6 Yoga Poses to Help Relieve Stress
Long day? Long week? Long minute? Whichever it may be, yoga can help you center yourself, take a step back from the chaos… and focus on your breath, and the moment that you’re in.
Whether it’s a work deadline, family issues, or stress for no real reason, try any ( or hopefully all!) of these 10 asanas to help you banish stress, reduce anxiety and leave yourself feeling amazing.
**Start in a child’s pose.
1. Legs Up The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
From child’s pose, make your way to all fours and do a couple cat, cows. From here, make you way to sitting on your yoga mat, facing (almost up against) the wall. Slowly recline onto your back and extend your legs up the wall (you may have to inch closer to the wall… see image to the right). Let your ankles slowly fall outward and your feet should settle about hips width apart. Turn your palms face up, with your hands by you side and do some deep breathing. Remain in this pose for at least 5-10 minutes.
2. Reclined Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Twist are a great way to decompress and rid your body of anxiety and frustrations after a long day. They are also often taught as fixes for digestion problems, low energy, and muscle aches and pains. It really allows you to feel the power of wringing out the body from your core.
From lying on your back in Legs Up The Wall Pose, transition into this reclined spinal twist. Bring your legs flat to the floor, and on an exhale draw both knees into your chest and clasp your hands around them. Extend your left leg along the floor, keeping your right knee in to your chest. Extend your right arm out along the floor at shoulder-height with your palm down. Then shift your hips slightly to the right, and place your left hand on the outside of your right knee. Drop your knee over the left side of your body while keeping your left hand resting gently on your knee (**there is no need to heavily press here… let your body provide the natural weight). Turn your head to the right and keep your shoulder blades pressing towards the floor and away from your ears. Hold this pose for 10-25 breaths and then come back through center before completing on the opposite side.
3. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
From your twist, come up to standing with your feet about hips width distance apart. Sweep both hands up and then dive forward into your forward fold, hinging at your hips. If possible, straighten your knees without locking, or leave a slight bend if that’s more comfortable. Bring your palms or finger tips to the floor slightly in front of your feet, and let your head hang heavy. If this isn’t tangible, cross your forearms and hold your elbows. Press your heels firmly into the floor and lift the sitting bones to the sky. With each inhalation in the pose, lift and lengthen the front torso just slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward bend. This pose is great for your legs and mind – you’re essentially reversing the blood flow and just “hanging out.”
4. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
An active, yet relaxing stretch and release will be found in downward facing dog. From your forward fold make your way to your plank pose, from there push up into your downward facing dog. Spread your fingers wide, turn your elbows in, push your hips up towards the ceiling, and allow for a slight bend in the knees to open up some more space in your lower back. Relax your head between your arms and direct your gaze through your legs, or even better, closed. Hold those pose for ten, deep breaths. Downward Facing Dog brings oxygenated blood to your entire body, leaving you feeling revitalized and refreshed.
5. Child’s Pose (Bālāsana)
From downward facing dog, slowly come down and sit on your heels. From here extend your arms and torso forward, rest your forehead on the floor and stretch your arms out in front of you. Press your palms to the floor and let you hips and butt sink into your heels. Now is the time for deep, deep breathing. This pose has been known to be a “brain calming” pose and is usually a yogi’s favorite pose after a rigorous sequence. Stay here for 1-5 minutes, focusing on your breath. Do your best to try and not let your mind wander. Simple poses are simple on the surface, but the complexity comes into play with your mind.
6. Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
From your child’s pose, come into the last pose of the sequence – Shavasana. Lay flat on your back, legs straight on the floor, allowing your feet to fall open, and keep your arms by you sides with your palms up. Let your eyes sink to the back of your head. Deep breathe here for at least 3-5 minutes. Again, the challenge in this pose is not letting your thoughts get the best of you. Thank your body for what you have just accomplished, and relish in the moment.
Namaste! Take with you the good energy you just created during this flow, and pass it on to others!