Three Techniques to Clear Your Mind

Get into the right headspace for the holidays.

Top performers know that mindset is key to achieving their goals. They also know they need to clear their heads to have the right mental space for their pursuits. Here are two body releases and one self-care technique from Jill Miller, self-care expert and creator of Treat While You Train, which are designed to help you keep your head on straight through the whirl of the holidays — or any busy time of year.

To get started, you’ll need two Yoga Tune Up® Therapy Balls.

Hum Breath for Vagus Nerve

Equipment: none

Your vagus nerve is your major nerve responsible for the relaxation response. If you have trouble clearing your head from your day, your past or your future, there are breath techniques that stimulate this nerve to help give your brain a vacation from those thoughts.

The key is abdominal thoracic breathing — a dynamic inhalation — followed by exhalation with a hum sound you sustain as long as you can. The vocalization and vibration stimulate your vagus nerve.

Put Your Back on Your Back

Equipment: two Yoga Tune Up (YTU) balls

The deep back muscles are a kind of protective soft-tissue sleeve for the dozens of nerves that branch off the spinal cord and roam into the rest of the body. Sitting for long periods and checking our phones can cause us to round our upper backs, which leaves these tissues chronically overstretched and out of place.

This move uses the Ball Plow technique to return those overstretched muscles to their optimal position and “hug” your central nervous system, as well as improve spinal alignment and strength. Your complete focus on one side at a time gives you feedback about the tone and texture of each side of your back, and will keep your mind in your body instead of wandering away.

Pranic Bath (aka, Trapeze Warm-Up)

Equipment: none

This complex arm movement, borrowed from trapeze artists’ training, makes you concentrate on the dynamic motion of your shoulders, elbows, wrists and hands, coupled with your breath — leaving no time for distracting thoughts! You can also visualize clarity washing over you with each inhalation, and confusion or obstruction dissipating with each exhalation.