Have you ever found yourself having a complete breakdown over something that seems trivial? Does it feel like you can’t take a breath or like the world is crushing you? If so, then you aren’t alone and the majority of people have experienced stress and anxiety at some point.
It can be difficult to find coping mechanisms that work and most of us are willing to try anything at this point. One way that seems to work well is yoga because it can help you mentally and physically. While there are tons of different poses, we’ve listed eight of them that help ease stress and anxiety. We’ve also included basic instructions to help make the poses easier, so take a deep breath and continue reading to see them.
1. Rabbit Pose
This first pose is also known as Sasangasana and is a great place for beginners to start. It can help lengthen your spine and stretch the muscles in many areas, including the back, shoulders, and arms. It can also give more stimulation to systems like the endocrine system or the immune system. The people that should avoid this pose are those that have had traumatic injuries to the spine, neck, shoulders, or knees.
To help get rid of any pressure or stress on the neck or knees, you can fold a towel or blanket and put it underneath those areas. You could also put one underneath your hands if you find that your wrists take a lot of pressure.
Start off in the Child Pose and hold onto your heels. You’ll then pull your head in closer to your knees and rest the top of your head on the floor. Hold onto your heels and take a deep breath, then lift your hips upwards and roll onto the crown area of your head.
Bring your forehead as close to your knees as possible and hold the pose for four to eight breaths. Slowly breathe out and bring your hips back to your heels. Finally, slide your forehead onto the floor and go back into the Child Pose.
2. Tree Pose
The Tree Pose, or Vrikshasana, can be done by almost everyone and can help improve your balance. It can also help improve your concentration, focus, and memory. You can also build up the strength in your knees and ankles, which can make other poses much easier. You should avoid this pose if you’ve had any type of traumatic injury to your knees or hips.
To help you easier achieve this pose, there are a few things you can do. For starters, you could try bringing your arms out at your sides to help keep you stable and strong. The other thing you could do is pose against a wall so you have that extra back support.
Starting with the Mountain Pose, bend your right knee and put all of your weight onto your left leg. Turn your right knee towards the right and rest your foot on the inside of your left leg. Next, you’ll want to stare at one point on the floor slowly start sliding your right foot up your left leg, and stop when you can’t continue balancing.
Bring your palms together and put them to your chest as if you were praying. Continue staring at the spot and hold the pose for four to eight breaths. Slowly breathe out while bringing your arms back to your sides and finish by bringing your foot back to the ground.
3. Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend
The Wide-Legged Standing Forward Bend is also known as Prasarita Padottanasana and is great for all yoga levels. Not only does it help lengthen your spine, but it can also help stretch it and release any tension. It also stretches the muscles in your legs and back, which can make you feel refreshed. Those that have had injuries to the shoulders, legs, back, or hips should avoid the pose.
If you can’t get your hands to touch the floor, you can either spread your legs further or place yoga blocks under your hands. If you don’t want to place your hands on the floor, you can do things like hold onto your big toe, grab the outsides of your feet, or hold your ankles.
You’ll start with the Mountain Pose and space your legs about three to four feet apart to make a Five-Pointed Star. Keep your back straight and breathe out, then slowly move your hands to the floor directly below your shoulders.
Using your arms, start pulling your head down while bending your arms like you would if you were doing a pushup. Go as far down as possible and hold for three to eight breaths. Slowly breathe out and move your arms back out, then take a breath and go back into a Five-Pointed Star.
4. Warrior III
This pose is also known as Virabhadrasana III and is best done by those that have experience with other poses. It can help improve your balance, concentration, and memory. It can also help tone up and refresh your entire body. Anyone that has had recent injuries to the back, legs, shoulders, or hips shouldn’t try this position.
This is one of the poses that doesn’t have many modifications for making it easier to achieve. With that said, though, there are a few different positions that you can have your hands in, which include holding onto opposite elbows, keeping your arms out at your sides, or resting your hands on your hips.
To achieve this pose, you’ll want to start out in the Mountain Pose. Bring your right foot forward about a foot and move all of your weight to this leg. Take a breath while you slowly move your arms above your head and entwine your fingers together making sure that the index fingers are pointing up.
