One of the most appealing benefits of yoga is how it seems to melt away your stress. When you take the time to focus on the breath as it relates to the body’s movement, like you do practicing yoga, you’re creating a moving meditation, which gives your mind a break from everyday stresses. Then, when you come back to the real world, your rejuvenated mind is more capable of taking on the sources of that stress.
If you’re feeling stressed, try taking the time to incorporate these five yoga poses into your practice – or just your day if you don’t have time for a full practice:
Easy Seated Pose – Sukhasana
Sukhasana, or Easy Seated Pose, is a general favorite for meditation and centering yourself before or after a practice. The directions for this pose are to sit tall with your legs crossed easily, hands on your knees, and palms facing up (for a receptive meditation) or facing down (for a grounding one).
If sitting cross-legged is uncomfortable, try raising your hips by sitting on a blanket or block or extending your legs instead. And if sitting straight for too long creates any discomfort, feel free to sit against a wall.
To help manage stress, come to Easy Seated Pose for a few minutes each day. Allow your eyes to close and your face, shoulders, and arms to relax. Try to clear your mind as you sit in silence (or find a guided meditation to listen to) as you focus on your breath.
Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Shvanasana
Believe it or not, the quintessential yoga posture Downward Facing Dog is a great stress reliever. In addition to stress relief, holding down-dog for 5+ breaths a few times during your daily practice energizes the body, provides an all-over stretch, and helps relieve a host of symptoms.
Starting on all fours with your knees directly below your hips and your hands under your shoulders, spread your palms, tuck your toes, exhale, and use your core to lift your knees and hips. Make sure your arms and legs are straight without being locked.
Child’s Pose – Balasana
One of this yogi’s favorite postures, Child’s Pose – or Balasana – is a resting pose that calms the brain, helping to relieve stress and fatigue. From your down-dog, bring your knees to the floor and touch your toes together. As you exhale, lay your torso between your thighs, then lay your arms on the floor along your sides, palms facing up.
Hold Balasana anywhere from 30 seconds to a few minutes, however long feels best for you. If you’re able, try slowly rolling your forehead side to side on your mat while you’re in Child’s Pose for a nice massage for your frontal sinuses.
Legs Up the Wall – Viparita Karani
This passive posture is a restorative variation of Shoulderstand and helps relieve stress, high and low blood pressure, and sinus and respiratory issues, among others. For this pose, you’ll need a support to lay under your back, like 1-2 thickly folded blankets or a bolster.
For Legs Up the Wall, you’ll lay on your support with your buttocks against the wall (or as close to it as possible), using it as to prop your legs up vertically. Feel free to adjust where your blankets or bolster are positioned until you find a placement that works for you. Stay here for anywhere from 5-15 minutes.
When coming out of the pose, make sure to remove your support first before turning to lay on your side for a few breaths to allow your spine to come to neutral.
Corpse Pose – Savasana
By closing your practice with Corpse Pose, or Savasana, you’re sealing your meditative practice with stillness. Lie on your back, allowing your legs, torso, arms, shoulders, and heads to completely relax. Allow your feet to turn out naturally, soften the muscles in your face, and let your breath deepen.
Try to stay in this pose 5 minutes for every 30 minutes of practice. Savasana is imperative for allowing your body and mind to rest and recenter after the work you put them through. It’s a common pose to get skipped, but if you want to reduce the stress of your life outside the yoga classroom, make sure you don’t miss Savasana.