When the stress of the day and looming to-do lists start to take a toll on your health, practicing yoga can prove to be an effective stress reliever. It may seem impossible to take an hour out of your busy day to do a full yoga session, but even just setting aside five minutes to do a pose or two gives you an outlet to release your stress. To get you started, here are a few poses that are perfect for soothing and relaxing.
Sukhasana (aka Easy Pose)
If you’re new to yoga, start with Easy Pose because it’s, well, easy. While sitting in this pose, you can attempt to clear your mind, focusing only on your breathing. By doing this, you’ll curb your anxiety and get rid of unwanted exhaustion that hits at midday. To begin, sit on the floor with a straight back and your legs out in front of you. Then, cross your legs, keeping your knees wide. Place eat foot underneath the opposite knee. Place your hands on your knees with palms up if you want to engage with the universe around you, or palms down if you want to look inward and feel grounded. Believe it or not, hand positions matter in the way we feel and think, especially during yoga practice. From this position, simply focus on your breath and allow your worries to melt away.
Extended Puppy Pose
Extended puppy pose blends two yoga classics: Downward Facing Dog and Child’s Pose. It’s meant to stretch the spine and shoulders, which will relieve tension built up from sitting at a desk all day. At the same time, this pose tones the hips and back, helping you become more fit and adopt better posture. To do this pose, begin on your hands and knees. Slowly, slide your arms forward while lowering your chest towards the floor. Make sure your elbows don’t touch the floor. Let your head drop so that it’s resting on the ground. Hold this pose for about 30 seconds while focusing on your breathing. Then, while exhaling, slowly move up to your starting position. Repeat this movement as many times as you’d like.
Cat and Cow Pose
Cat and Cow are two poses often combined to make one massaging movement. This pose allows you to move your body with your breaths, and promotes deep relaxation and soothing movements. Start on all fours, making sure your wrists are under your shoulders and your knees are under your hips. While exhaling, move your spine inward to create a curve that points at the ceiling. Bend your head toward the floor to follow the line made with your spine. Then while inhaling, drop your belly towards the ground and move your head upward. Continue to inhale and exhale, following this pattern.
Tree pose is a balancing pose, so it forces you to focus only on your stability. Everything else on your mind slips away when you practice a balancing pose. Begin standing straight up with your arms at your sides. Focus your attention to your left foot. Imagine your foot is growing roots into the floor to keep you in place. Slowly, shift your weight to your left foot while picking up the right foot and placing it either on your left shin or left thigh. Never place your foot on the knee of the opposite leg. Focus your gaze on an unmoving object to help you balance and stay in this position as long as you want to, directing all of your focus on keeping balance. Repeat with the other leg.
Extended Triangle Pose
Extended Triangle Pose gives a full-body stretch and helps relieve depression, anxiety and general tiredness. To begin, stand with your feet spread about 4 feet apart. Bring both arms up so that they are parallel with the ground on either side of you, and then turn your right foot out 90 degrees. Bend your torso to the right and rest your right hand on your right calf. Point your face towards the ceiling with your left hand raised towards the ceiling. Hold this position for a few breaths, then come back to center and repeat on the next side.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Corpse pose is normally done at the end of yoga classes to cool down. Often, the instructor dims the lights plays gentle music. It’s a great way to clear your head and relieve stress. Lie on your back with your arms by your sides. Allow your ankles and legs to fall naturally outward and close your eyes. With each breath, feel your body melt deeper into the ground and allow yourself to relax completely. Stay in this pose for five minutes or more. The relaxation will get stronger the longer you hold the pose. Slip a few of these simple yoga poses into your day for stress relief and a calmer, clearer mind.