Becoming a human pretzel for a few minutes a day is a great way to alleviate stress and anxiety levels. As you may already know, yoga has many fantastic physical and emotional benefits. It reduces stress levels, clears the mind, increases energy and strengthens the core. Taking an hour-long yoga class isn’t always necessary when it comes to reaping these benefits (although I strongly encourage it). The following four poses can be done anytime, anywhere to help handle soaring stress levels.
So when the work starts to pile up this week, or you can’t seem to catch a break, dedicate 5 to 10 minutes to these poses. You’ll feel more centered afterwards – I promise! Focusing on your breath is also key in reaching a calm, relaxed state. When holding these poses really pay attention to your inhale and exhale; trying to deepen the breath.
The eagle pose helps relieve stress and improve concentration. It also improves balance and works abdominal muscles.
For eagle pose, or Garudasana, start standing tall. Put your weight in your left foot and begin wrapping your right leg over and around your left leg. Your right foot may hook behind your left calf or it may hang out in the air; depending on your body and flexibility. Next, stretch your arms straight out and sweep your right arm under your left. Try to have your palms meet, but you can also rest your hands on opposite shoulders. Make sure you have a straight spine and hold this position for 15-30 seconds. Switch sides and repeat.
The tree pose is another great balancing pose. I personally like it a little more than eagle; tree pose makes me feel more centered and at peace. It is said that this pose can aid in building confidence and help you achieve balance in all aspects of life.
Start standing and place your left leg on either your ankle, calf, or inner thigh. Avoid the knee at all costs. Place your hands in prayer position at your hearts center or, if your balance permits, reach your arms up to the sky. Stay here for 15-30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.
Out of the poses listed here, child’s pose, or Balasana, is probably the most calming and relaxing. It makes you feel more grounded helps you focus on the breath. Aside from releasing stress and anxiety, child’s pose also releases back and shoulder tension.
Start kneeling on the floor. Bring your knees hips distance apart, or further. Then slowly lower your torso and head over your knees, to the ground, while pressing your tailbone to your heels. Your forehead should rest on the ground while your arms are reaching forward, actively pressing the palms to the ground. Make sure your spin is lengthened as well and focus on taking deep, cleansing breaths. Since this is a resting pose you can stay here for a few minutes.
Bridge pose opens your heart to people and possibilities. And it reduces anxiety, fatigue and insomnia. In this pose, your chest and hips are stretched while your back and butt are strengthened.
Start lying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor. Bring your feet as close to your butt as (comfortably) possible. Then lift your hips and pelvis off the floor while pressing your feet and palms firmly in the ground. To deepen the stretch you can try rolling your shoulder blades under and clasping your hands beneath your back. Hold for 30 seconds to one minute.
Practicing yoga teaches you flexibility on the yoga mat and in life. It physically and mentally strengthens you while helping you learn balance in your life. If you don’t already practice yoga these four moves are a great place to start.