In your frenetic, fast-paced life, stress is inevitable. Too many commitments to family and friends, a lack of sleep, work demands and more may leave you too exhausted to exercise or so anxious and agitated, the last thing you want to do is head to a crowded gym.
Whether you need an energy boost or that peaceful easy feeling, this month's powerful two-in-one at-home yoga workout can help. "Depending on how you practice the routine, you can actually change the quality of your energy, and go from being tense to tranquil, or drained to revitalized," explains Rome, Ga.-based Leigh Crews, the National Academy of Sports Medicine-certified trainer and yoga instructor who created the program.
First, take our "Stress-Detector Test" below to find out which workout -- the energy-boosting or the energy-calming program, or both -- will benefit you most. Then, follow the prescribed program for improved energy levels and a more beautiful body. We can't get rid of what's causing your stress, but we can show you how to manage it.
Everyone reacts differently to the stressors in life -- which can take a toll on your mind and body. Perhaps you feel too agitated to exercise -- or maybe you get so tired that you turn to sugary snacks to perk you up. Or it could be that you repress these feelings and/or experience a combination of the two. Take this quick quiz to find out whether you need to calm down, get fired up -- or both!
Stress makes you feel
a. overly sensitive, panicked, scattered, crabby, short-tempered, impatient.
b. exhausted, apathetic, drained, emotionless, passionless and desperate for a nap.
c. too tired to concentrate but too tense to sleep or truly relax.
Stress makes you physically
a agitated, jittery, ill at ease.
b incapacitated. Any kind of activity, including taking a
walk, seems impossible.
c tense. You feel pain in your head, neck, shoulders
or spine; are short of breath; and may even feel your
heart palpitating or muscles twitching.
Your Energy Identity
If you answered A
to both questions, you are a high-strung stress reactor; you have excess energy to burn, so you need a vigorous workout of at least 20 minutes that will release tension and help sharpen your focus.
What to do
Begin with the Full Sun Breaths warm-up, then follow instructions for "The Energy-Boosting Routine," which alternates flowing and held postures. This will pump up your heart rate, increase your stamina and power your aerobic system so you can release pent-up tension and stress and feel more balanced. Finish with "The Energy-Calming Routine" to release any remaining agitation and, finally, end with the cool-down as instructed.
If you answered B
to both questions, you are a run-down stress reactor. When faced with too much pressure, you feel exhausted and don't have an ounce of energy left. You need to get revitalized at a slower, more progressive pace.
What to do
Rather than warming up with the Full Sun Breaths, begin with "The Energy-Calming Routine" and then do the Full Sun Breaths to gradually increase your energy. Next, assess whether you've perked up enough to move on to "The Energy-Boosting Routine" -- or, if you feel sufficiently energized, you can stop there and simply end with the cool-down as instructed.
If you answered C
to both questions -- or a combination of A, B or C -- you are a stressor-repressor; when you feel overwhelmed, you shut down and internalize your tension. You need a relaxing routine to help relieve stress.
What to do
Begin with the Full Sun Breaths warm-up: The repetitive activity along with regular inhalations and exhalations will give you the even-keeled energy you need. Then, do "The Energy-Calming Routine," which will continue to instill a feeling of serenity and grounding. End with the cool-down, staying in corpse pose and breathing for as long as it takes for your muscles to relax and your brain to quiet down.
workout overview "The Energy-Boosting Routine" gives your mind and body an aerobic boost as well as releases nervous energy or stress, while "The Energy-Calming Routine" produces a more relaxed energy. Use either one or both of these workouts as often during the week as you like to invigorate and/or soothe yourself. (Take the "Stress-Detector Test" each time to determine which routines will best meet your needs.)
warm-up Begin either routine with Full Sun Breaths, unless you're a run-down stress reactor (see the advice following the "Stress-Detector Test").
cool-down After you've completed one or both routines, relax in corpse pose: Lie on your back, letting feet fall open, arms relaxed at sides, palms up. Breathe deeply, inhaling and exhaling down into your belly, expanding and closing your rib cage with each breath. Stay here as long as you like. If you choose to do only "The Energy-Boosting Routine," complete 2 cycles of Full Sun Breaths very slowly to bring your heart rate down, then stand, eyes closed in mountain pose (described here) for 4-6 breaths.
body in balance While this workout will get your heart rate up, rev your energy, sculpt your muscles and bust stress, it should not be used as a substitute for a regular aerobic or strength-training program. Aim to get 3-5 days of cardio activity and 1-2 total-body strength workouts a week as well.