Stress is all around us: between financial issues, relationship struggles, demanding bosses and even more demanding toddlers, sometimes we feel like we won't ever be able to escape the constant anxiety.
Even worse, that same anxiety can manifest in unhealthy ways, building up muscle tension from head to toe and wreaking havoc on our bodies. That's why one of the best ways to combat stress and anxiety is incorporating yoga into our daily lives.
If you're new to the practice, don't be intimidated by the long list of poses; simply start with a handful of simple moves that are guaranteed to calm and relax your entire body. When a glass of wine just won't cut it, it's time to hit the mat; we've rounded up the top eight poses that immediately eliminate stress and anxiety by reducing tension in both the mind and the body.
Legs Up A Wall
Lay with your feet against a wall and your arms down to your sides. Take deep breaths to center your mind as you calm down. This pose helps to refresh your circulation, which in turn relaxes your nervous system.
Down dog is a great stress reliever because it allows you a lot of time to rest your mind and stretch any tight muscles that are brought on by anxiety. Start in a standing position and bend down, putting your hands on the mat shoulder-width apart. Stretch your legs back so that your knees aren’t bent and are aligned with your hands. Breathe for 60 seconds and repeat.
The cat/cow pose helps to release any stress you’re holding onto in your pelvis, neck and back. Begin with your hands and knees on your mat in the tabletop position. Round your back up towards the ceiling like a cat, and drop your tailbone and head to the ground. Then do the reverse move and arch your back down, with your head and tailbone reaching towards the sky. Repeat.
This pose stretches out your back while opening up the space around your heart, which is said to draw energy away from stressful and anxious thoughts and release positive emotions. Lie on your mat with your legs bent and arms down to your sides. Slowly lift your bottom and back off the mat and place your hands underneath, grabbing each other or your ankles. Release and repeat.
This is one of the most relaxing poses you can do to release tension from your entire body and encourage blood flow towards your brain. Sit on your knees spaced shoulder-width apart. Then lower your torso down towards your thighs while extending your arms forward. Rest your forehead to the mat and take deep breaths.
The fish pose helps to stretch out your back and shoulders, two places where we carry around a lot of stress, anxiety and tension. Lie on your back with arms at your sides and slide your hands under your bottom. Inhale and lift your upper back and head off the floor, pressing your forearms into the floor. Either keep legs straight or bend at the knee.
Seated Forward Bend
This pose will help to give your back muscles a deep stretch while releasing stress from the body. Start by sitting on your mat with your feet together and outstretched in front of you. Extend your hands towards the feet and lower your torso down. Touch your toes and rest your head on your legs.
This is a great pose to end your sequence with: The goal is to relax your mind as much as your body to fully eliminate all stress and anxiety. You’re simply lying down with your arms at your sides, breathing deeply and trying to think positive, peaceful thoughts.
[H/T Instagram / @suelaine__]