We know that exercise is essential for optimal physical health, but it's also necessary for mental and spiritual health. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise can increase self confidence and lower symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety. Exercising pumps up your endorphins, the feel-good neurotransmitters commonly known as a "runner's high." Not only do you feel better post workout, but exercise can also be a form of meditation in motion. Thinking about the movements of your body will allow your mind to focus on the exercise, stripping away all the stresses of the day. It offers your mind an escape and leaves both your mind and body feeling strong.
Your days are packed to the brim with errands, events and activities for you and your family, so it's hard to find a chunk of the day you can take for yourself to unwind and destress. What if you could achieve the mental and spiritual health benefits of exercise in twenty minutes? We've put together a twenty-minute yoga-meets-martial arts workout that you can use to escape the daily stress.
Dancing Half-Moon: Stand with your legs wide, toes pointed out slightly, elbows bent, and hands in front of your chest as if holding a ball. Lower into a plié squat, keeping knees above ankles. Slide deeper into squat and shift torso over bent right knee, straightening left leg and forming a large, floating circle with your arms over right thigh; hold for 3 breaths. Rotate torso to face right thigh, place both hands on ground, straighten right leg, and lift left leg straight up until parallel to ground. Let your neck relax and pull shoulders away from ears. Hinge forward more, lifting left leg to make a straight line from head to toe; hold for 3 breaths. Return to start; switch sides and repeat. Do 5 to 10 reps on each side. (via Fitness Magazine)
Rolling Knee: Start in Downward Dog with abs tight and your weight evenly supported by hands and feet. Extend your right leg straight behind you, forming a diagonal line from toes to hands; hold for 5 breaths. Rise onto the ball of your left foot and bend your right knee, curling your heel toward your butt, breathing deeply. Shift forward, rounding your back, and bring the right knee to your nose. Hold for 5 breaths. Return to start. Do 10 reps; switch legs and repeat. Click here to see an instructional video from Fitness Magazine. (via Fitness Magazine)
Dancing Dog: Lie facedown with your hands under your shoulders and elbows bent. Keep your gaze just in front of the mat. Tuck toes, then bend your right knee 90 degrees, right foot flexed. Lift right thigh off mat. Keeping your right knee bent, press leg up and back to open right hip while pressing into palms to push chest away from ground. Continue rotating to right until upright. Place right foot on ground beside left leg, toes pointed out. Bend right elbow by thigh, hand up. Press into left palm, lift hips into bridge position, and extend right arm overhead, keeping left shoulder above left hand; hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Lower hips and return to seated position. Roll back down to start. Switch sides; repeat. Do 10 to 20 reps, alternating sides. (via Fitness Magazine)
One-Arm Plank with Toe Hold: Start in full push-up position. Shift your weight onto your right arm and rotate body to the left so your hips and legs are stacked. Extend left arm up; hold for 5 breaths. Slowly bend the left knee, bringing your foot toward your belly until you can grab your left big toe with left fingers. Hold for 5 breaths, or try the next step. If you're advanced, lift your left arm and leg straight up; hold for 5 breaths. Reverse back to start. Switch sides; repeat. (via Fitness Magazine)
Water Wheel: From standing, lunge to the right and lift your arms to form a T. With your back flat, hinge forward, reaching your left hand toward left toes; look at your hand. Keeping your legs still, rotate your arms clockwise while turning your torso to the right. Brush your left hand by right toes, with your right hand back. Maintain your lunge and lift your torso as your arms continue sweeping around in a circle; bring your left arm up as the right arm comes down. As your left arm peaks and starts downward, flow into a left side lunge. End with your right hand overhead, left hand down. Do 10 reps. Switch sides; repeat. Click here to see an informational video from Fitness Magazine. (via Fitness Magazine)
Use the above exercises to keep both your mind and your body in shape. Improving your mindset is as simple as a 20-minute workout!
Keep your stress-relieving workouts varied. Check out seven other exercises to relieve stress.