Stress relief yoga helps us to slow down, tune into our breath and focus on our body. It gives our mind a break.
Life can be stressful. I know you have a busy schedule — waking up super early for work, getting the kids ready for school, running from one meeting to another in the office, dealing with short timelines and preparing healthy meals at home. It’s a lot to balance!
There are many different ways to cope with stress like talking with friends, having a glass of rosé, going for a walk or meditating are just a few. Also a regular yoga practice can be a great way to reduce stress, stay in shape, and calm the mind. However, not all yoga poses are created equal: some positions are particularly effective for releasing tension and promoting relaxation and restfulness.
Seated postures like child’s pose or easy pose can help you to feel calm and put the mind in a meditative state, while empowering positions like eagle pose or triangle energize the body while calming the mind.
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Balasana – Child’s Pose
Child’s Pose gently stretches the lower back and massages the abdominal organs. It calms the mind, body and soul and stimulates intuition through the third eye point.
Come to all fours. Bring the knees together or if more comfortable spread them slightly apart. Your big toes should touch. Exhale, slowly reach your hips towards your heels and ankles. Your arms can be next to your body, palms facing up or extend them on the mat in front of your, palms down. Breath slowly and deeply. With every inhale allow your rib cage and belly to expand. With every exhale soften through the chest and ground your hips down.
Sukhasana – Easy Pose
Easy pose is a comfy seated position that is great for starting your practice or meditation. It gently opens the hips and lengthens the spine. It makes your calmer and feel more grounded.
Come to a seated position with both of your sit bones on the mat. Cross the legs that the feet are close to the opposite knees. Make sure your spine is long and your shoulders are relaxed down. Reach one arm over your head and breathe into your side body. Stay here for 5 long belly breath and repeat on the other side.
Tadasana – Mountain Pose
Mountain pose is good for improving your posture, it strengthens the ankles, knees and thighs and firms the core and buttocks.
Come to a standing position. Stand with your feet a little less than hip-width apart. Your knees should be directly over your ankles, and the hips over the knees. Lift the top of your sternum towards the ceiling and widen your collarbones. Your arms relax beside your torso, palms facing forward. Draw your shoulders down and back. Balance your head directly over the center of your pelvis with the chin parallel to the floor.
Garudasana – Eagle Pose
Eagle Pose releases upper-back tension and opens the heart. It stretches and strengthens the ankles, hip, wrist and shoulders and improves concentration and balance.
From Mountain Pose, slightly bend your knees and ground down through your left foot. Lift your right foot and slowly wrap it around your left. You can hook your right foot behind the left calf. Reach both arms out to the side and wrap your left arm under your right, trying to bring the palms together. Lift your elbows to shoulder height. If this stretch is too much, just bring your hands to a prayer at heart center. Let your eagle fold forward.
Uttanasana – Forward Fold
Forward Fold stretches the hamstrings and lengthens the spinal column and back muscles. It can stimulate the digestive, nervous and endocrine systems.
Release your eagle pose and come back to Mountain Pose. With an exhale, bend the knees slightly and hinge forward at the hips with a flat back. Bend the knees enough to bring your palms on the floor (or use blocks). Relax the head and neck down and feel the stretch in your spine. Your pelvis should be above your ankles.
Adho Mukha Shvanasana – Downward Facing Dog
Downward Facing Dog deeply stretches the shoulders, opens the chest and builds strength in the upper body. It also stretches the legs and hamstrings. It can rejuvenate the body and stimulate the nervous system.
From Forward Fold, ground your hands down and step back to Downward Facing Dog. Your fingers should be wide spread and all four corners of your hands should root down. Keep a slight bend in your knees and lift your sitting bones high. Stretch your heels towards the floor while straightening your knees without blocking them. Your heels don’t have to touch the floor – this will come with time! Firmly press into your hands and reach your chest towards the mat (think Upward dog in the chest).
Utthita Parsvakonasana – Side Angle
Side angle tones the muscles along the side of your body giving you structural support to lift and lengthen your spine.
From Downward Facing Dog, step your right foot to the inside of your right hand and spin your back heel down. Your back leg should be parallel to the back edge of your mat. Firmly press into the outside edge of your back foot. Your front knee should be a 90° angle. Find a strong foundation before lifting up the left arm up in the sky or extend it to the front of the room. Roll your left ribs towards the sky, make sure your upper body is in line with your pelvis. You can bring your right hand on a block or the right elbow on your right thigh to make it easier to open your chest.
Utthita Trikonasana – Triangle Pose
Triangle Pose lengthens the spine and stretches the torso I strengthens the legs and core and opens the hips and shoulders. It can improve digestion and reduce stress.
From Side Angle step your back foot up 1-2 inches and straighten your front (right) leg. Firmly press into the outside edge of your back heel. Bring your right hand on a block, on your shin or the floor – whatever is possible without distorting the sides of the torso. Your upper arm should reach towards the ceiling in line with your shoulders. It is great to practice this pose with a wall in the back to feel how to be properly aligned. You can keep your head in a neutral position or gaze up to your fingertips.
Go through a Vinyasa (Chaturanga > Upward Dog > Downward Dog > Mountain Pose) or come straight to Mountain Pose and repeat starting form step 3 on the other side.
Janu Sirsasana – Seated head to knee
Seated Head to Knee Pose stretches your hamstrings, calves and lower back muscles. It can help you calm your mind and your emotions.
Come to a seated position, extend one leg straight out in front of you and place the sole of the other foot against the other thigh. Inhale, reach your arms up, lengthen the spine, flex the top feet. Exhale and fold forward, keeping the length of your spine. You can place a strap around your extended foot or place the hands anywhere on your shin. This can be an active pose with long spine or a relaxing/yin pose with a round spine.
Savasana – Corpse Pose
Savasana is reduces stress and releases tension at the end of a practice. Int improves your senses and brings mind, body and soul in balance.
Lie on your back and let the arms and legs drop open. Extend your arms to the sides, your palms face up. Gently tuck in your shoulder blades and center your head. Your neck is long. Close your eye, take a deep and slow breath in through the nose. Exhale and let your whole body become soft and heavy. Everything in your body should be relaxed: from your pinky toe, over your hips, your abdomen, your shoulders, your face to your tongue. Remain here for a minimum of 5 to 10 minutes. Take time when you come out of the pose.