Yoga Poses for Stress and Anxiety Relief

Yoga Poses for Stress and Anxiety Relief

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We have already discussed how yoga can be extremely beneficial (In our Yoga 101 guide) at relieving everyday stress and anxiety. So, in this article, we are going to explore some popular yoga poses that will work effectively in reducing your day-to-day stress and anxiety.

1. Cat Pose

The Cat Pose is often considered a great pose to include in the starter’s practice, as it especially has low impact and is very gentle to start one’s practice with. Moreover, it is great for relieving stress and anxiety as you gently curve your spine and hang your head in tranquillity.

How to carry out this pose:

  • To begin with this pose, move slightly so that you are resting on your hands and knees. Then accordingly check your body posture, and both of your hands should be directly under your shoulders, also fingers should be splayed wide, and both of your knees should be hip-width apart.
  • This posture is widely known as the tabletop yoga pose, which will act as a basic and starting foundation position for many of the yoga poses we are going to discuss in this article.
  • So move around a bit and then get comfortable in your place, also play around with this movement for a bit. Rock side to side, then stretch your limbs, and also take a big deep breath with pure awareness, and without any judgment. And once you are comfortable and feeling relaxed, you should start with the Cat yoga pose. 
  • Inhale and exhale slowly, deeply and completely, through the nose. And as you exhale, gently round the spine and pull your abdominal muscles in towards the spine.
  • It is also advised for you to tuck your tailbone in as well, as it slightly tightens the muscles of your bum. 
  • Push firmly down onto your mat with the palms of both of your hands as you increase the curve of the spine.
  • Your head should always move downwards until it hangs limply down between both of your arms, and you should bring your gaze to the floor.
  • Your spine by now should be completely in the shape of a curve, and it should be resembling an arch or a stretching cat.
  • Exhale and return to tabletop position. Repeat this process about 10-15 times or as many times as you need as per your requirements.

Additional benefits of this pose:

The cat pose is often considered extremely beneficial to the flexibility of the spine, strengthening of the wrists and shoulders as well as toning or strengthening the abdominal muscles.

Posture check: At the start

  • Put both of your hands directly underneath the shoulders.
  • Fingers spayed wide.
  • Knees under the hips.
  • Then at the end or during the climax of the yoga pose, put your spine delicately curved, resembling a bridge. Head hanging limb and low between both of the arms. Both of your eyes should be gazing at the floor.
  • Palms pushing into the mat.
  • Abdominal muscles should draw inwards then towards the spine accordingly.

2. Cow Pose

The Cow pose is often considered a great follow-up pose for the cat pose as they complement each other very well if performed in a process, and together they usually offer a nice starting sequence for your yoga practice warm-up session. Moreover, this combination of cat-cow yoga sequences can be extremely calming and relaxing (if performed as per the instructions) with its gentle body movements accompanied by an equally gentle breathing process.

How to carry out this pose:

  • Similar to the cat yoga pose, one should begin this yoga pose in the tabletop position. This also means you should be on both of your knees and hands, with your palms placed directly under your shoulders and your knees placed under your hips.
  • After doing the above-mentioned process, once you have come to this tabletop position, you can move into the cow yoga pose.
  • Exhale and inhale, and on the inhale arch the spine gently and very slowly, matching the pace of your breath to the movement of the spine.
  • As you arch your spine, you should press both of your palms into the yoga mat, sink your belly towards the ground and then raise your head upwards. Your gaze should be straightforward in direction and then accordingly your chest should be facing the outward direction.
  • Exhale and return to the tabletop. Repeat this process about 10-15 times, or as many as per your needs and want.

Additional benefits:

The cow yoga pose usually offers a gentle stretch to the neck and torso, as well as flexing and massaging one’s spine.

Posture check: At the end of this yoga pose:

  • One’s spine should be slightly dipped, and it should be gently curving downwards.
  • Then accordingly, the tailbone should be raised in the direction of the ceiling.
  • Both of your hands should be spread wide, and they should also be pushed into the yoga mat.
  • Then accordingly, one’s chest should be facing the forward direction.
  • And the head should also be facing the forward direction along with the gaze.
  • Both of the knees should also remain below the hips.

The best time to perform this yoga pose: The ideal time to perform this yoga pose is at the beginning of yoga or exercise session, as it works really well as a way to stretch and warm-up one’s body before the real process begins.

Additional benefits of this pose:

This yoga pose is considered great to pair up with the cat pose. This pairing is widely known as the cat-cow yoga sequence.

3. Childs Pose

The child’s pose is a yoga rest position that is optimal for the abating of stress relief and anxiety with its emphasis on breath and stillness.

How to carry out this pose: 

  • Begin by kneeling on the floor. Then both of your feet should be touching each other and the legs slightly apart, and your butt should be released towards the heels.
  • Then accordingly bend your torso forward so that it can touch the tops of both of your thighs.
  • Rest the forward on the floor.
  • Then accordingly, move both of your arms so that they are resting comfortably ahead of your head on the yoga mat or the floor.  Alternatively, you can choose to place or rest them backward (If required), facing back towards the end of the yoga mat.
  • While in the child’s yoga pose, you need to take a deep inhale and then exhale accordingly.
  • Stay in this yoga position until you feel completely ready to move into the next yoga asana. Though it is recommended that you should try to carry out at least 3-5 breath cycles.

