These stress-relieving yoga poses help alleviate backaches, fatigue, anxiety and depression. Make sure that with each pose you are focusing on taking deep breaths. If any pose looks too difficult, simply skip it or don’t go as deep into the pose as the instructions provide. The more you practice a position, the easier it comes with time.
1. Child’s Pose
How It Calms: placing your head down on the mat has an instant calming and soothing effect on the brain. It sends a signal to the brain that you’re safe and that it’s okay to rest.
1. Kneel on the floor or yoga mat with legs together, sitting back on your heels.
2. Hinge forward from your hips until your chest comes to rest on your thighs. Your forehead is on the floor.
3. Curl your shoulders forward and let your hands rest, palms up, next to the feet. You can also have your arms out in front of you, palms on the floor.
4. Hold for 5 deep breaths.
2. Bridge Pose
How It Calms: since this pose acts as a mild inversion, with the heart higher than the head, it can calm your brain and central nervous system, promoting ease and relaxation in the body and mind.
1. Lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor, hip-width apart. Slide your arms alongside your body with palms facing down (fingertips should lightly touch the heels).
2. Press your feet into the floor, inhale, and lift your hips, rolling your spine off the floor (keep your knees hip-width apart).
3. Press into your arms and shoulders to lift the chest and squeeze your glutes to lift the hips higher.
4. Hold for 4-8 deep breaths, then release on an exhale, slowly rolling your spine back to the floor.
3. Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose
How It Calms: a deeply relaxing pose, which when combined with slow, rhythmic breathing, will allow you to tap into your “rest and digest” nervous response. Doing this pose consistently may allow you to notice that your body feels healthier overall, and that you are better able to find a calm state of mind.
1. Sit on the floor with your hips against the wall and roll onto your back, bringing your legs up the wall.
2. Your buttocks should be pressed as close to the wall as possible.
3. Sit here for about 5 minutes, focusing on deep belly breaths.
4. Standing Forward Bend
How It Calms: calms the brain and invigorates the nervous system. It balances the energy flow throughout the body and can help you get a better sleep if you suffer from insomnia or feel particularly high strung.
1. From a standing position, feet hip-width apart, exhale forward and bend the knees enough to bring your palms flat to the floor with your head pressed against your legs. If this is too deep, just bend as far as you can go.
2. Feel your spine stretching in opposite directions, while pressing your hips up. Straighten the legs fully to deepen the stretch (if you can, that is. This is difficult even for extremely flexible people like myself!).
3. Hold for 4-8 deep breaths, bend the knees and then slowly roll your torso back up, vertebrae by vertebrae.
5. Head-to-Knee Forward Bend
How It Calms: similar to the standing forward bend, the head-to-knee forward bend calms the brain and helps reduce compression in the vertebrae from sitting for so long. This pose helps relieve mild depression, anxiety, fatigue, headaches, menstrual discomfort and insomnia.
1. Begin in a seated position with legs extended.
2. Bend your left leg, bringing the sole of the foot to the upper inside of the right thigh; left knee should rest on the floor.
3. Place both of your hands to either side of the right leg, and then inhale, turning toward the extended leg.
4. Exhale, and fold forward, so that your forehead touches the knee of the extended leg (if this is too much, just bend as far as you can toward the extended leg).
5. Hold for 5 deep breaths, and then repeat on the other side.