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Add yoga to your routine to help reduce stress

A few other ideas: Take a 15-minute timeout, and have some laughs.
Ruben Vasquez of St. Petersburg demonstrates a yoga pose, legs up the wall, at the health club in the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club.
Ruben Vasquez of St. Petersburg demonstrates a yoga pose, legs up the wall, at the health club in the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times ]
Published Dec. 24, 2019

The holidays are full of great joy but they also are full of a flurry of activity and, yes, even stressful moments. Stress is a common experience for many people, as research tells us that 70 percent of adults feel stress or anxiety daily. And it has been proved that holidays can be some of the most stressful times of the year. Here are a few suggestions for some happy stress-busters.

Exercise is one of the best ways to combat stress, but to reap its many benefits you need to commit to it regularly, not just in a hit-or-miss fashion. It lowers your stress hormones, such as cortisol, and helps release endorphins, the “feel-good guys” that improve your mood. While you may find yourself very busy this time of the year, this is not the season to forgo your exercise routine. It may seem a little odd, but putting physical stress on your body through exercise reduces mental stress. And workouts can boost your mood for up to 12 hours.

Another way to help combat those stressful feelings is gentle muscle stretching through relaxing yoga postures. Yoga is a mind-body practice that has many different styles and many different intensities. Hatha yoga is particularly good for stress management, and beginners might enjoy its easier and slower pace. Controlling your breathing is important in yoga, as it helps you to quiet your mind and to live in the moment.

Here are a few other quick stress-busters: Take a 15-minute daily timeout to be alone, without any distractions. And allow yourself to have some laughter in your life. Laughing relaxes the whole body as it decreases stress hormones and triggers endorphins, those feel-good guys. Muscles remain relaxed for 45 minutes after a good hearty laugh. And don’t abandon healthy habits over the holidays. Indulgence adds to your stress, but you shouldn’t deny yourself an occasional treat.

Ruben Vasquez of St. Petersburg demonstrates a yoga pose, legs up the wall, at the health club at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club.
Ruben Vasquez of St. Petersburg demonstrates a yoga pose, legs up the wall, at the health club at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times ]

Your move | Demonstrated by Ruben Vasquez

These yoga calming stretches should help to reduce anxiety and stress. Hold postures for a few rounds of comfortable breathing.

Legs up the wall pose: Stretches hamstrings and relieves lower back tension.

Place your hips as close to the wall as possible. You may want to have a pillow under your head and a folded towel or pillow under your lower back.

Start walking your feet up the wall until your heels are resting on the wall. Your feet will be flexed.

Allow your arms to rest by your sides, palms facing up.

Close your eyes and do some relaxed breathing for five to 10 minutes.

Tip: The closer your hips are to the wall, the more stretch you’ll feel in the hamstrings.

Ruben Vasquez of St. Petersburg demonstrates a yoga pose, the supine spinal twist, at the health club at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club.
Ruben Vasquez of St. Petersburg demonstrates a yoga pose, the supine spinal twist, at the health club at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times ]
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Supine spinal twist pose: Stretches the glutes, chest, sides of torso and obliques.

Bend your knees with feet on the floor while your arms extend to the sides at shoulder height. Your feet should be slightly wider than your hips.

Keeping your shoulders flat on the floor, slowly lower your hips to the right side, moving the left thigh slightly away from the bottom thigh to enhance the lengthening action.

Extending your left arm on the floor by your shoulder will add more of a stretch.

To add a chest stretch, while dropping your hips to the right, turn your head toward your left shoulder.

Relax into the posture, taking several deep inhales and slower exhales.

Return your body to the center and repeat, dropping your knees to the left side.

Ruben Vasquez of St. Petersburg demonstrates a yoga pose, the standing side bend, at the health club at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club.
Ruben Vasquez of St. Petersburg demonstrates a yoga pose, the standing side bend, at the health club at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times ]

Standing side bend: Improves flexibility in the spine by releasing tension in the mid-torso and back.

Standing in a comfortable position, put your hands together with your elbows slightly bent in front of your chest.

Shift your weight to the left leg and lightly grip the floor with your toes.

Bend your right knee slightly to engage the surrounding muscles.

With a slight bend of your torso to the left, inhale while lengthening the right side into a stretch from the waist to under the arm.

Pressing your shoulders down, exhale while opening your arms out to the sides.

Ruben Vasquez of St. Petersburg demonstrates relaxation with bolster at the health club at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club.
Ruben Vasquez of St. Petersburg demonstrates relaxation with bolster at the health club at the Vinoy Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club. [ DOUGLAS R. CLIFFORD | Tampa Bay Times ]

Relaxation with bolster: Relieves muscle tension in the lower back, neck and knees.

If you do not have a bolster, use an overstuffed pillow.

Place a bolster under your back and a bolster under knees.

Extend relaxed arms out to the sides, palms facing upward.

Be sure your lower back is on the bolster.

With a towel over your eyes, take a deep breath and slowly exhale, letting all the muscles relax and your thoughts just come and go.

Enjoy five to 10 minutes of relaxation breathing.