By now, you know that stress is not exactly the best thing for your health. Yoga is a great stress-buster in and of itself, but there are a number of specific poses that target stress at its root. Try one of these simple yoga poses at the end of a rough day to get all the health benefits of staying calm and relaxed.
1. Balasana (Child’s Pose)
If you’re intimidated by all of the stretching, twisting, and balancing that is often a part of advanced yoga practice, child’s pose is an excellent place to start.
This pose allows you to fully breathe into the back of your lungs, resulting in a feeling of relaxation.
As you can see, this is a fairly straightforward pose to get into. While kneeling, touch your toes and keep your knees just wider than your hips. As you exhale, lower your torso between your knees, until you end with your forehead resting gently on your mat or floor.
You may either keep your hands behind you, at your sides, or stretch them out in front of you to lengthen your torso and stretch your shoulders. Hold this pose for at least thirty seconds, and feel free to come back to it between your other poses.
2. Trikonasana (Triangle Pose)
This is a great way to open up the body and improve your breathing if you’re flexible enough to do it. Stand with your feet more than shoulder-width apart, but close enough that you still hold a position of strength. Stretch your arms out to the side, level with your shoulders.
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Lean to the right, and drop your right hand to the floor or your ankle, and your opposite arm up to the sky. Hold for thirty seconds, and then repeat on the opposite side. If this is too difficult, prop your lower hand on a yoga block, a stack of books, or a chair.
3. Bhujangasana (Cobra Pose)
This pose will help you break through your stress as you open and stretch your chest, allowing yourself to breathe freely.
To get into cobra pose, lie down on your stomach. With your arms held tight to your body and your hands pressing down on the mat at shoulder height, push yourself up with your arms (don’t lock your elbows) until you are supported by your hands and upper thighs. Lean your head back slightly for maximum effect.
4. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
This pose, which will help you extend your whole body, requires quite a bit more flexibility, but will ultimately result in relaxation of tight muscles in your legs and back.
Stand with your feet together, and slowly bend forward from the hips while focusing on lengthening your torso and keeping your knees straight. If you can, place your hands on the floor. If that is too difficult, place your hands on the back of your ankles or calves. As you breathe, see if you can sink lower into the pose with each exhalation.
5. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)
The solidity of this pose will help ground you and allow you to focus on your breathing.
Stand with your feet not quite together, and your toes spread. Ensure that your weight is evenly distributed, and that you are not leaning forward, backwards, or sideways.
Keep your arms held at your sides, a few inches from your thighs, with your palms facing your body (you may also raise your arms above your head, or press your palms together in front of you).
Lift your head and push our your chest, but maintain relaxation in your neck and your shoulders. Hold the pose for at least a minute, as you look straight forward and focus on your breath.
What yoga poses do you use to relax after a long, stressful day? Have you heard any tips that you’d like to add below?