The Easy, Anti-Stress Activity That’s Actually Super Fun
As a yoga teacher, I’ve spent a lot of time studying yoga with a diverse group of people, and have learned many different techniques from those who have studied adjacent practices. Here’s a trick that I learned from one of my yoga teachers who also practices tai chi, an ancient, meditative martial art form originating in China that is performed slowly with controlled breath, and with an intention to balance the body and mind. Like yoga, tai chi has been examined by Western medicine methods as a tool to help treat anxiety and depression, and many promising studies have been conducted demonstrating its stress-relieving capabilities — although there’s more to learn about how and why it’s effective.
One of the initially strangest techniques that I now absolutely love: Bouncing. It’s just one small exercise within a rich practice, but it’s used often to release tension in the body and mind, improve balance, strengthen muscles, and stimulate circulation. It’s also super easy, and if you let yourself go, it’s really fun.
How to do it: Start by standing with your feet hip-width apart, and as you inhale, lift yourself up on the balls of your feet. As you exhale, drop down onto your heels. Make this drop dramatic and sudden, so that you create a bounce through your body as your heels hit the floor. (If you have downstairs neighbors, maybe do this more gently and quietly.)
Then repeat: inhale while lifting onto the balls of your feet, and exhale while crashing down. And again. And again. Let your arms hang loose, let your head loll, and bend your knees a bit. Try going faster, then slower. Things are going to shake and jiggle, just like they’re supposed to. Lean into it, shaking your whole body along with each bounce, and laugh. You can also bounce with your feet flat on the floor by bending and straightening your knees with the breath, really letting the movement shake your whole body. After two minutes of this, you will definitely feel different — in a very positive way.
Jezmina Von Thiele (they/them) is a 200-hour Kripalu certified Yoga Instructor with a Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga Certificate. They are a dancer, healer, artist, art model, and tell fortunes in their mixed Roma/Sinti family’s tradition. Follow them on Instagram at @jezmina.vonthiele and visit jezminavonthiele.com for more.
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