am not sure what happened during the rest of my treatment, I think I passed out… but I must have been flipped again on my back because I woke up in the morning face up. I was terrified that my spine was in no fit state to carry me around all day but, surprise, for the first time in some time I was able to bend and twist like a pretzel and again I felt very lighthearted and zen like. Magic!

It was at that point that I decided to learn more about Thai Yoga Massage and have since discovered that there are two broad styles of treatment: the Northern (what I do) and the Southern (which they did) with the former believed to be more dynamic but less brutal. It took me ages to find somewhere to learn in the UK but eventually I did and was privileged to be able to learn from one of the best teachers in the Country on an almost one-to-one basis (there were two of us in the course).

A lot of people who approached me in the past have asked me what the treatment consists of and how it relates to other similar styles of energy based treatments. I did some research as part of my diploma and have briefly compared Thai Massage with Reiki and Acupuncture. You can read my ramblings here.

I love doing the treatments and I love spending some extraordinarily quality time with my lovely clients, but sometimes I wonder if I got this whole thing backwards and whether I should have tricked my other half to learn it so I could have been the guinea pig!