Stress is something we all must face. It appears in many forms: work, family, bills, traffic, etc. There is simply no avoiding it. Yet it can wreak havoc on our health if we do not learn to manage it effectively.
Yoga is not only a gentle form of exercise, but an excellent antidote for stress. Many of the yoga asanas, or postures, are designed to help you relieve stress and achieve inner peace.
Try practicing the following asanas each day to help relieve stress naturally.
Ujjayi Breath, also sometimes referred to as Ocean Breath because of the soft sound it makes, is a breathing technique that calms the mind and helps you feel more centered.
Begin by sitting in a comfortable upright position. Relax your shoulders and allow the hands to rest on your knees. Close your eyes and begin to slow down your breathing. Slightly constrict the muscles in your throat the same way you do when you whisper. Inhale and exhale slowly through the nose. Clear your mind and focus only on the sound of your breath. Perform up to 20 deep breaths.
Bharadvajasana is a gentle seated twist that helps to relieve tension from the spine, especially the low back where many of us carry our stress.
Begin sitting upright on the mat. Bend your knees and place both feet over to the left. Inhale and reach back with the right arm. Exhale and twist around to the right, looking over the right shoulder. Press the left hand on the outside of the right knee to help you achieve a deeper twist. Hold the pose for three or four deep breaths, then repeat on the opposite side, this time with the feet over to the right of the body.
Forward bends stretch the long muscles of the legs, especially the hamstring. However, they are also good for relieving stress and tension in the neck, shoulders and upper back.
Begin standing upright on the mat. Inhale and reach up overhead. Exhale and reach forward, resting your hands on your legs, ankles or the floor. Allow your head to just hang. Breathe deeply and hold for several deep breaths.
Viparita Karani, or Legs-Up-the-Wall pose, is the ultimate pose for relieving stress and tension in the body.
Place your mat length-wise against an open wall. Sit on the mat with your hips next to the wall. Lie back and allow your legs to extend up the wall. Your body should make an “L” shape. Allow your hands to simply rest at your sides. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Stay in the pose for up to one minute.
Savansana, or corpse pose, is practiced at the end of a session to let go of any remaining stress or tension. Simple lie on the floor with the arms and legs outstretched. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Stay in final relaxation for one to two minutes.
1. Yoga Journal: Yoga Poses – http://www.yogajournal.com/poses/finder/browse_categories