While stress relief is often one of the first things you think of when you think of yoga, the truth is that while more athletic forms of yoga are awesome for getting out tension, there are certain poses that are better for cultivating relaxation and helping you get your zen on. The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed, roll out your mat and practice these poses to help soothe tense muscles and calm your mind.
Child’s pose is a restful pose that you can always come back to in your practice and is also great for stretching out the hips and low back and soothing the digestive system. Being kneeling on the floor, knees about shoulder-width apart. Exhale as you stretch back, resting back on your thighs and letting your shoulders relax. If you are particularly tense throughout the upper back and neck, use a bolster or folded blanket to rest your torso and forehead on. Begin holding the pose for about 30 seconds, and gradually progress.
Cat pose provides a great stretch and massage for the back and neck, where many people hold a lot of stress. It also gently massages the abdominal organs. Begin on all fours, wrists under the shoulders. Exhale as you round your back, letting your head gently drop. Inhale as you return to tabletop position. Repeat for 5-10 reps.
The forward bend is another yoga post that is great for relieving tension in the spine, shoulders and neck. It can also help to calm the mind and increase energy. Beginning with feet a few inches apart and keeping your legs straight, bend at the hips and let your torso drop towards the floor. Rest your fingertips on the floor or, if flexibility allows, rest your palms on the floor, drawing your nose towards your knees.
The bridge pose helps you to open up through the chest, relieve tired legs and reduce anxiety and insomnia. Begin laying on your back with knees bent. On an exhale, press through your heels, lifting your pelvis towards the sky. Clasp your hands under your body, allowing yourself to rest on your shoulders. If you have neck or shoulder problems, consider resting your head and upper back on a bolster for support. Being by holding the posture for 30 seconds.
Downward Facing Dog
In this pose, circulation is boosted, meaning you’ll get improved energy as well as boosting strength and flexibility in your shoulders and upper back. Begin on all fours and exhale as you extend your legs, pressing evenly through your palms and working your heels as close to the floor as possible. Begin by holding the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Legs Up the Wall
Inversion poses have a number of benefits like detoxifying, energizing and calming the nervous system, making them an awesome way to reduce stress. Legs up the wall is the perfect way to get these benefits while in a passive, relaxing pose. Begin sitting sideways to your wall or support and exhale as you sweep your legs up to rest. If necessary, use a bolster or folded blanket under your hits for support. Feel free to experiment with the distance of your hips from the wall – if you’re more flexible, you may be able to get closer to the wall, but if you’re less flexible moving farther away will work better. Feel free to rest in this pose for as long as you like.
Triangle pose is great for opening up your hips, reducing back pain and improving digestion while also reducing stress and anxiety. Begin with feet about 4 feet apart, arms extended out to the sides. Tilt your left foot out so it is perpendicular to your right foot. On an exhale, extend your torso over your left leg, resting your left hand on the floor, your ankle or your shin, keeping your legs strong as you hold the pose. Be sure to repeat on both sides.
The finale to every good yoga class, savasana helps to calm the mind and relax the body. It also gives you an opportunity to check in with your body and reflect on your accomplishments. Lay on the floor with feet spread about hip width apart and arms resting by your sides, palms turned up. Allow your body to relax into the mat, giving yourself a few minutes to connect with your breath.
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