Now that summer’s over, stress has its way of creeping up on us. Let’s face it, whether you’re in the academic world as a teacher or student or work year-round, the summer is almost always a more laid-back time in D.C. Once fall hits, not only are our bodies shocked by dropping temperatures and shorter days, but our mental and emotional selves are taxed by travel, grading, mounting deadlines and juggling all the things we do outside of work.
Amidst all this we manage to brush our teeth and wash our hands—you know, basic hygienic practice—so why don’t we prioritize stress hygiene in the same kind of routine way?
Today, I challenge you to take 5 minutes to come into one restorative yoga pose as a way to unwind, reset and recharge the body and mind. You can do this anywhere—office, gym, home, wherever! Hopefully, you’ll feel so good after doing so that you’ll make it a habit—just 5 minutes of quiet, eyes-closed stillness each day can make a world of difference when all that mental and emotional clutter starts to creep in.
Stress Hygiene 101: Reclining Butterfly Pose
- Come to a reclining position with your back flat against the floor, a mat or perhaps a blanket.
- Draw the soles of feet to touch, knees fan open.
- Close the eyes and bring one hand to your heart, one hand to your belly.
- Scan the body for any tension, drawing your awareness from the toes to the fingertips to the crown of your head and everywhere in between. Let the body feel wholly and completely relaxed.
- Stay here and breathe for 5 minutes, focusing on breath and any sensations that arise in the physical, mental and emotional body.
- When you’re ready to get up, gently draw the knees together and hug into a tight little ball. Slowly rise up to a seat and enjoy the rest of your day or evening, with a little less stress in tow.
Note: if you have any discomfort in the knees, groin or lower back, place a pillow or rolled up blanket under each knee for additional support.
I love doing this pose at the beginning of my Yoga for Athletes classes on Wednesday mornings at 6am at Yoga Heights. It’s a great way to settle in and zone out before moving the body more rigorously. It can be a great way to transition from the go-go pace of our everyday lives into a more mindful practice like yoga.