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7 Yoga Poses to Relieve Stress


One of the many reasons people practice yoga is to relieve stress. Despite its reputation as a relaxing activity, there are many yoga poses that are not tailored for stress relief. Many are quite difficult! An experienced practitioner may be able to get stress relief due to their progress on the path, but a new person would only reap frustration.

But don’t worry. Yoga is a practice that goes at its own pace. Instead of worrying about what’s on the covers of yoga magazines, try this easy seven pose flow to get your body and mind distressed and retuned for the challenges of the workday. You will need access to a wall and a chair. Let’s begin!

Downward Facing Dog
This well-known pose is also excellent for stress relief, because it stretches open the backs of the legs, the spine, and the shoulders so well. It allows energy to flow down your entire spine. There are several ways to accomplish this pose. Here is the standard method:

  • Stand at end of the mat with your feet shoulder width apart and bend over until your palms touch the floor. If you can’t touch the floor, lean forward and bend your knees until you can.
  • Walk your hands forward until your body resembles an inverted V. Put your palms shoulder width apart and press your sacrum back and up. Press your spine back toward your thighs and relax your head. Imagine a dog stretching its back!
  • Try your best to get your heels to the floor. That will also stretch the backs of your legs and give the best overall stretch. Don’t try too hard though. Listen to your body.

An easier method involves using a chair for assistance.

  • Put the back of a chair against a wall.
  • Kneel in front of the chair and put your hands on the edge.
  • Rise up, until you’re standing on your toes, then straighten your legs, and lift your rear, while angling your torso toward the chair.
  • Try to achieve the inverted “v” position described earlier. As it gets easier to put your heels on the ground and get a good stretch, lower your support until you can go all the way down.

Cross-legged Lower Back Stretch

  • Sit down with intent and scoot near the wall. This next stretch will open the chest and stretch the lower back.
  • Sit with your legs crossed and back toward the wall. Sit far enough away that you can reach back and easily touch the wall.
  • Touch the wall and walk your fingers up the wall, stretching with your lower back. Lift and separate your shoulder blades, keeping your shoulders and neck as relaxed as you can.
  • Once you’ve walked your fingers as high as you can reach, rest and let yourself acclimate to the pose, then walk your fingers a bit higher.
  • Repeat this a few times.

Knees To Chest
This is a good pose for massaging the internal organs. It’s also known as “wind-relieving pose”. You can also do this one leg at a time, which we’ll do in the Easy Spine Twist following this one.

  • Lie on your back and bring your knees up to your chest, holding them in your arms.
  • You may rock gently from side to side, if you want.
  • Pull breath deep into your lower back, relaxing your back each time you exhale.
  • Hold the pose for at least forty seconds.

Easy Spine Twist
Now that we’ve bent backwards and forwards, now it’s time to twist the spine. This pose really works the muscles of your hips and lower back, where a lot of hidden tension often builds.

  • Lie flat on your back, then lift the right knee up toward your chest.
  • Pull the knee up into your chest while straightening your left leg.
  • Inhale deeply, then as you let the breath go, bring your knee across your body to the opposite shoulder.
  • Keep your shoulder blades down as you look over your right shoulder.
  • Hold for forty seconds, then do the same with the other side. Remember to breathe slowly and gently!

Legs To Wall
This supported inversion pose helps drain toxins and opens up your circulatory and lymphatic systems. It has also been called the fountain of youth pose or the nurse pose. It’s also a great introduction to later inversions like the shoulderstand.

  • Lie down with your rear as close to the wall as possible.
  • Extend your legs up the wall and flex your toes back down toward your torso. Stretch out your hamstrings and straighten your knees.
  • Hold the pose for one or two minutes.
  • You can also widen your legs to stretch different parts of the leg.
  • Keep flexing your feet toward your torso and straightening your legs. You can use your hands to keep your thighs against the wall, if it helps.

Supported Chest Corpse Pose
Yoga sessions end with some variation on the corpse pose. It’s a final relaxation pose that rebalances all of your systems after we’ve stretched. We’ll include two here. If you have upper back tension, this can end the session.

• Roll up a thick towel and lie down with the roll under your upper middle back.
• You may also place a pillow or folded blanket underneath your head.
• Just close your eyes and let all your tension go.
• You can hold this pose for as long as you want.

Chair Corpse Pose
If you have lower back problems, try this chair corpse pose instead. You can even do both if you wanted to. This variant involves the use of a chair — keeping your feet up promotes better circulation. This one is great for runners.

  • Lie on the floor and place your calves on the seat of a chair.
  • A blanket under your head is optional.
  • Each time you exhale, let a little tension go from your body along with it. Just place your attention on the part that is tense and watch it. It’ll let go on its own.
  • Hold the position as long as you like.

This is a great sequence that can be done in as little as 10 minutes in the office. Give it a try on your next break. You’ll feel a lot better for the rest of the day. If you’d like to learn more about yoga, there are many yoga resources available, and you can even go on an instructor-led yoga retreat.
Emily Hunter is a SEM Strategist and Outreach Supervisor at the Marketing Zen Group working closely with the great people at Samahita Retreat. She loves designing strategies with her team and is excited about spreading the Zen gospel. In her spare time, she cheers for Carolina Crown and Phantom Regiment, crafts her own sodas, and crushes tower defense games. Follow her on Twitter at @Emily2Zen


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