Life is taking many different directions for humans across the globe, which shakes up the foundations of our basic needs. With this comes emotional and physical side effects such as stress and anxiety. Here are the 5 Yoga Poses To Alleviate Stress and Anxiety, that serve as a gentle reminder to move your body!
Find a mat or a comfortable spot on your carpet, backyard, grass, field wherever. Don’t worry too much about getting it perfect, the purpose for these poses is to help YOU and your body to calm the mind, alleviate stress after a long day, and help manage anxiety.
Here are the 5 Yoga Poses To Alleviate Stress And Anxiety:
1) Cat/Cow Flow Mindfully begin on all fours. Tuck your pelvis in so you have a straight back. Make sure your hands are underneath the shoulders, fingers pointing forward. Find your breath, and as you inhale, round your back towards the ceiling while releasing the crown of the head down towards the earth. As you exhale, dip your belly towards the earth, chin pointing towards the sky, being mindful that your shoulders are not tense and away from your ears. Do this for 5 breath cycles.
Things to keep in mind: Do your knees hurt? Grab a blanket or towel to cushion beneath. Do you experience a pinching sensation in the lower back when dipping your belly to the earth? Stop, don’t push any further. Only go as deep as your body will allow.
The cat pose soothes and stretches the lower back. Massages the spine. Relieves stress.
The cow pose gently warms the spine and is said to alleviate stress, calms the mind, stimulates the organs, while creating emotional balance. That is a two for one deal friends!!
2) Sitting/Standing Forward Fold Sitting Forward Fold: Begin by sitting on the ground with your legs extended in front of you. Make sure your sit bones are planted firmly on the ground. Check in with how you are breathing. Then when you are ready keep your back straight and slowly begin to lower your chest down to your knees. Do not worry about getting this one down perfectly. Be generous with how much you bend the knees. If sitting up straight with your legs extended is what feels good for the day, then let that be your practice. A pillow underneath your knees and another pillow on your lap for extra support and comfort!
Standing Forward Fold: Stand straight with your knees slightly bent, arms by your side. Linking up with your breath slowly start to bend forward until your fingers touch the earth. Relax your neck and let your head down. Again being mindful to what feels comfortable here for you and that you are still staying with the breath. After five to eight cycles of breaths, relax everything and slowly begin to rise to standing. Simply notice how you feel after this one.
The Sitting Forward Fold calms the brain which is what we want during times of stress, to just be still. It also helps alleviate anxiety, fatigue, headaches, and insomnia.
The Standing Forward Fold stretches the hamstrings and hips, alleviates stress and fatigue. I personally find this pose to really help me move some energy and let go of the day.
3) Childs Pose Kneel on your mat with your knees together. Slowly bring your sit bones to your heels and rest your chest and belly on your lap. Rest your forehead on the earth and bring your arms beside you. Check in to make sure you are not crunching your shoulders, and away from your ears. If this is too intense on the knees, do not push yourself. Instead adjust to what feels good and most importantly stay connected with your breath.
Child Pose helps to quiet the mind and ease stress levels while providing benefits for the nervous system and the lymphatic system. I find this pose helps my body to relax especially when I am feeling fragile.
4) Leg Up The Wall Alright my friends this one is my absolute favorite. Especially after a long day on your feet! Find a comfortable spot on the floor, on your bed, maybe outside by a tree. Lay down on your back and bring your legs straight up against the wall of your choice. Again, it is important to connect with your breath, notice any crunching or tension in your body. Play around with this pose, bring your legs together, maybe today feels good bringing them further apart into an open split. Discover what feels good in your body.
Legs up the Wall alleviates stress while at the same time renewing blood and lymph drainage back into the heart.
**Caution: Avoid this pose if you have Glaucoma. If toes become tingly then bring your feet together and bend your knees slowly towards the pelvis.
5) Corpse Pose This is probably the hardest and most simple pose at the same time. Find a space where you will not be interrupted. Start by laying down flat on the earth, legs extended, arms by your side. Notice any discomfort in your lower back. If so, grab a pillow or a blanket and put it under your knees or bend your knees altogether.
Do whatever you need to support your body and alleviate any kind of stress. Perhaps a pillow under your head and a blanket over you sounds exactly like what you need. Now focus on your breath, notice the way it moves in and out of your body. Welcome any thoughts by simply observing them and letting them pass with every out breath. I encourage you to stay here for at least ten breaths.
The Corpse Pose triggers a deep state of relaxation putting the body at ease which slows down breathing, lowers the blood pressure, and quiets the nervous system.
From our therapeutic team here on Oahu, to your home!
Yoga is meant to be nourishing for the body and for the mind. These simple yoga poses can be done in the comfort of your own home and it can take as much or little time as you like. These are the 5 Yoga Poses To Alleviate Stress And Anxiety that bring gentle movement into your life, and help increase mobility and connection with the most important thing, your breath.
Too often in my interactions with humans, they mention pain, not enough time, not being able to hold the poses for a long time, not being able to do the pose properly, not enough space, etc. I understand it. It can be all of those things and perhaps Yoga is something that does not work for you and that’s okay too. However, I encourage to at least try, even just one pose and slowly begin growing that relationship with yourself and your practice. Sometimes a shift in perspective is all that’s needed to open up space in our lives for change.
How does our body react to stress and anxiety?
Now before I let you go, I want to mention a few educational pieces about stress and anxiety. I don’t want to keep you here long so stick with me just a little longer. Stress is a term that gets thrown around often to describe our experience of life, a situation, a moment, an interaction.
What does it do to our body though? Stress presents itself in physical symptoms such as headaches, upset stomach, chest pain, high blood pressure, and problems with sex and sleep. On an emotional level it can lead to depression, panic attacks, worry and anxiety.
When stress is not looked after it can turn to chronic stress which leads to long term complications down the line that effect all systems of the body. Upset digestion, problems with reproductive organs, increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and speed up the aging process just to name a few.
Moving onto Anxiety. Anxiety is a natural response to stress in situations such as being chased by a lion, or running as fast as you can because you are late for an important date, or maybe being lost in the jungle. However, it becomes an issue when we experience intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday life and things that have yet to happen.
Our minds play a big part in keeping us trapped inside our heads, hence why the 5 yoga poses to alleviate stress and anxiety mentioned above all focus on breathing and helping you connect to your body, and connecting to the present moment. When experiencing anxiety, here are a few symptoms that it may show up as: fast heart rate, rapid breathing, sweating, and feeling tired.
Why is this practice so important?
The practice is to simply notice that you are experiencing these things and then work through them in a proactive way. Holding space for the stress and anxiety in your life so you can understand its roots and where it stems from can actually help you work through it by incorporating different practices into your life, that serve you rather than add to the heaviness on your life. It comes with practice and gaining greater understanding of yourself and your experience on a daily basis.
Self-exploration is a beautiful concept and there is a vast number of tools that we have at our fingertips that can help the process. The first step is to just simply notice and become aware. The 5 Yoga Poses To Alleviate Stress And Anxiety mentioned are meant to be a simple practice where you can begin to explore your limitations and learn about the things that feel comfortable and nourishing to your body and your mind.