5 Stress Relieving Yoga Poses to Relax Your Mind and Body

5 Stress Relieving Yoga Poses to Relax Your Mind and Body

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.

 

Photo via Daku Resort Savusavu Fiji

 

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.

 

Photo via Tom Britt

 

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.

 

Photo via Daku Resort Savusavu Fiji

 

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.

 

Photo via kellinahandbasket

 

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.

 

Photo via Daku Resort Savusavu Fiji

 

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!


7 Grounding Yoga Poses to Calm and Center Your Spirit

7 Grounding Poses to Calm and Center Your Spirit

When life gets busy, thoughts and emotions can run wild and make you feel like you're out of control. To get back to a balanced state, you can use simple grounding practice for some much needed relief.

Grounding involves rooting yourself to the Earth both physically and mentally to help you find your center. Taking the time to ground yourself in your yoga practice, in your meditation practice, or even just in everyday life can help restore balance back to your body and mind when stress, anxiety, frustration, anger, restlessness, and other negative experiences get in the way of living your life.

Look toward the following yoga poses to help ground you and find a quiet, calm space within.

 

1. Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Image via WeTravel on Flickr

This is a standing pose where you’ll often hear your teacher instruct you to ground yourself down through the four corners of your feet. You’ll instantly feel supported and connected to the Earth without having to bring your awareness to any complicated balances, twists, or holds.

 

2. Warrior I (Virabhradrasana I)

Image via Daku Resort SavuSavu Fiji

Warrior I is harder than it looks as you pivot your back foot and press firmly down into the ground while keeping your pelvis turned toward the front of your mat. With proper alignment, however, this pose becomes a great source of strength, courage, confidence, and stability.

 

3. Warrior II (Virabhradrasana II)

Image via Tom Britt

When the thoughts flowing through your mind seem especially turbulent, the stable nature of Warrior II pose can help bring you back to a more balanced mental/emotional state. Remember that heel to arch alignment, press the blade of your back foot into your fat, and engage both quadriceps.

 

4. Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)

Image via pbkwee

Triangle pose is a similar grounding pose to Warrior II and is often performed right after Warrior II in many sequences by straightening the front leg, adjusting the back leg as needed, and reaching through the hand pointed toward the top of the mat to fold and rest it on the front ankle or shin (or a block of course). Consider practicing triangle pose after and Warrior II to enhance the grounding effects.

 

5. Tree Pose (Vrksasana)

Image via WeTravel on Flickr

Trees ground themselves to the Earth, which is why tree pose is truly one of the best grounding poses. It helps promote balance and centering, helping you to develop greater physical and mental steadiness. Regularly practicing this pose may also help you improve your ability to focus and concentrate in your everyday life.

 

6. Easy Pose (Sukhasana) with Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Shodhana Pranayama)

Image via Teofie

Don’t forget the power of breathing! Sitting in easy pose while practicing alternate nostril breathing helps the balance out sympathetic nervous system (which governs your fight or flight mode) with the parasympathetic system (which governs your rest and relax mode).

 

7. Corpse Pose (Savasana)

Image via Shawn Perez

And last but not least, never skip savasana when you’re intention is to feel more grounded and centered through your practice. Savasana is all about surrender, and though it is physically the most uncomplicated pose of them all, it’s said to be the hardest for the simple fact that it involves learning to let go entirely in the moment.