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6 Yoga Experts Reveal How to De-Stress Instantly

We polled dedicated yogis and yoga teachers to find out what keeps them sane when the stress comes on.

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These days, tools for de-stressing have become posh: we see our co-workers sneaking off into corners to meditate, our kids clutching stress-balls before exams. And despite the fact that we as a society have become aware of the debilitating nature of stress, physically, mentally, and even on a cellular level, we don’t often think about how multi-faceted the process of de-stressing can be. The truth is, there’s no one way to fight it. Stress is different for all of us, and in our moments of deep need we’ll do just about anything. Looking for advice on the best place to start? We asked six experts in the art of staying calm what helps them de-stress in the heat of the moment. Here’s what they said.

Brandi Ryans, massage therapist and yoga teacher based in New York City

Deep breathing, legs up the wall, and sandalwood oil on my neck.

Russell Case, director of the Ashtanga yoga program at Stanford University

Relax your tongue and stare at a point. Immediately without even thinking your next breath will be huge. This creates what’s called pratyhara—the sense that your organs are attached to your mind’s objects—they’re not, and in that breath, they will become disentangled. Craving and aversion will slip away, you will be neither bothered by rain nor light. This is euphoria.

Lily Stroud, yoga teacher based in New York City

Lying on the floor. It’s grounding and you break the cycle of trying to always be doing something. Just stretch and breathe for a moment.

Iana Velez, editor-in-chief of NY Yoga+Life Magazine based in New York City

Music. Music is a huge part of my life, and the quickest way for me to shift my mood by covering external noise, distracting myself. Music allows me to re-focus my attention quickly. Once my attention has been shifted away from the “stressor” I can then shift to a neutral state, or if I am lucky a positive state. From that point on I can start breathing exercises to complete the shift to relaxation. Right now I’m listening to: “Genesis” by Grimes, and “Half the Perfect World” by Madeleine Peyroux.

Allie Mazur, director of growth operations at Exubrancy, an office wellness company based in New York City

A big, cheesy smile: I’ve been told that sometimes when your sad if you force yourself to smile it can actually help to make you feel a bit better by triggering the serotonin sensors in your brain (because they associate smiling with happiness of course!). For me, same goes for when I’m stressed! I put on a big, cheesy, even forced smile, take a few deep breaths, and approach anyone or anything that I encounter with positive energy. It works wonders!

Maria Macsay, yoga teacher based in New York City

A deep slow belly breath. Works every time!

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  • Have you ever noticed that spas tend to smell of flowers such as lavender and ylang ylang? Studies show that these scents increase calmness, which is right for that setting. If you were to look for an essential oil that had the opposite effect—one that made you more energized and alert—choose peppermint. This distinct odor has the opposite effect of soothing essential oils, although it’s still a pleasant scent. Peppermint can even enhance your memory. #energyboost #boostenergy #essentialoils #memorybooster #naturalhealth #naturalremedies
  • If you find it hard to concentrate, try this practice from @alive.awake.empowered at least once a day: Count breathing cycles. Inhale, exhale, one. Inhale, exhale, two. Inhale, exhale, three. And so on.

You may be able to get only as far as two or three at first. But with practice, you will improve, and so will your ability to concentrate. Do what you can, and when a thought interrupts, go back to one.

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  • Yoga is a therapeutic practice at all levels—physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. When used appropriately, it has the power to heal, balancing each of the above aspects and bringing them into harmony with each other. Even for healthy practitioners, yoga is therapeutic, working to strengthen and refine all aspects of their system.

Although we can treat the symptoms of disease or injury in many different ways, healing is a process that comes from within. It happens as a result of the system’s innate intelligence, but this process can be adversely affected when we are out of balance. The aim of yoga and yoga therapy is to support the natural process of healing by bringing us back into balance on all levels.

Click the link in our bio to learn more about yoga as therapy from @andrew.hillam. 
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  • Use the power of your breath to warm up naturally! Take a deep breath, but rather than consciously exhaling and pushing the air out, just sort of “let it go." Take 10 breaths like this in a row, trying to go a little bit deeper with each successive inhale, but putting no force behind your exhalation. After your tenth breath, take in one more deep breath, and this time hold it in. Engage the muscles in your chest, back, and shoulders, as if you were using them to give the air inside your lungs a firm hug. You may notice a warm, tingling sensation inside your chest.
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