Paschimottanasana ~ Seated Forward bend

T'is the season for.....stress!!! For a lot of people anyway. Hopefully you aren't one of those people that feel stress before the holiday season, but if you're like a lot of people your social life has amped up to an uncomfortable level, you aren't eating quite right, time is not on your side and money is tight.Yoga is a great stress relief. While on the mat you put your body through some stressful situations and learn to relax your mind through it. You take that lesson off your mat every time you calm your mind and deepen your breath when faced with stress.There are a few poses that are particularly good for stress relief and over the next couple of weeks I'll post about them. To get us started, here's some information on Paschimottanasana, or seated forward bend.Image from: come into paschimottanasana, sit flat on the floor with the legs stretched in front of you. If this in and of itself makes you uncomfortable, you can sit up on a block or a folded blanket or towel. Extend the spine long as you lift the arms up along side the ears. Keeping the extension in the spine hinge at your hips to fold over the legs. Keep the head in line with the spine and fold only to the point where you meet resistance. A couple of tips to getting a deeper stretch in your hamstrings are to flex the feet (toes point straight up to the ceiling) and tilt your pelvis back away from you slightly. This will cause the back to keep a normal lordodic curve and will prevent you from overstretching in the ligaments in the back. Hold the position for at least 10 long breaths. If you have the time even longer. A couple of options are to really engage your breath deeply so that you feel the movement in the rib cage and abdomen as you inhale. This creates a bit of a pulse in the body so that you come slightly out of the pose on your inhalation and then deepen on your exhalation. As you stay in the pose you may also fold over a little deeper. Make sure you don't overdo it though. Remember this is about stress relief and pulling a hamstring will definitely add to your stress!Above all, for stress relief remember the most important tool in your bag - breathe! For a little more on that visit my previous post Running from Tigers!