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The Best Advice I Have to Give: Be Intentional With the Tension

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It is the best business advice I have to give these days. It is the best advice I have to give, PERIOD! “What would it be like to cut yourself some slack?” This isn’t about “self-care” habits. This is about the long haul. It is about you coming out of the other end of a marathon type season of life, work, relationships, and everything else. 

In a moment, our world changed. Putting it mildly, every component of how we live our lives and go about our days shifted. Like a deep dive into the polar ice caps, our systems were shocked. There are constant fields of proverbial minefields and unknowns stretched out before us. 

Because of all the craziness, I’d like you to do something with me. First, take a moment, pause, and put everything down. Lay down on a bed, the floor, a sofa, or on your back. Pause again. Allow yourself to get situated, settled into this moment. Take a long breath in through your nose, and push it out of your being through your mouth with the sound of “HA.” In the Yoga Therapy world we call that “falling out breath.” Repeat it a few more times.

“The nature of yoga is to shine the light of awareness into the darkest corners of the body.” – Jason Crandell

Have you felt tense lately? I’m going to ask you to bring more tension intentionally into your body. So here is what we are going to do. I’m going to tell you exactly what to do, then go get to it! 

Laying down, where you are, lift your arms above your head and lay them back down behind you. Stretch your legs out in front of you, Whole body is laying down. Notice the solid surface under your being. Take your time with this, and intentionally slow it down. At the same time you are going to do three things, make sure you also:

  1. Stretch your fingers out behind you by creating stretch in your arms. 
  2. Push through your feet as if you could touch the wall in front of you, which creates stretch in your legs.
  3. Inhale and hold your breath while holding your body in a full body stretch. Hold your breath along with your body’s position. 

There are two more things for you to do:

  1. Release the body and breath at the same time.  
  2. Repeat the whole thing 3-5 times.

There is so much tension in the air just as in life. For a moment, giving yourself this mindful space to intentionally bring tension into your body, control it, feel it, and then release it, releases it. 

If you can’t lie down, try this exercise with just your shoulders. You can do this sitting. What you are going to do is this, raise your shoulders up to your ears as you take a breath in. Hold the breath in as you hold your shoulders up by your ears. When you are ready, exhale with a push/force and release your shoulders. They are called shoulder shrugs. 

We all need things to do to release the tensions we are feeling, and these two exercises work amazingly. Don’t just take my word for it, here is some feedback from a client of mine, “On business trips I have encountered great stress with deadlines to deliver creative solutions (part of my work is analysis). Elle taught me a stretch I could do in any hotel room, lying full length on the bed. It worked – when the stress grew, I stretched – creativity regained space in my mind and the solution was delivered.” He is talking about the full body stretch.

“To make the right choices in life, you have to get in touch with your soul. To do this, you need to experience solitude, which most people are afraid of, because in the silence you hear the truth and know the solutions.” – Deepak Chopra

Take the time. Be intentional. Stretch your body while intentionally bringing tension into your body, your shoulders, hold your breath, and release. 

Once you try these exercises, let us know what you think about them in the comments below!

Elle Miller is a trauma-informed C-IAYT yoga therapist and Body Advocate working to bring transformation into the workplace. Her speciality is  finding spaces that shift anxiety and burn out, zoom fatigue and disconnection. She created The Listening Project as a means to show  how subversive the very act of learning how to listen can become. Connect with her at Elle@LivingMangaliso.com to schedule your personal session or to find out more about our corporate offerings.

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