Slowly breathe out and lift your left leg up and out while slowly bringing your upper body down. Your body should look like a T and you’ll want to focus on one point on the floor. Hold the pose for two to six breaths and slowly breathe out while bringing your arms and leg down until you’re back in the Mountain Pose.
5. Side Stretch Pose
The side stretch is another one of those poses that’s well-known and great for those with all experience types. It can help stretch your back, sides, and arms. It can also help improve circulation and helps various systems work better. This should be avoided for those that have had back, hip, knee, or leg injuries.
If needed, you could sit in a different position that takes the weight or pressure off of your legs or knees. You could also do a modified stretch to help everything get loosened up. If you can’t stretch on your own, you could try and have someone help keep you in the needed position.
You’ll want to sit on the floor with your knees bent underneath you. Take a moment to breathe and focus, then start to slowly stretch to the side. Place your hand on the floor and start walking it away from your body. As you get farther out, tilt your head and stretch your other arm over your head.
Hold for three to eight breaths and slowly move back to the starting position. Do this with the other side and hold for the same amount of time. To finish, come back to the starting position and just breathe for a bit.
6. Downward Facing Dog
Adho Mukha Shvanasana, or Downward Facing Dog, is one of the most well-known yoga positions and is great for both beginners and those that have been doing yoga for a long time. It helps stretch your back, while also opening up your chest and helping stimulate multiple different body systems. You should avoid this pose if you’ve had any recent injuries to your hips, back, shoulders, or arms.
If needed, you could add blocks under your hands, so you won’t have to bend as far. You could also put a folded blanket or towel under your hands or position both of your heels against the wall. Whatever you find the most comfortable is fine.
You’ll start in the Table Pose and begin to lift your hips upwards. Spread your fingers and put your hands under each shoulder. Keep your arms straight and slowly start pressing backward with your hips.
Slowly bring your chest to your thighs and lift up using your tailbone. Let your arms and head dangle in that position for four to eight breaths. To finish, breathe slowly and go back into the Table Pose.
7. Plow Pose
The Plow Pose is also known as Halasana and is for those that have some experience with yoga. Not only can it help improve your blood circulation, but it can also help release stress and tension in the back and shoulder areas. If you’ve had any recent injuries to your shoulders, back, or neck, then you shouldn’t try this pose.
You can put a folded blanket or towel underneath your shoulders if you need a little more support or you can have someone help by holding you in place. Most people will put their hands in one of three places and you should put them in the position that’s most comfortable for you.
You’ll start by laying on your floor with your arms at your sides and your palms resting on the floor. You’ll want to bend your knees then kick and rock your legs until your knees are resting on your forehead. Use your hands to hold your hips and start straightening your legs until your toes touch the floor.
Once this happens, you can move your hands along the floor, interlock your hands behind your back while squeezing, or put your hands over your head and hold your toes. Hold for four to ten seconds, then slowly move your knees back to your head and roll back into a laying position.
8. Fish Pose
Also known as Matsyasana, this pose is great for beginners and helps open up your chest more. It also helps your spine be more flexible and can have positive effects on many systems in the body. Keep in mind, you shouldn’t try this pose if you’ve had any recent injuries to the back, neck, arm, or shoulder areas.
If you’re having issues staying up, you can put a couple of folded towels or thin blankets under your neck and head. This way, you can have support in that area and not have to worry about any weight being put there. There are a few variations that you could try and the important thing is that you’re stretching your spine and staying in that position for a few breaths.
Start on your back with your arms at your sides and your legs a few inches apart. Slide your hands underneath your thighs just below your bottom, making sure your palms are facing down. Push into your bent elbows and use your arms to lift your chest towards the ceiling.
Make sure you arch your spine, then roll to the top of your head. Make sure you aren’t using your head or neck to support you and there shouldn’t be any weight on these areas. Keep this pose for three to eight breaths, then slowly roll your head back down and finish on your back.
Even though there are many different yoga poses that can help you with anxiety and stress, these are some of our favorites. They may take a little time to achieve, so remember that it’s completely fine to go at your own pace.
Try to not stress about needing to get the poses perfect and just do what you can. Yoga is great for cleansing both the body and mind, which means it’s great for easing stress and anxiety. You might find that some of these poses become your new favorites!
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