onthegozen

On the Go Zen

in Move/Yoga by

Everyone knows the feeling. Whether you’re sitting in a traffic jam or standing in a cluster (read: failed line) of people trying to finish a simple task, you feel your blood begin to boil and the obscenities on the tip of your tongue are creative, to say the least.

The circus that is Cairo can be stressful for anyone. Instead of allowing it to zap you of energy, here are some simple exercises that can be used on-the-go to replace tension with relaxation:

Get in touch with your breath:
1. Count-to-five: This almost-cliché sounding technique is one of the most efficient stress reducers in moments that could otherwise blow-up. Find your breath and with each long inhale and exhale, count. Five isn’t enough? Keep counting until you’re ready to move on.
2. Hand on the heart, hand on the belly: Another way to get in touch with your breath is to take one hand to the heart and one to the belly. If you’re breathing properly, the hand on the heart should remain still and soft while the hand on the belly moves in and out with each breath.

Find balance and restore inner calm:
1. Choose your mantra: Mantras are a positive word or set of words used with the intention of transformation. Identify whichever negative emotion you’re feeling that moment (impatience, intolerance, etc.) and replace that word with its productive counterpart. For example, replace intolerance with a mantra of acceptance. Repeat it as much as necessary.
2. Fingertips- to- thumb: Mudras, or “energy seals”, are practiced to raise or lower certain energies. Keep a steady breath as you alternatively touch each fingertip to the thumb. Allow each finger to stay for a few seconds or longer before switching to the other hand.

Easier said than done, we know. But like most other challenges in life, with practice it comes more naturally. Take a “chill pill” and try out these techniques next time you feel the need. If you’re feeling extra stressed or anxious you can also try these anxiety relieving foods before you sit down to mindfully find some zen, or just to regularly incorporate into your daily diet. The first step is trying, you might be surprised by the results.

After completing her B.A. at the American University in Cairo, Hannah settled into the city and has now been a resident for around 9 years. She has worked in the fields of writing and education and is now pursuing another passion, which is yoga. Her other areas of interest include drawing, cooking, alternative forms of health and healing and, last but not least, spending as much time as possible with mother nature. Hannah teaches Ashtanga and Yin/Restorative yoga privately with SoHum Yoga Cairo, and at Tula yoga studio in Mohandeseen.

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