Let’s Take a Break...So We Don’t Have a Breakdown
Stress and anxiety can strike at any moment in our lives, and comes from many sources- family, technology, work... you name it. Before you let all of this get the best of you, give Yoga a try.
Yep. We said Yoga.
Studies have proven many health benefits from regular yoga practice, in particular for managing stress and anxiety. Yoga combines three key components to bring an overall sense of calm-
Poses or Positions- also called Asanas
Controlled Breathing- focusing on the action of breathing quiets your mind. This allows you to control your body and steady your racing thoughts.
Meditation- the act of mindfulness brings you into the present moment. This allows you to witness thoughts and feelings that arise without judgement, and be at peace with everything no matter the outcome.
Now, before you start feeling that you can’t possibly turn yourself into a human pretzel… Don’t stress- these meditative stretches are so easy that you’ll feel like your muscles are actually giving themselves a relaxing massage and you’re just along for the ride. We bet you’ll be so blissed-out after this little beginner's sequence, you’ll find yourself levitating off the ground in the lotus position… ;)
The best part? You’re only 5 minutes from peace of mind.
5. Child's Pose
This is the easiest yoga pose, and will get you immediately grounded and in a meditative state.
- Spread your knees right to the edge of your yoga mat.
- Bring your toes together behind you, and slowly sit back onto your feet as you stretch your arms all the way straight out in front of you, shoulder-width apart.
- Allow your neck to totally relax.
- Stay here for at least 5 breaths, in through the nose & out through the nose.
*It's okay if your butt doesn't touch your feet or your forehead doesn't touch the mat. Just totally relax your neck and lower back, and over time, you will reach the full pose.
This simple, yet powerful pose is perfect for unwinding that tension in your lower back, neck, and shoulders.
4. Cat & Cow
This delicious flow has you switching gently back and forth between two poses that’ll stretch your spine and warm up your body, like a big sigh of fresh air for tight back muscles.
- Come to your hands & knees on the mat in a tabletop position, with your hands directly in line beneath your shoulders and your knees directly in line under your hips. Get comfortable in this tabletop position, with a flat neutral back.
- Move into the Cow stretch by inhaling through your nose and arching your spine, looking straight up to the sky.
- On the exhale, transition into Cat pose. Round the spine and bring your chin to your chest.
- Alternate between the two, repeating until utter bliss is achieved.
3. Standing Forward Fold
Just hangin’ out... Let gravity do all the work with this simple, yet profoundly relaxing and pain-relieving pose.
- Stand at the front of your mat with your feet hip-width apart.
- Take a big inhale, and as you exhale, slowly fall forward, bending from the hips.
- Don’t overextend yourself If you feel any tension in your lower back or hamstrings, it’s ok to keep a slight bend in the knees.
- Bend your arms and grab the opposite elbows.
- Totally relax your neck, letting the weight of your head sink toward the floor.
- Stay here for at least 5 breaths, in and out through the nose.
2. Tree Pose
Find your stillness and balance within by tapping your roots into Mother Earth… You’ll find yourself feeling as peaceful as a tree!
- Standing up, bring your feet together so your inner ankles and inner knees are touching. Imagine a steady, grounded line of energy running through your body and rooting you in stillness to the mat.
- Place the palms of your hands together over your heart in a prayer position.
- Shift your weight onto your right leg.
- Pick a spot on the ground to stare at, about 4 feet in front of you. This trick will help you keep your balance as you start to lift your left leg.
- As you exhale, bend your left knee out to the side and touch the bottom of your left foot on the inside of your right leg. Don’t worry if you can’t get your foot very high up on your inner thigh at first, you might only be able to get it up to your knee the first few times. As you practice, you’ll be able to get your foot higher each time.
- Take 5 deep breaths in and out through your nose, gazing at the spot on the floor for balance and enjoying this powerful, centering pose.
- Either keep your hands in prayer position over your heart, or slowly raise them over your head if you’re feeling super steady today.
- Exhale and release your left leg back to the ground.
- Repeat on the other side.
Ok, a fancy name for what is quite literally Corpse Pose. You can’t get much more chill than this.
- Lay down on your mat, with a neutral spine. Make sure the small of your back is not arched, nor is it straining and pushing down into the floor either. This can look a little different for everyone, but most importantly, make sure you’re not tilting your hips or feeling tension anywhere in your back.
- Straighten out your neck to create a long line running from the base of your skull to your spine- place the back of your head straight on your mat so it doesn’t roll to either side.
- Allow your arms and legs to fall comfortably out next to you, with your feet relaxed and your arms a few inches away from your body, palms facing up.
- Starting thinking about relaxing every single muscle, beginning at your toes and working your way up... You’ll be blown away at how much tension we hold in our bodies when you concentrate on relaxing such tiny details- relax your tongue, your eyelashes and even the hair follicles on your head!
What’s your favorite relaxing yoga pose to unwind from a hectic day?
Share your stretchy goodness in the comments below!