I’m sure there are a million and one things on your “to-do” list, right now. With a long list to accomplish, it can easily become overwhelming. While it is important to squeeze in every minute you can crossing each item off, remember it is equally important to make time for yourself. Yoga is a great way to help stay focused and balanced. It is especially great during those rough times when a work meeting doesn’t go as planned, a loved one becomes sick and when life just happens. The bottom line is, yoga is a great stress reliever. If you are unable to make it to a yoga studio or if it is not in your budget to purchase a membership, no worries! You can de-stress from the comfort of your home.
If relieving stress didn’t convince you to try yoga, maybe this will: yoga is an excellent workout. Yoga challenges both the mind and body. It is great for strengthening the muscles. It is gentle on the muscles/ bones and ideal for those with injuries to obtain an effective workout. Additionally, yoga is great for cardiovascular health. One of the most important things is to make sure our hearts are healthy. Plus, yoga is great for weight loss and toning up!
CALMING/ STRESS RELIEVING POSES
Mountain Pose |Tadasana (tah-DAHS-anna)
Start with your knees slightly bent and the big toes touching. To make sure your weight is event distributed, pick up each foot, separate the toes and place them back on the mat one at a time. Next, slight rock back and forth on the balls of the feet to the heels. When you feel lead to, extend your arms to your sides with the palms facing out. Allowing your shoulders to roll back, take a deep breath and set an intention for your practice. On the exhale, get rid of any negative thoughts.
Mountain pose is beneficial for improving posture, strengthening the thighs, knees and ankles while reducing flat feet.
Hold this pose for 30 seconds to one minute
*An intention can be to focus on your breathing and not let your list of things to do consume your mind. Your positive intention can be anything and it can never be wrong.
Standing forward bend/ forward fold|Uttanasana (OOT-tan-AHS-ahna)
Transitioning from Mountain pose, as you exhale, slowly begin to bend down towards your toes. Focus on bending one vertebrae at a time. Making sure the knees are not locked in place and having a slight bend in them, your hands can be placed in a few spots. Placing them on your mat, around the backs of the feet (like the photo) or on the tops of the feet. If you can not bend that far down or it is uncomfortable, using a block long ways and placing your hand there still provides you with a great stretch!
Hold this pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute
Benefits of this pose include: anxiety and stress relief- calming the brain, stimulation of the kidneys and the liver, stretching of the hamstring, calves and hips, improves digestion, reduces fatigue, relieves insomnia and is beneficial for those who have asthma, high blood pressure, infertility, osteoporosis or sinus issues.
For a gentle spine stretch, lower to your knees in a tabletop position. Place your hands underneath your shoulders and separate your knees hip distance apart. Be sure to lift your head up in a neutral position, allowing for your neck to extend straight out without bending and causing strain. This is your start and ending position. Once you have found this, slowly curve your spine to touch the ceiling. Allow your head to gently fall between your shoulders and your back to round.Come back to you neutral tabletop position. Repeat at your desired pace. This pose helps with stretching your back and neck, while gently massaging the spine.
Repeat 5 to 10 times. For an energy boost, pair this with Cow pose.
Again, start in the neutral tabletop position, with the wrists in line with the shoulders and knees hip distance apart. As you inhale, lift your chest and bottom to the ceiling, while the stomach to sinks to the floor. The head should be looking straight ahead and not bent or turned to the side. On the exhale, come back into neutral tabletop and or go into Cat pose.
Similar to Cat pose, this helps to stretch the back and neck, while gently massaging the spine. Repeat 5 to 10 times.
Cobra Pose |Bhujangasana (boo-jang-GAHS-anna)
To come into this pose, start by getting into tabletop position. Slowly and gently untuck the legs, extending them out towards the back of the mat. Using the arms, press the elbows into the side of the body before pressing up. Raise your chest to the sky. Make sure the hips stay down and the neck is facing forward-not bent to the side or hanging, causing pain.
Benefits of Cobra pose consist of increasing spinal strength and flexibility, stretches the lungs, chest, shoulders and abdomen. Also, this pose is ideal for relieving stress, fatigue and increasing digestive health.
Hold for 20- 30 seconds
Legs Up the Wall Pose | Viparita karani
For this pose, make sure your behind is 5 to 6 inches from the wall, before raising and straightening out your legs. If you are prone to lower back pain, or have a gap between your back and the ground, place a small pillow, a yoga block, blanket rolled up or bolster in the small of your back for additional support. Now, all you have to do is extend your arms to the side (as wide as you would like), lay there, breath and enjoy the moment.
This pose conquers it all and is great for: anxiety, arthritis, digestion problems, headaches, high and low blood pressure, insomnia, migraines, varicose veins and menstrual cramps. Plus, it is great for relieving lower back pain!
Hold for 5-10 minutes
The benefits of this pose are many. While laying on your back, be mindful of tight or clenched muscles. Allow your hands to gently lay facing open. As you inhale and exhale sink deeper into the floor, as if you are becoming your yoga mat. Focus on your breathing. Try not to think of the to-do’s. If you find your mind drifting to your “urgent” or “shopping” list, redirect your mind. This pose relaxes not only your mind, but the body as well. Plus, it is great to relieve any pressure in your head (ahem, that migraine from work). Not to mention it helps lower the blood pressure, relieve depression, reduce inflammation and more!
Lay in this pose for 10-15 minutes or as desired. Try not to fall asleep- I know it’s relaxing!
Child’s Pose |Balsana (bah-LAHS-anna)
To get into this pose, start by kneeling on your mat, slowly lowering down onto the tops of the heel. Allow the big toes to touch while separating your knees hip distance apart. Gently fold your body towards the mat. Extend your arms in front of you, palms facing down. With each inhale, feel how your arms lengthen. As you exhale, keep the tailbone pressed down onto the heels- sink as far as your body can go without causing strain.
If you have pain or find it difficult to sit on the feet, try using a folded blanket for comfort.
This pose is a great for stretching the hips, the thighs and ankles! Plus, it helps to calm the mind, relieve any stress and fatigue.
Hold for 1-5 minutes