Exams are just around the corner. Chances are even reading that made you feel anxious – butterflies in the tummy, muscles tensed, heart racing.
And it feels no better when you sit down to actually revise. Nearly half of Australian students say they feel tense when they study. This stress leads to not being able to sleep, stomach aches, and aches and pains all over your body. Prolonged stress may be harmful to our mental and physical health.
Luckily yoga is available.
Yoga can help you keep the stress under control, help you relax and help you clear your mind.
Here are a few simple ways to help slow down your heart rate (which reduces the stress hormone in your body) and let you focus on your study or the exam questions.
This is the name for deep breathing exercises that are great for settling and focusing the mind. At its simplest, it’s taking deep slow breaths in through your nose, and out through your mouth. Focus on the act of you breathing while you do it – even a few minutes can help you unwind.
A specific practice for balancing your attention is simply alternate nostril breathing.
Make a gentle fist, then take your thumb and place it lightly on your right nostril, place your pinky finger over your left nostril. Lifting your pinky finger, exhale through the left nostril then inhale, lift the thumb, replace the pinky finger and exhale through the right nostril.Inhale though the right, replace your thumb, lift the pinky and exhale through the left. Repeat for up to 5 minutes.
This breath balances your Yin and Yang energies, aligns the left and right sides of the brain and leaves you with a sense of calm and focus.
We sit too much, particularly during study sessions. The simple standing mountain pose will not only help reduce any pain in your back from sitting too long, butit also helps centre your body and focus your mind. It will leave you feeling calm and empowered.
Another great pose for stretching after sitting at your desk is downward dog. It’s an all over stretch – especially fantastic for your hamstrings, shoulders, calves,arches, hands and spine.
Your brain needs a good flow of blood to deliver the oxygen and vital nutrients it needs. Having your head down below your heart like in this yoga pose improves circulation to your brain. That will help calm your nervous system, improve your memory and concentration, and can give relief from headaches, insomnia, fatigue and mild depression.
Child’s pose is a resting pose. Simple to do and very effective, it slows the breath and calms the mind to reduce stress and help you focus better.It’s effective physically as well – it opens your hips and relieves strain in your back.
These are just a few of the ways yoga can help you deal with the stress of exams.
When you’re stressed, take a few minutes for yourself, find a quiet corner and use these to bring your mind under control.
Start practicing these poses today so they become an automatic way to deal with your stress, now and in the future.
Good luck and namaste!