This is based on the note for the workshops I ran each morning at the 2022 Annual Conference of the Association of Lawyers for Children

Reducing stress: A super informal, super simple yoga style session.    

Are you by any chance feeling stressed?!

And does that show first with your restless anxious mind: Looking for answers? Looking for problems? Exaggerating problems? Overthinking? The racing mind?

And then also, in your body with shallow breathing and a tensely held body?

If so, the crucial and unobvious secret is this: that stressed body feeds back to the mind. And worse, it makes you more anxious and more sensitive to stress. So it all becomes a vicious circle or a loop that can make you feel trapped.

You can try and work on this through counselling – talking and thinking. 

And you can see that body work like yoga is also valuable: By undoing those physical stress symptoms we can reduce the level of emotional distress; escaping the trap.

First address shallow breathing: Upper chest breathing. With throat half closed.

Answer: Open the throat. Pretend to steam up a  mirror as you breathe out. Yawn. Sigh.

Then breath in – first to the belly. Then to the chest: stand or sit up taller, stronger, more confident. Then again, the long slow open throat out-breath. Shoulders go down. Relaxed.  Strong and relaxed. Great combination.

Secondly the tense body:  The stress in the body is held in the joints, muscles and also in the fascia – a subject that Pilates and other disciplines have long known about, but which is now becoming more mainstream.

Fascia is the network of fibres under the skin, over the muscles and around the organs which we are beginning to understand is highly significant. And when the body is held in stressful tension, then the fibres can become unhealthily rigid and entangled.

And that can generate complications including emotional ones and inflammation throughout the body which has serious implications especially with autoimmune problems.

Stretching the fascia therefore has huge benefits, far beyond simply improving flexibility. It may well be the secret of the fact that Yoga is more than just a physical routine but has significant emotional – they would say spiritual – benefits.

Yoga can be in a paid-for class with others, all following the same routine, often with a degree of self-consciousness.  Or it can be at home, private, free, a flexible series of exercises listening to what your body needs at that moment. 

I do my very simple Breathing, Stretching and Bending exercises each morning before breakfast and maybe it is a form of yoga you could take home and do every morning?

It is just standing poses. No mat required. No special clothing. No elaborate or difficult poses. Just Breathing, Stretching and Bending. And therefore reduced stress.

Elements of my simple routine are below. It’s not a set routine – it’s pick and mix for what my body needs that day.   

Breathing, Stretching and Bending – the essence of Yoga. Standing poses that you may actually do regularly.

David Jockelson