Simply soothe stress away
When I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed I find it tough to relax my racing mind. That’s when I find I need something more physical to get me out of my head and into my body before I can settle into a breathing or relaxation practice. Yoga posture practice is an ideal solution. But there's a little knowledge that can supercharge the stress busting effect of your yoga postures that you can use in your every day movements and posture too.
Allow me to introduce you to your suboccipital muscles.
It's all about balance
These muscles wrap around the base of your skull. They’re under layers of other muscles, so you can’t feel them with your fingers. Each muscle is full of nerve endings that help you to sense where you are in relation to gravity – called proprioceptors. They sense where you are and send signals through your nervous system for adjustments to keep you balanced.
You need instant action to stop you from falling over so when these muscles are active, they set off your stress response. They’re connected to your neck position, your whole spine and tension in your eyes, jaw and shoulders.
Are you beginning to see how stress is a whole body thing?
Here’s how to calm your suboccipital muscles and soothe away layers of stress...
Feel the support of the ground and rest into gravity. It’s easiest when you’re lying down (that’s why classes usually start lying down), but you can get that feeling in any position.
Draw your chin in so your neck is long and your head is balanced on the top of your spine. Particularly notice when you're using a computer, tablet or smartphone.
Relax your eyes. Focus your eyes far away or let them go out of focus. Place your palms over your eyes and softly hummmmmmm.
Relax your shoulders. Move and stretch them so tension doesn't get stuck.
Relax your jaw. Wobble it round in a circle and from side to side. Massage gently just in front of your ears.
In bridge posture, focus on your knees moving a little out towards your toes to increase the space where your spine meets your skull.
Use the energy blend breathing, keeping your shoulders, eyes and jaw soft.