Stress-reducing Yoga Poses
Heading into midterms, it’s natural to start to feel some stress building up but it is important to have strategies in your back pocket to use when the stress takes an undue toll. Break out your yoga mat, inhale a deep relaxing breath, and try out a few or all of these simple yoga poses designed to help stress melt away.
(Information from Select Health’s “7 Yoga Poses That Relieve Stress and Anxiety”. Original article includes video to demonstrate poses if needed for better understanding.)
- Restorative Bridge Pose- Lay down on the floor with your arms extended at your sides or stretched out as is most restful to you. Bring your knees up until your feet are flat on the floor and parallel.
This is the position you will maintain throughout the pose. Press into the soles of your feet and lift your hips off the floor. For back support, put a yoga block or thick pillow under you near the base of your spine and rest on the block, taking in several deep relaxing breaths. To come out of the pose, press down into your feet again and lift your hips off the floor to remove the block or pillow, then gently lower back down to the floor.
- Child’s pose- Start with your knees on the floor, then sit your hips back over your heels. Stretch your arms out in front of you. Your neck and spine will lengthen as you draw your ribs away from the tailbone, and the top of your head off your shoulders.
Your arms will remain stretched in front of you as you rest your forehead on the mat or a pillow in front of you. Stay in this pose for at least 10 deep breaths.
- Downward facing dog- Get the blood and oxygen flowing through the whole body with this pose. It should help you feel more energize and refreshed. Starting from Child’s pose, keep your hands on the floor, sit up on your knees then press back into Downward facing dog by lifting your hips up.
The stance resembles a play bow commonly displayed by dogs, hence the nickname. Spread your fingers wide and create a straight line extending from the middle fingers and elbows. See if you can stretch yourself up any higher, straightening your legs and then lowering the heels up and down toward the ground. Sometimes alternating the legs in a bicycle fashion is also helpful. Relax your head between your arms, keeping your arms focused through your legs or up toward the belly button. Hold for 10 breaths.
- Forward fold- Start from Downward facing dog then step forward to the top of your mat. Your hands and feet will meet as your rest your hands on a yoga block or on the floor. Form a big O shape with your arms as they hang loosely above your feet. Your tailbone is lifted and your knees should remain soft, not locked upright.
In the inhale, the back is flat and your gaze should stay forward. Relax the shoulders and tuck the chin down towards your chest. The top of your head should face the floor to help lengthen the spine. Shift your weight forward on your toes and begin to straighten your legs some while keep knees always bent. Either hold the O shape or place your hands on the ground, making sure the fingertips line up with the toes. Hold for five breaths.
- Corpse pose- Relax and rejuvenate as you reduce your stress and tension. Lie on your back and let your legs and arms drop open. Close your eyes, take slow deep breaths through your nose. Let your whole body become soft and heavy. Make note of any areas of tension or tightness and consciously release and relax those areas.
Attempt to release control of the breath, mind and body. Let your body move into a deep state of complete relaxation. Calming yogic music or guided meditation can help to clear the mind. Stay in the pose for five to 15 minutes as needed.
- Cat and Cow- These moves might feel a big funny to you at first but they can help counteract the negative effects of sitting too long, using focused breathing and extension/flexion of the spine.
Start on the floor on your hands and knees. Your wrists need to line up under your shoulders and your knees will line up directly under your hips. Your fingertips point toward the front of the mat. Shins and knees should be hid-width apart. Center your head neutrally, turning your gaze down.
In Cow Pose, you inhale and drop your stomach towards the mat. Lift your head, relax the shoulders away from the ears and look straight.
In exhale, you will enter Cat pose. Your stomach should be drawn inward toward your spine as you round your back toward the ceiling, mimicking an agitated cat stance. Your head will go toward the floor, but don’t tuck your chin too far into your chest. If you have a neck injury, do not move your neck in the moves but instead keep your head in line with your torso throughout alternating between the Cat and Cow poses.
- Legs up the wall- This pose is a bit self-explanatory. Move toward a wall with your mat, positioning yourself a few inches away from the wall. Rest your legs on the wall at a 90 degree angle. Allow your shoulders and head to rest on the floor, relaxing your arms at your sides and closing your eyes.
Your legs will stay firm on the wall. If you feel discomfort on your lower back, you can prop your lower back up with a blanket or pillow and move back from the wall a few inches.
Frankie said relax and so do we! Have a happy and stress-free day!
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