Yoga Poses That Relieve Stress and Anxiety
Part of our series on simple ways you can boost your outlook and well-being.
Stress is your body’s way of responding to any kind of demand—good or bad. Use these Yoga poses to find added balance in your life.
Restorative Bridge Pose
Extend your arms on the floor with your finger reaching toward your heels, your feet should be parallel. Maintain that position throughout. Press down into the soles of your feet to lift your hips off the floor.
Slide a yoga block under your back directly under your sacrum. Rest your sacrum securely on the block. Your arms can stay outstretched on the floor next to your body.
This should be a comfortable position. You may want to stay here several minutes as your body settles into the stretch and gets the benefits of a passive backbend. If the pose causes your back to hurt, remove the block and come down. To come out, press down into your feet and lift your hips again. Slide the block out from under your sacrum and gently lower your back to the floor.
For this pose, start out from Downward Facing Dog and step forward to the top of your mat. Let your hands and feet meet, and rest your hands on a yoga block or the floor. Make sure your tailbone is lifted and keep your knees soft. As you inhale, keep your back flat and gaze forward. Relax your shoulders and tuck your chin down toward your chest.
Extend the crown of your head towards the floor to lengthen your spine. Straighten your legs as much as possible by shifting your weight forward on your toes. Place your hands on the ground, making sure your fingertips are lining up with your toes. Hold this pose for five breaths.
Downward Facing Dog
This pose helps bring oxygenated blood to your whole body, leaving you feeling energized and refreshed. From Child's Pose, keep your hands on the floor, sit up on your knees, and then press back into Downward Facing Dog by lifting your hips up.
Spread your fingers wide and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on reaching sit bones to the sky, straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button. Hold for 10 breaths.
With this pose, you can reduce stress and tension, while rejuvenating the body, and mind. Start out by Lying on your back, and letting the arms and legs drop open. Close your eyes, and take slow deep breaths through the nose—allow your whole body to become soft and heavy. Consciously release and relax any areas that have tension or tightness.
Release all control of the breath, the mind, and the body. Let your body move deeper and deeper into a state of total relaxation. Stay this way for 5 to 15 minutes
Sit your hips back toward your heels and stretch your arms out in front of you. Lengthen your neck and spine by drawing your ribs away from your tailbone, and the top of your head away from your shoulders.
Keep your arms out in front of you and rest your forehead on your mat or pillow. Stay in that position for at least 10 deep breaths.
This pose can help counteract the negative effects of sitting too long through focused breathing, and extension and flexion of the spine.
To start out, position yourself on your hands and knees, with your wrists lined up under your shoulders, and your knees directly below your hips. Point your fingertips towards the top of your mat, your shins and knees should be hip-width apart. Center your head in a neutral position and turn your gaze downward.
Move into Cow Pose: As you inhale, drop your stomach towards the mat. Lift your head, relax your shoulders away from your ears, and look straight ahead.
While exhaling, come into Cat Pose. Draw your stomach to your spine and round your back towards the ceiling. Release your head towards the floor, but don’t force your chin to your chest. If you have a neck injury, keep your head in line with your torso throughout Cat-Cow.
Legs Up the Wall
Move towards the closest wall with your mat. Position yourself a few inches away from a wall and sit sideways. On the exhale, swing your hips 90 degrees to bring your legs up the wall. Allow your shoulders and head to rest lightly on the floor, relax your arms at your sides, and close your eyes.
Keep your legs firm against the wall, but don't force anything in this pose. If it feels uncomfortable on your lower back, you can prop your lower back up with a blanket, or move a few more inches away from the wall.
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