Additional benefits:

This yoga pose often stretches the muscles of both of your legs and it also stretches the back as well as the upper torso.

Posture check: At the end of this yoga pose

  • Your chest and torso are advised to be resting comfortably on top of both of your thighs.
  • Your head should be resting on the mat, with the forehead facing or touching the yoga mat.
  • Both of your arms should either be positioned over your head or facing down towards the end of the yoga mat.
  • The shoulders and neck should also be completely relaxed and not stiff or too tight.
  • Don’t force this yoga pose. If you are not comfortable or if you can’t rest your forehead on the floor, then it is advised for you to use a pillow or a block.

Best time to do this yoga pose: Move into a child yoga pose any time during a quick yoga session when you feel overwhelmed and tired or need a brief respite.

Follow-up pose: Any yoga pose will work great after the Child’s pose.

4. Tree pose

Apart from relieving the worry, depression, and stress, this yoga pose helps you in deep focusing entirely, as well as with the art of balancing.

How to carry out this pose:

  • Move into the mountain pose.
  • Inhale and then slowly lift the left foot from the yoga mat.
  • Continue to bring the left leg up, and catch the knee with both of your hands.
  • Inhale and exhale. Then accordingly find your comfort zone and balance by focusing on one point on the horizon. If you feel comfortable, you can remain still in this position. And if after a while you still feel confident in your abilities, then you can intensify things a bit with your movements.
  • Then accordingly bring the sole of one of your feet to rest on the inner part of the thigh. Find your balance. Lift both of your sterna, slightly straighten the spine and make sure both of your shoulders are away from both of the ears.
  • Then accordingly, press into the thigh and floor to keep the balance and for the equal weight distribution of your body.
  • Bring both of your hands together to either rest at the heart or have them raised above your head.
  • Stay like this for at least 6-8 breathe cycles. Then accordingly release by bringing the both leg and arms down.
  • Then accordingly, repeat this process on the other side as well.

Posture check:

  • The spine is straight.
  • Gaze forward.
  • Neck and jaw relaxed.
  • Shoulders away from ears.
  • One leg should be straight with the sole pressed into the yoga mat.
  • The other leg should bend with the sole pressed into the opposing thigh.
  • Sternum raised.
  • Hands either by sides, clasped at heart or up above the head.

Follow up with this pose: Any standing yoga pose will work great as a follow-up to the tree yoga pose.

5. Extended Puppy Pose

This is another gentle and effective, relaxing yoga pose that works great to calm and ease one’s mind as well as one’s body.

How to carry out this pose: 

  • To begin with this yoga pose, you need to come to the tabletop position. Both of the wrists should be in alignment with your shoulders and both of the knees directly under the hips.
  • Then slowly inhale and on the exhale, slowly move both of your hands out towards the front on the yoga mat. As the hands slowly slide forward, the chest should be gently sinking towards the end of the ground.
  • Both of your knees should stay in alignment, directly under the hips, and the arms should also remain shoulder length apart.
  • As you sink a little lower, gently place your forehead on the floor.
  • Then accordingly, firmly press both of the palms into the ground, and as you do this gently lift both of your elbows and forearms off from the yoga mat or ground.   Keep both of your shoulders completely relaxed and keep them away from touching your ears.
  • Elevate both of your hips and then tailbone upwards towards the ceiling.
  • Breathe deeply and then gently stretch and lengthen the spine.
  • Remain still in this yoga pose for as long as you can as per your requirements. Once you feel ready to release from this position, lift the forehead from the ground and move back into the tabletop pose.

Additional benefits:

This yoga pose is also considered a great stress reliever, the puppy pose is also immensely effective for stretching the spine, shoulders, and arms.

Discomfort warning:  If performing this yoga pose is extremely uncomfortable, and if it is uncomfortable to rest your forehead on the floor, then one can use a small pillow or a roll-up towel, with the help of which one can rest on them instead.

Posture check: At the beginning of this yoga pose

  • Both of the hips should be stacked on top of both of your knees.
  • Both of your palms should be pressed into the yoga mat. Your bodyweight should be evenly distributed (as it is a safety measure to make sure you are not putting undue stress on one of your wrists).
  • The top of both of your feet should be resting on the yoga mat.
  • Both the shoulders should be in alignment with both of your wrists.
  • Similarly, the spine should also be very still and relaxed, displaying its natural curve along with the process.

At the end of this yoga pose:

  • Both of your hips should remain stacked over the knees, and then the tops of the feet should also remain resting on the yoga mat.
  • Then the hips and tailbone should rise towards the ceiling. And it should also indicate as if you are pushing your bum slightly towards up.
  • Both of the arms should remain shoulder length apart from each other, the forearms should also gently rest on the yoga mat and both of the palms should also be pressed into the ground.
  • One’s forehead should also be lightly resting on the yoga mat.
  • Both of your shoulders should be relaxed and away from both of the ears.

Best time to perform this yoga pose: This yoga pose is often considered perfect for a gentle and quick bedtime sequence as you release the depression and stresses of your day. Moreover, as it is a partial rest yoga pose you can also use it during a sequence if you need to catch your breath for a while.

Follow-up yoga pose: A great yoga pose to follow after the extended puppy yoga pose is a downward-facing dog.

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