Have you ever seen anyone leave a yoga class angry? Exactly. There’s scientific evidence building that meditative practices including yoga have major health benefits from reducing pain to reducing stress.
If you’re feeling stressed out and anxious, take a look and breathe deeply: here are five yoga poses to calm the mind and ward off stress.
- Sit on a mat with your back straight and your legs out in front of you. Then, cross the legs at the shins.
- Fold your legs in, one leg tucked behind the other.
- Put your hands on the knees. Either upward or down.
- Evenly distribute your weight across hip bones. Make sure your head and spine are aligned. Relax the legs.
- Hold for up to one minute or during meditation. Don’t forget to change the cross of your legs so both get an equal stretch.
Cow and Cat Pose
- Get on all fours. Make sure wrists are directly under the shoulders and knees directly under the hips. Shins and knees should be hip distance apart. Center the head and gently look down.
- Cow Pose: breathe in as you push your navel toward the mat. Raise your chin and chest, look upward.
- Push shoulders down away from ears.
- Cat Pose: breathe out and pull the belly to the spine while rounding the back.
- Release your head toward the floor, gently.
- Inhale, coming back to Cow Pose and then exhale to Cat Pose.
- Repeat 5-20 times.
Upward Facing Dog
- Lie face-down with the tops of your feet resting on the mat.
- Place hands next to lower ribs making sure your fingers are pointing to the top of the mat. Elbows should be hugging the sides of your body.
- Breathe in and straighten the arms, lifting the torso and legs a few inches off the floor.
- Press down along the tops of your feet and keep your thighs off the ground by contracting the muscles in your legs.
- Draw your shoulders away from your ears and back. Gaze forward (or up if your neck is flexible).
- Press your shoulder blades into your upper back. Keep the elbows tucked into the sides, hugging your ribcage. Try to broaden your chest and lift it.
- Stay here for 5 to 30 seconds.
- Get on all fours.
- Knees should be hip distance apart with feet together.
- Lean back and sit on your heels.
- Reach your arms and torso forward.
- Place your forehead on the floor.
- Stretch arms out in front of you, allowing them to rest on the ground.
- Make sure your palms are pressing into floor and your butt is pressed into your heels.
- Stay here for 1 to 5 minutes.
- Lie on your back. Allow your feet to rest on the floor and your legs to open.
- Close your eyes.
- Feel your body relax into the mat.
- Focus on relaxing each muscle group from your feet to your head.
- Stay in pose for 5-15 minutes.
If you find stress creeping into your life, take 15-30 minutes (depending on how long you hold each pose) to calm down and recharge with these moves. Your body and mind will thank you.