After a long day of work, my yoga mat is my best friend. I come to the mat for various reasons, but a big one is to relieve stress and quiet my mind after a hectic day.
Since I have a backward schedule for work (I work 2-10 p.m. Monday through Friday), I usually do yoga in the morning. But if I’m feeling really tense after work, I’ll do a few poses to calm anxiety and stress. I’ve been practicing yoga regularly for over a year now, and it’s helped be more aware of my body and how it is feeling at all times. I’m mindful of which poses will help me release tension in areas that need it most.
Here are my preferred poses to relieve stress & anxiety:
Pigeon pose (Kapotasana)
Pigeon pose is an intense posture for me. But, to me, it is one of the most therapeutic and calming poses. It’s an amazing hip-opener and since it is such a vigorous posture, it helps me focus intently on my breathing. When I zero in on my breath during difficult postures, the breath flows to those areas of greatest tension. I also love upside-down pigeon shown here.
Dolphin pose (Makarasana)
Dolphin pose is another intense posture, but instead, it focuses on your shoulders, arms and hamstrings. My yoga teacher mentioned this a great inversion to a gentle yoga flow. And the best way to really benefit from this stretch is to tune into the breath.
Child’s pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose is my security blanket in yoga as it is for many others who practice. When I’m sweating bullets in hot yoga and I don’t think I can go much further, I come to child’s pose. It’s revitalizing and motivates me to keep going during a difficult workout. But I also love doing this pose when I feel uneasy or stressed. This pose reminds me of the word “surrender.” It’s surrendering to the day and letting all those fears and anxieties float away.
While in child’s pose, I also enjoy shifting my arms to the left and then to the right side for side body stretch. And a great way to receive a deeper stretch in your forearms and shoulders is to move your forearms close to the sides of your head and fold your hands into a prayer position.
Legs up the wall (Viparita Karani)
Legs up the wall pose does wonders for the body and mind. It’s a simple posture, but its effects are numerous. I enjoy this pose a lot because it’s great for someone who sits in an office chair all day. Try this pose for five minutes right before corpse pose. It’s the perfect combination.
Corpse pose (Savasana)
I don’t know what pose is better than corpse pose. For most of the classes I take, we end our practice in this pose. It’s a time to be still, reflect and be grateful for a healthy body and mind.
But, it’s much more than just laying on the floor. While in this posture, it relaxes the central nervous system, improves sleep, helps relieve depression and even aids with fatigue. It’s one of the simplest yoga poses, but also one of the most beneficial.
The best part of these poses is that they help me focus on my breath and redirect negative thoughts elsewhere. There is a big difference when I start a yoga practice (even if it’s just five minutes!) and when I finish. The change is drastic and I naturally come out of it more positive and energized. It’s one of the major ways I stay balanced throughout the week.
Here are a few of my favorite videos to do while I’m at home.
What are some of your favorite yoga poses? How do you relieve stress and anxiety? Let me know in the comments below!