With classes shifting online during Covid-19 lockdowns, teachers’ mental health took a toll as they hit their limit in dealing with their work’s daily challenges along with household chores. If you are a teacher who has been dealing with poorly managed emotional and interpersonal job stress amid Covid-19 lockdowns, we have 5 stress-relief Yoga asana for you to keep burnouts at bay.
Several studies suggest that practicing Yoga and mindfulness has specific benefits for teachers as it gives them an outlet for the daily stresses and frustrations of teaching. It keeps them centered, helps them to stay calm during chaotic moments and also aides them in understanding and reflecting on both their mindset and that of their students to avoid burnouts.
In an interview with HT Lifestyle, Yoga and Ayurveda lifestyle specialist and founder of Yoganama, Namita Piparaiya, revealed that Balasana (Child Pose), Vrikshasana (Tree Pose), Pavanmuktasana (Wind Relieving Pose), Viparita Karani (Legs up the wall pose) and Ardha Ek Pada Rajakapotasana (Half Pigeon Pose) are 5 stress-relief Yoga poses to prevent teacher burnout.
1. Balasana (Child Pose)
Method: Sit on your heels on the floor or a yoga mat and keep your knees either together or wide apart. Slowly, exhale and bend forward to touch the floor with your forehead or rest it on a block or two stacked fists while keeping your arms alongside your body and palms facing up.
Alternatively, you can keep your palms facing down on the mat by reaching out your arms towards the front of the yoga mat. Now, if your knees are together, gently press your chest on the thighs or press your chest between the thighs if the knees are apart.
Relax the shoulders, jaw and eyes and find a comfortable place for the forehead as there is an energy point at its center, in between the eyebrows, that supports a “rest and digest” response by stimulating the vagus nerve. Hold onto the pose for as long as you like and pull your navel towards your spine while inhaling and softening your body and the arms while exhaling. Return to the sitting position on the heels slowly while inhaling and as if uncurling the spine.
Benefits: This beginner’s Yoga pose not only helps to reduce stress and anxiety by helps releasing the tension in the chest, back and shoulders but also helps if you have a bout of dizziness or fatigue during the day or during your workout. It can help relieve back pain as it is a gentle stretch for the back, hips, thighs and ankles.
Precautions: This exercise is not recommended for pregnant women or those suffering from diarrhea or knee injury.
2. Vrikshasana (Tree Pose):
Method: Balance yourself on one leg, with the other one folded and supported on your inner thigh. Stretch out your hands above your head and point them directly upwards.
Clasp them together in anjali mudra. Gaze in the distance, shift the weight to your left leg while keeping the right knee bent in half lotus position and hold onto this posture for a few seconds before releasing and repeating the same with the alternate leg.
Benefits: This asana helps to bring balance to your mind and body. It makes your legs stronger and is a great hip opener as assists it the body in establishing pelvic stability and strengthens the bones of the hips and legs.
The shift of the entire body’s weight to each leg strengthens the ligaments and tendon of the feet. It also helps strengthen the thighs, calves and ankles and and helps improve focus.
Precautions: This asana should be avoided by those who suffer from vertigo or migraine or insomnia issues.
3. Pavanmuktasana (Wind Relieving Pose):
Method: Lie on your back and straighten up your legs o 90 degrees. Now, bend both knees to bring your thighs into your abdomen while keeping your knees and ankles together.
Wrap your arms around your legs and clasp your hands together or take hold of your elbows. Lift up your neck and tuck in your chin towards your chest or bring it onto your knees.
Hold this pose for 20 seconds if you are a beginner and then gradually increase for up to 1 minute. You can also keep your head on the floor if it is more comfortable or do the pose with one leg in at a time.
Benefits: It promotes digestion and relieves constipation, strengthens abdominal muscles, massages the intestines and other abdominal organs, tones the arm, leg, and buttocks, reduces belly fat, aids weight loss and strengthens the back.
4. Viparita Karani (Legs up the wall pose):
Method: Lie straight on your back. Join both the legs and lift them up. Take the legs slightly behind to lift your lower back. Support the back by placing the palms on the lower back with elbows on the ground. Keep the legs perpendicular to the floor and your back inclined at an angle of 45-60 degrees with the floor. Breathe normally. Begin with 1-minute and then slowly increase the duration of practice to 10 minutes.
Benefits: This asana enables quicker movement of water from the small intestine to the larger intestine, which cleanses the stomach. It is also a great practice to stimulate the hormone system and strengthen the core. It allows you to completely relax your mind and body and helps to cool it down while refreshing the circulatory system.
5. Ardha Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Half Pigeon Pose):
Method: From downward dog pose of Yoga, bring your left leg forward, crossover it and sit on your left thigh with the heel of your left foot touching your right hip. Exhale and bend forward while extending your hands at the front with the chest resting on your left thigh.
Inhale and stretching back your right hand, lift your torso and bend your right leg to bring the right foot in towards the torso and hook the right foot in the right elbow. Rollback your shoulders away from the ears and place your the left arm on your left knee.
Gaze in front and focus on a point while holding the pose. Stay in this posture for a few minutes before releasing the position.
Benefits: This pose is an effective hip opener exercise which also stimulates the internal organs, stretches deep glutes, groins and psoas which is a long muscle on the side of human body’s vertebral column and pelvis. Apart from helping with urinary disorders, this Yoga asana relieves impinged piriformis and alleviates sciatic pain.
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