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Top 5 Best Yoga Poses To Ease Stress
Why Is Yoga Good For Stress Relief
Yoga provides stress relief for not only your body but your mind as well, making it a top practice to become involved in if you're looking for a way to ease the stress and tension in your busy life. By focusing on the mind and breathing during yoga practice, we let go of the thoughts and anxieties weighing us down. Being in control of your body and mind, controlling your breathing and relaxing into postures to achieve the greatest benefits, we allow the mind to stop spinning and tune into the present moment.
Reduced blood pressure, heart rate and muscle tension are just some of the benefits that can be gained from practising yoga. Stretches, balances and twists allow deep relaxation into some of the places we hold and gather our stress, bunching up our muscles without consciously being aware of doing do.
These 5 poses are simple and easy to practice and will provide you with a basic routine to adopt in order to noticeably reduce and release stress.
1. Child's Pose (Balasana)
Child's Pose is one I use regularly during my practise. It helps to relieve stress and pressure in the neck whilst calming the mind. Perfect at the beginning of an exercise or during your practise, adopt this pose and take a couple of minutes, allowing your shoulders to melt over your knees, gently resting your head on your mat allowing your thoughts to flow out, relaxing deeply.
- kneel on the floor with your big toes together
- widen the knees to hip width
- exhale deeply and gently lie down so that your chest rests on your thighs
- keeping length in the neck and tailbone, let your forearms and hands lay on the floor, palms down and fingers slightly spread and allow your shoulders to relax over your knees
- stay in this position for as long as you need
2. Cat (Marjaryasana) And Cow (Bitilasana) Poses
These two poses help gently move the spine, rounding and arching the back in accordance with your breathing. The pose will help improve flexibility in the spine, especially important for those holding stress and tension in the back. Breathing deeply to accommodate a flowing style, this exercise will control the mind and allow you to focus on the breath, expelling stressful, unwanted anxieties.
- start on all floors in a neutral position, ensuring the wrists are underneath the shoulders and knees underneath the hips
- make sure your spine is straight and your neck long, ensuring your core tummy muscles are engaged
- with your core engaged, exhale deeply, rounding your back, pulling your belly button towards the spine, imagining a dome underneath your belly
- inhale and pull the tummy down arching your back and turning the gaze upward, lift the head and tailbone
- repeat with the breath for a few cycles
5 Minute Cat/Cow Tutorial Video
3. Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)
Tree pose encourages you to concentrate strongly on holding your balance, eradicating any niggling thoughts. Stretching the back and shoulders as well as improving your balance, tree pose will loosen the muscles in stress prone areas. The pose is also adaptable, making it perfect for all regardless of yoga level. For a basic pose, keep your hands in prayer in front of your chest, for a more advance variation, raise the hands above the head in prayer or with the arms apart. If your balance is good, try closing the eyes gently. It is important to remember to place the foot above or below the knee but never on the knee joint.
- standing in tadasana or mountain pose, move your weight onto your left foot, spreading the toes and grounding down into your mat through the sole of your foot
- reach to your right ankle and encourage it upwards to rest either below or above the knee (not on the knee joint)
- focus your gaze on an unmoving object and release your hand slowly once balanced
- stand upright and hold your hands in prayer in front of your chest
- from here, you can move your arms upward into a more advanced pose with hands either together in prayer or spread
4. Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
By opening your chest, back and shoulders, relieving aches and pains, extended triangle pose is one to include in your practise to help relieve stress and pressure. Breathe deeply into the pose and allow the open side of your body to stretch gently.
- start in tadasana
- keeping your feet parallel, step the feet widely apart, about the length of your leg
- raise your arms up to the side and parallel to the floor
- actively engage your arms, reaching into the tips of your fingers
- guide your left foot in slightly, grounding it into the mat and turn your right foot 90 degrees right so that it points in front of you
- extend forwards bending from the hip and not the waist, bring your right hand to rest gently beside the right shin
- keep the left hand extended above you, actively engaged and the left foot grounded into the mat
- gaze upwards toward your palm and hold, breathing deeply into the pose
- repeat on the opposite side
5. Downward Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Downward down is a liberating, resting pose often used in routines to recollect and regain control of the breath. By lengthening your back, you reduce tension in the spine, ultimately known to reduce headaches, pains and aches and fatigue. An easy pose to adopt and essential for any beginner, downward dog is a great stress reliever.
- start in tadasanabefore coming down onto your hands and knees in a neutral position, wrists below the shoulders and knees below the hips
- spread your hands wide on the mat and tuck your toes under before pressing upwards on an exhale, lifting your hips high and your knees away from the floor
- keeping your neck long and in line with your arms, widen and relax the shoulder blades and actively engage your heels, as if trying to reach down to sit them flat on the ground
- keep the breath steady and even, padding the feet gently to bring further length into the back of the legs
- hold the pose and to come out, drop your knees into a neutral position on your hands and knees before folding into child's pose