Stress is something we all deal with on a daily basis especially in today’s fast paced world. Fortunately, there are a number of tools we can use to combat stress including yoga. Yoga relieves stress by improving the quality of our breath, calming our central nervous system, improving our mood, and also releasing tension in our muscles.
All yoga poses overall can reduce stress but certain specific poses have an amazing ability to significantly relieve stress almost instantly. Stress causes low energy in the body so it’s important to take it easy. Avoid high energy poses and focus more on grounding and restorative poses.
For even added stress relief, you can hold yoga poses for longer periods of time.
Here are 7 poses to help reduce your stress levels – please feel free to incorporate these poses into your lesson plans where it may help others.
This restorative pose relieves sore and achy back muscles. It also helps to stretch the lower and upper back muscles.
Begin in a table top position, with your arms reaching out straight in front of you or by your sides. Sink your hips back towards your heels. Hold for 5 to 10 breaths, and repeat as many times as needed to fully relax and stretch the lower back.
Easy pose helps to ground us and relax the body. Adding meditation or mantras are another great way to enhance this pose for relaxation. Breathing exercises or pranayama can also be practiced in Easy for stress relief.
To begin, sit upright and cross the legs comfortably. Root down into the sit bones evenly and lengthen up through the crown of the head. Keep the eyes open or closed and simply focus on your breathing. Stay in Easy for several breaths or for a few minutes.
3. Supine Twist
Twists are a great way to detox the body and relieve tension in our muscles. Because we are lying down on our backs in this particular twists, it creates an even deeper sense of relaxation in the body.
To begin, lie down on your back. Draw the knees into your chest and allow them to gently fall over the right side. Keep your shoulders pressed to the mat as you allow your head to gaze in the opposite direction as your knees. Stay here for several breaths before releasing. Switch sides.
4. Standing Forward Fold
Fold poses in yoga naturally help us to relax because it creates a sense of surrendering and peace in the body. Standing Forward Fold allows helps us relax by bringing more blood flow to our brains and stretching out tight muscles in the legs.
To begin, stand in Mountain. Begin to hinge forward at the hips and allow the fingers to reach towards the ground. Keep the knees slightly bent or straighten them. Let the head and neck be soft and keep length in the spine. Hold for several breaths before slowly releasing back up.
5. Wide Legged Forward Fold
Wide Legged Forward Fold is another great fold that helps to create a sense of peace and surrender in the body. It also helps to stretch the hips and legs, releasing tension in those muscles.
To begin, step the feet out wide about 3 to 5 feet apart. Bring your hands to your hips and begin to hinge forward at the hips. Allow the hands to reach for the ground, a block, your shins, ankles, or toes. Stay here for several breaths before slowly releasing back up.
Pigeon is an amazing pose for stress relief because it helps to ground ourselves and also deeply stretches tight hips.
To begin, start in Downward Facing Dog or a table-top position. Bring the right foot in and place it down on the mat behind the right wrist. Extend the left leg back on the mat with the top of the left foot resting on the mat. Stay here or to deepen the pose, begin to fold towards the mat keeping the spine lengthened. Hold for several deep breaths before slowly releasing back up. Switch sides.
Savasana is the ultimate relaxation pose. Adding pillows, blankets, and aromatherapy are some great ways you can enhance Savasana for added stress relief benefits. You can also do Savasana for longer periods of time, for example up to 20-30 minutes to really relax your mind and body.
To begin, lie down on your back with your arms comfortably by your sides. Let the feet relax comfortably and close the eyes. Focus on your breathing and enjoy the stillness.