5 Yoga Poses to Eliminate Stress and Anxiety

5 Yoga Poses to Eliminate Stress and Anxiety

Stress is an unfortunate part of life that can’t be escaped completely. It can even be a good thing in small doses that pushes you to complete a goal or meet a big deadline. Stress becomes dangerous when it is chronic and starts affecting things like sleep, eating habits and socialising. Chronic stress can develop when things that put a strain on you, like work deadlines and relationship issues, become so constant that you can’t switch off during downtime. Sometimes triggers can be subtle, like a snide passing comment from your boss or something in your social media feed that triggers negative feelings. They all add up and can lead to problematic stress levels.

There are also some sneaky culprits that will increase stress levels that you might not expect, like caffeine. Your daily cup of coffee or tea chemically elevates two of your body’s stress hormones called adrenaline and cortisol. Caffeine also elevates your heart rate and puts your body into a state of high alert. That coffee date with your bestie might be doing more harm than good if you’re already stressed out.

Stress can have a huge impact on your health and wellbeing if it becomes unmanageable, but it doesn’t have to control you. It’s time to take your power back. These gentle yoga poses will help you take control of managing your stress and anxiety. Practice them before bed to unwind, or after a tough day at work, or in the morning to get ready for a potentially stressful day. The poses feel amazing and offer a quick and easy way to de-stress whenever you need it. Practice self-care techniques like these regularly and watch your stress levels plummet.

How will these yoga poses help me relieve stress? 

First, they focus your attention on specific points of tension in your body. The focus part is key. We spend a lot of time multi-tasking and having our attention pulled in a million different directions. This is incredibly stressful and not good for mental health long-term. These yoga poses draw your attention to one simple thing. The sensations in your body. Everything else melts away.

Second, they release tension. If you live a high-stress life, you are likely performing little micro muscle contractions all day as a response to the tension. This leads to tight muscles, restless sleep and chronic pain. This often shows up in the back, shoulders and hips. The pain, discomfort and lack of sleep lead to more stress and the downward spiral continues. Doing these yoga poses will allow you to find those tension points and actively release them through breathing, stretching and lengthening. You are physically releasing stress from your body, and the deep relaxation you achieve from this will feel so good!

Third, these poses get the blood flowing. They pump oxygenated, nutrient-rich blood all over the body, which heals damaged tissue and cells. You are using your own body to heal itself. Now that’s magic!

Best of all, these yoga poses don’t take a lot of time to add to your routine, and the payoff is huge. You can do them when you get home from work to unwind, or right before bed for a great night’s sleep. If you want to get fancy, light some aromatherapy candles and play some calming music to create the ultimate relaxing atmosphere.

Are you ready to take your power back and control the stress in your life? Grab your favourite leggings and get ready to destress! Here are 5 yoga poses that will help you eliminate stress and anxiety.

1) Puppy Pose

Why this posture is great

Puppy pose is a very relaxing posture and gives you a deep stretch through the shoulders, chest and sternum. It’s a fabulous pose if you carry tension in your shoulders (hello desk job). Here is how to do it:

Step 1

Start on all fours. Make sure that your shoulders are above your wrists and your hips are above your knees. Walk your hands forward a few inches and curl your toes under.

Step 2

Move your bum halfway back toward your heels. Keep your arms flexed straight so your elbows don’t touch the ground. You don’t want your arms resting on the ground in this pose.

Step 3

Rest your forehead on the floor, keeping your arms active. Press your hands into the floor and elongate through the arms while pulling your hips back and up, not down to your heels like child’s pose

Hold this pose for thirty seconds to a minute, or longer if it feels good.

2) Reclining Bound Angle Pose

Reclining bound angle yoga pose for stress relief
Why this posture is great

I love Reclining Bound Angle pose because I have very tight hip flexors from biking, running and sitting at a desk. I also hold a lot of stress tension in that area. If you are the same, this pose is a beautiful and relaxing release for the hips and groin.

Step 1

Lie on your back with your palms up and legs straight in front of you.

Step 2

Bend your knees and bring your heels as close to your bum as your body will allow. Let your knees fall to opposite sides and keep the bottom of your feet touching. Relax and breathe into the pose. Hold for thirty seconds to a minute, or longer if it feels good. I often hold this for upwards of 2 minutes.

3) Spinal Twist

Spinal twist yoga pose for stress relief
Leggings pictured here: Burst in Lush Green
Why this posture is great

This spinal twist can be a very intense release, so take it slow and listen to your body. My chest and back are so tight that I can’t rest my knee on the ground, even after years of trying, but I still get the benefits of a deep stretch and tension release. Don’t worry about where you are in this posture. Just sink in and enjoy.

Step 1

Lay on your back and stretch your arms out to either side in a T shape with the palms facing down. Bend your left knee and place your left foot on top of your right knee.

Step 2

Drop your left knee over to the right side of your body, aiming to touch the ground and rotating at the spine and lower back.

Step 3

Relax into the posture and let gravity do the work to pull you deeper into the pose. Hold for thirty seconds to a minute.

Step 4

Slowly and gently roll back to centre when you are ready, and repeat on the other side.

4) Standing Forward Bend

Standing forward bend yoga pose to relieve stress
Why this posture is great

The standing forward bend is a wonderful release for the back of the legs from top to bottom. You can get quite a deep release with this one if you do it multiple times in one session.

Step 1

Stand straight and tall with your legs together and toes touching. Bend forward hinging at the hips. Depending on how flexible you are, try to reach for the back of your calves, the back of your ankles or palms to the floor. Keep your knees soft and slightly bent so you’re not putting too much pressure on the knee joint or overstretching anything.

Step 2

Breath and relax into the pose. As your body releases, you can pull your torso closer to your legs and reach further down your legs. Straighten your legs a little more to move into a deeper stretch.

Standing forward bend yoga pose to reduce stress

Hold this pose for thirty seconds to a minute. Consider doing another pose and coming back to this one for a second round. You will be surprised how much the back of the legs will let go the second time.

5) Sphinx Pose 

Sphinx yoga pose for stress relief
Why this posture is great

Sphinx pose is a lovely gentle inversion. A lot of stretches require bending the body forward. We also spend a lot of time hunched over and sitting. Sphinx pose relaxes your body into the opposite direction, stretching out chronically shortened and tight muscles.

Step 1

Lie on the floor on your stomach with your legs together straight behind you. Use your muscles to press your legs and hips into the floor.

Step 2

Prop yourself up so that your elbows are bent at your sides and you are resting on your forams. Keep your legs and hips pressed into the floor as you do this.

Sphinx yoga pose to relieve stress
Step 3

Enjoy this backbend for thirty seconds to a minute, or as long as you feel comfortable. When you are ready to come out, lower your chest slowly back to the ground, then lay your head down and take a rest here if you like.

Those are my 5 five yoga poses to eliminate stress and anxiety. So grab your favourite yoga leggings or treat yourself to a new pair, and give these stress-relieving poses a try.

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