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5 YOGA POSES TO RELIEVE STRESS

Updated: Jun 19




Through the course of your life, you have accomplished milestone after milestone and will continue to do so due to the way you have managed the stress in your life. There is no doubt, stress management breeds finesse. Still, despite well-respected boundaries, there are special moments in our lives when stress will overwhelm our physical, mental, and emotional state simultaneously; consequently, leaving the body weak, the mind scattered and emotions fluctuating rapidly. Although the effects of stress may begin in the mind, the mind and body are one; therefore, as stress accumulates it eventually starts to harm our physical body.


For stress to serve us, it must be managed.


At its core, stress is pure with no direction or purpose; essentially, it is neither good nor bad. However, stress can become negative when it is left unmanaged. We all experience the negative effects of stress, albeit in different ways. A few, but common negative effects of stress are fatigue, restlessness, high blood pressure, and general displeasure towards life; in addition, stress tends to build up in key areas of the body, most commonly the shoulders, lower back, hips and knees. Experiencing stress is inevitable, however, the negative effects that stress potentially holds on our health can be avoided, managed, or eradicated.


Explore the 5 poses below to help reduce your physical, mental and emotional stress. These 5 postures activate the parasympathetic nervous system, the part of the nervous system responsible for healing, recovery, and relieving stress.


5 YOGA POSTURES TO RELIEVE STRESS


1. Supported Child's Pose


Supported Child's Pose relieves stress in the lower back, shoulders, hips, knees, and ankles. With so many body parts experiencing relief at the same time, the nervous system settles down and the mind is able to relax. Supported child's pose delivers a sense of peace, warmth, and security, irreplaceable components to relieve stress.


To Begin…

  1. Get a bolster (pictured.) If you do not have a bolster, use a pillow or two, a few blankets folded will make due.

  2. Find a relatively quiet space where you feel safe, preferably in a tidy room with soft lighting and a clean atmosphere. A clean, open space, is a key component to relieve stress, particularly with a supported child's pose, a highly vulnerable position.

  3. Place your bolster or your makeshift bolster in the middle of a yoga mat, on a blanket, or on a carpet, vertically.

  4. Position your knees on either side of the bolster and bring your big toes to touch.

  5. Proceed to take your hips towards your heels as you rest your chest and stomach onto the bolster.

  6. Turn your head to one side and find a comfortable position to rest your arms.


5-10 minutes in a supported child’s pose will relieve stress from the most stressful day; however, stay as long as you feel.



2. Supported Bridge Pose


Supported Bridge Pose relieves stress in the entire spine, the shoulders, chest, hips, and legs.





To Begin…

  1. You may need one or two yoga blocks as pictured; however, one 800 page book or a bolster serves as reliable substitutes.

  2. Find a relatively quiet space where you feel safe, preferably in a tidy room with soft lighting and a clean atmosphere.

  3. Keep your chosen prop nearby and lay with your back down on a mat, blanket, or carpet. Being comfortable is a non-negotiable aspect when the purpose is to relieve stress.

  4. Bend your knees and allow your feet to rest firmly on the ground. Take a pause here for a minute or two.

  5. When you are ready, press your feet down and lift your hips up to place a block or two under your sacrum (around where your lower back and buttocks meet.)

  6. Allow the weight of your hips to rest comfortably on the blocks.


Similar to supported child’s pose, 5-10 minutes of supported bridge pose will relieve stress and refresh the mind and body.


3. Legs on a Chair Pose


This pose is great if you are on your feet for lengthy periods of time. Standing, walking, and running all build tension in the knees and hips. Legs on a chair release tension in the knees, hips, shoulders, and neck. Try this out, your legs will thank you.





To Begin…

  1. As the name of the pose implies, a chair is ideal; although, a bench, couch, or ottoman is equally effective.

  2. Lay on your back and bend your knees. (Be sure to place a blanket or mat down for your comfort)

  3. Lift your legs up and place the bottom half of your legs on the chair, from the back of your knees to your feet.

  4. Try to relax your head, shoulders, and hips.

  5. Place your arms beside your body or in a position that is most comfortable.


Enjoy this for 5-10 minutes. If you are comfortable, stay a bit longer!


4. Rag Doll Pose

The best part about Rag Doll Pose? It can be done anywhere and anytime. This is the pose to do after long periods of standing, sitting, or driving. Periodically through the day, utilize this pose to relieve stress in your lower back, shoulders, neck, and hamstrings.






To begin…

  1. Separate your feet as wide as your hips or about three feet apart.

  2. Then, bend your knees slightly as you fold forward

  3. Hold on to your elbows or allow your arms to dangle down

  4. Keep your legs slightly engaged for stability to allow your upper to melt

  5. Soften your neck and shoulders as you continue to fold.


Stay in this as long as you like, however, 1-2 minutes is enough to make an impact on stress levels.


* A slight sway from side to side or forward and back is sometimes nice. Try it out!


5. Final Resting Pose

Typically this is the final pose offered in a yoga class. The final resting pose, commonly referred to by its sanskrit name Savasana, relieves stress in the whole body. With the entire body grounded, the nervous system is allowed to do what it does best, serve our best needs.





To begin...

  1. Find a relatively quiet space where you feel safe, preferably in a tidy room with soft lighting and a clean atmosphere.

  2. Lay on your back. (no prop is needed, however, a blanket/block underneath the knees is a nice option.)

  3. Extend your legs and position them in a manner that allows your hips, knees, and feet to relax

  4. Then, place your arms beside your body with your palms facing up to relax your shoulders and arms.

  5. Rest the back of your head on your mat and soften your jaw and forehead.


5-10 minutes in Final Resting Pose is enough to rejuvenate your mind, body, and soul.


Regardless of age, race, gender, or socioeconomic status, these 5 yoga postures are accessible to anyone who is committed to relieving stress. We are quite fortunate to have the knowledge to reduce the stress we experience. It is time we apply these postures to our daily lives to improve our quality of life.



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