Time to Chill
1. Basic relaxation pose
What you need: A comfortable surface, five folded blankets or two large couch cushions, four small pillows or blankets, an eye bag or face cloth and a light blanket for warmth.
Setup: Lie on a yoga mat or carpet. Stack your blankets or couch cushions on the floor, and place your lower legs on them so your shins are roughly parallel to the floor and the backs of your knees are supported. Place a small pillow behind you to support the tops of your shoulders, neck and head. If you wish, cover your eyes and body.
What to do: Settle into your props and imagine you are sinking into the floor. Feel the tension in your body begin to release, especially in your lower back. Take 5 to 10 long, slow, conscious breaths and then stop counting and become a silent observer of your breathing. Finally, simply lie there, deeply supported, deeply rested. To come out of this position, bend one knee, roll to your side and slowly sit up, pushing with your arms to help you get up.
2. Deepest relaxation pose
What you need: A soft surface (such as a bed or couch), two small pillows or folded towels, a large pillow or a rolled blanket, an eye bag or face cloth and a light blanket for warmth.
Setup: Lie down on your soft surface. Place a small pillow or folded towel under your head so it supports your neck all the way to the tops of your shoulders. Place a larger pillow or a rolled blanket under your knees and a smaller one under your ankles. You may want to cover up with a light blanket. Cover your eyes if you’d like as well.
What to do: Breathe with long, slow inhalations and exhalations for a few minutes, then gradually return to a more natural rhythm. Move your attention to your feet and begin to mentally ascend your body, relaxing bones, muscles and organs. When you get to your head, pay special attention to your jaw, scalp and the muscles around your eyes. Cultivate an attitude of gentle detachment from sounds, sensations and thoughts. To come out of the pose, bend your knees one at a time as you exhale and roll gently to your side. Pause there a minute or so before slowly sitting up using your hands and arms for support. This can be a good pose to do at night.
3. Legs up the wall pose
What you need: An empty wall, a small pillow or folded towel and an eye bag or face cloth.
Setup: Sit on a carpet or mat with your left shoulder toward the wall and your hips positioned 10 to 12 inches away. Roll onto your back as you simultaneously swing your legs up the wall. Keep your legs straight and your hips slightly away from the wall. You can place a small pillow or folded towel under your head. Let your arms relax comfortably at your sides. Cover your eyes if you like.
What to do: Consciously breathe taking long, slow breaths for a minute or two, then relax control of your breath and allow your own natural rhythm to resume. Draw your attention inward to the sensations of spontaneous breath, the heaviness of your body on the floor and the support of the wall as you relax completely. Rest here for up to 10 minutes. When you are ready to come out of the pose, exhale as you bend your knees and roll to one side. Sit up slowly using your arms for support, and wait a minute or so before resuming normal activities.
Contraindications: Not recommended during menstruation or pregnancy, or if you suffer from a hiatal hernia, elevated pressure in the eyes (glaucoma) or heart problems.
HOW TO TAKE A DEEP BREATH
Whether you’re sitting up or lying down, make sure your spine is in a long, supple line. Swallow, and release the tension in your throat and belly. Close your eyes and begin to inhale evenly through your nostrils. Focus completely on your inhalation, and make it long and slow. As your breath fills your lungs, let your chest lift and your rib cage expand; feel your shoulders widen. Don’t strain. At the end of the inhalation, reverse the process as you exhale evenly through your nose. Observe any changes in your body after this one long breath is complete. When you are ready, try again. Practice until you can do 5 to 10 long breaths with focused concentration.
TAKE A SEAT
When you’re uptight and pressed for time, this simple posture can offer you instant repose— even at your desk.
Sit upright in a comfortable chair, knees bent, feet on the floor and hands in your lap (you can lean your head against the chair back if it’s high enough). Close your eyes and begin to pay attention to your breath. Complete at least 5 long inhalations and exhalations, letting go of the tension in your jaw, shoulders and belly. Bring attention inward and allow all the noises you hear wash by you without reacting to them. Stay in the pose for at least 5 minutes. You can practice this exercise anywhere: in taxis, on airplanes, at your kitchen table or in front of your computer. Try it whenever you feel exhausted.