5 Yoga Poses To Help Reduce Stress
We all want to find ways that will help reduce our stress, calm our minds and keep us in awesome physical shape right? Well, great news: Yoga can be the answer to all of these things! In most Yoga practices, we incorporate breathing (Ujjayi pranayama) and focus (drishti gaze), which help our bodies and minds find balance and focus, both inside and out of the Yoga studio. With keeping practice of these these things, really any Yoga pose will greatly help us reduce our daily stress and anxiety. However, there are certain poses, that are superior when it comes to reducing our stress levels. The following 5 poses are particularly helpful in this area as they 'turn on' our parasympathetic nervous system (the part of our nervous system responsible for rest, repose and digestion). Try them today and let us know how you feel!
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose is a staple pose in Yoga as it can be used to gain focus, to set intentions, to calm the nervous system and relieve physical tension. To do this pose, kneel on your mat with your knees slightly wider than your hips and your toes touching. As you exhale, bend forward and lay your torso comfortably over your thighs and rest your forehead on your mat, a rolled towel or block. Reach your arms forward with your palms flat on your mat to lengthen the sides of your body. Inhale and exhale slowly through your nose and try to maintain this position for 30 seconds to 2 minutes to achieve the full benefit of calming and restoration that this pose provides.
Standing Forward Posture (Uttanasana)
Standing forward bend is an amazing pose for calming the brain and helping to reduce stress. To do this pose, stand tall with your toes touching and your ankles slightly separated. Inhale deeply through your nose then as you exhale, bend forward slowly from your hips and let your upper body rest gently on your thighs. If needed, you can bend your knees to help your torso touch your thighs. Let your palms touch the floor, a block or let your arms hang comfortably. Inhale and exhale slowly while you hold this pose for 30 seconds to 2 minutes. You will feel calm and reset.
Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)
Tree pose is all about improving focus, balance and strength. It can make us feel grounded and/or feel empowered. When we feel stress or anxiety, we can often feel like we are uprooted and are energy is all up in our head (one of the reasons why we tend to overthink things during these periods). This is where tree pose can be helpful. By rooting our standing foot into the floor, we feel grounded. By maintaining balance, we feel focused and harmonized. By keeping our hands close to our heart, we feel comforted and connected. Alternatively, by growing our tree, we feel empowered. To do this pose, begin standing with your feet facing forward and your hands on your hips or at heart centre. Shift your weight to one leg and lift your other foot by bending your knee and turning your hip outward so that the plantar surface of your foot is placed up against your inner calf or thigh (If this is too challenging, you can use this foot as a kickstand on the ground). Inhale and exhale slowly while you maintain focus on one spot straight ahead of you. If you feel strong, grow your tree by extending your arms up and overhead in any way that makes you feel empowered. Get ready to feel strong and balanced!
Legs up the wall pose (Viparita Karani)
This pose is incredibly nourishing, calming and restoring. What more could you want if you are feeling stressed? By moving into a gentle inversion, we are essentially reversing the effects that gravity, and the consistent use of our muscles, does to our body. This pose also helps reset our circulatory and lymphatic systems and lets our parasympathetic nervous system activate thereby aiding in rest and digestion. To do this pose, bring your sit bones as close to the wall as possible and let your legs reach up the wall as you let your upper body lie down restfully. Stay in this position for up to 3-5 minutes and breathe deeply and calmly. The benefits will be calming and long lasting.
Corpse Pose (Shavasana)
Corpse pose is often the final, and definitely the most essential, pose in yoga. It calms the mind, rejuvenates the body, and releases stress and tension. After a Yoga practice, it helps our bodies assimilate all of the amazing benefits gained during practice. To do this pose, lie on your back with your arms and legs in a comfortable position, close your eyes and just let go. Your breathing should be comfortable and relaxed. Try to stay in this position for a minimum of 5 minutes. Get ready to finish your practice with this pose and feel fully relaxed and rejuvenated!
→ Want to learn more about breathing? Check out 4 Breathing Techniques To Help You Chill Out