Worried? Tense? Or just plain old stressed out?
We’ve all been there. December is an especially stressful month for many yogis—especially since most of us finding ourselves trying to balance our healthy lifestyle habits like healthy eating and fitting our practice into the day with seasonal tasks like shopping, decorating, cooking.baking, entertaining, and attending special events.
Next time you step onto your mat for your yoga practice, or anytime you just need a quick stress reliever, try the following poses.
Low Lunge Pose (Anjanayasana)
We carry a lot of emotional stuff in our hips, which is why some yogis experience emotional release (sometimes even through tears) when they work on opening their hips. Low lunge pose is great for targeting not only the hips but also the quadriceps, groin, and hamstrings to promote full range of motion in the lower body.
If you want to get into a deeper stretch from this pose, you can reach back and grab your foot to pull the heel as close to your glute as you can. Try extending the other arm upward to challenge your balance.
Extended triangle pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
Extended triangle pose offers a full-body stretch that is well known for relieving stress, anxiety and in some instances physical pain too. In addition to stretching the hips, groin, hamstrings, calves and spine, this pose also opens your chest while strengthening your legs, feet, ankles, back, and abdominal muscles.
If you experience neck pain or discomfort in this pose, you can easily turn your gaze to face downward while focusing on relaxing your neck. If that goes well, you can gently shit your head so that that you’re gazing forward.
Cow Face Pose (Gomukhasana) with Eagle Arms
Although it can be an intense seated pose, cow face pose is known to help induce relaxation by releasing tension. The hips, thighs and shoulders will be stretched while the squeezing of the eagle arms will help to stimulate blood flow for for improved book circulation.
Hint: Full eagle pose (garudasana) is another well known stress reliever, so you may want to try that one as well. Because it involves balancing on one leg while the other is crossed over it, you’re forced to focus on a single point to keep your balance, which is a big component of the pose that makes it effective for stress reduction.
Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
For a soothing, restorative effect on both the mind and body, look no further than legs up the wall. This one is ideal for those who aren’t in it for flexibility or strength and helps to reduce stress by renewing blood and lymph drainage back toward the heart space.
You can do this one up against any wall, but many yogis love to do it in their beds for a cozier feeling. Combine it with controlled breathing to help lower the heart rate and enhance relaxation.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Good old child’s pose. How can you go wrong? A true resting pose, placing your third eye down on your mat or the floor is instantly calling for the mind. It also soothes the adrenals, opens the hips, improves digestion, and stretches the back.
Hold child’s pose for as long as you want while taking slow, deep breaths. A few minutes later, you’ll feel less stressed and more rejuvenated so that you can continue taking on the day’s tasks with confidence and purpose!