Everyone suffers from some degree of stress on a regular basis. While stress is easy to come by, it’s much more difficult to get rid of. Fortunately, yoga has a few solutions for helping out those of us who would like a little relief from the problems that plague our day to day lives. In Sanskrit, samahita means “always fixed in the mind.” While the following yoga poses won’t do much?to deal with the external causes of your stress, they will?help you become more able to deal with those stressors and increase personal wellness by increasing mindfulness.
Salutation Seal (Anjali Mudra)
This pose is often used in meditation, clearing the mind of distractions that can cause stress. It represents balance of the body, mind, and spirit for deep contemplation.
- Begin in a comfortable cross-legged position on the floor. Inhale and bring your palms together.
- Press your hands together and make sure your dominant hand does not press harder than the other.
- Lift your sternum so that it’s touching your thumbs and bow your head slightly.
- Sit and meditate for several minutes.
Easy Pose (Sukhasana)
- Sit on the floor and stretch your legs out in front of you. If you like, you may get a firm cushion or a folded blanket to sit upon, to lift your hips about six inches off the ground.
- Cross your shins together, then move your knees apart, slipping your feet under their opposite knee, until your legs are folded together. You should be able to see a triangle formed by your thighs and shins. There should be a noticeable gap between your feet and your hips.
- You may put your hand in your lap with the palms facing upward or put your hands on your knees, with the palms facing down. Sit up, keeping your spine straight. You may sit in this position for as long as you like, though if you practice it often, make sure you change the way your legs cross from time to time.
Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)?
This pose releases tension in the spine and belly. The motions also stimulate your digestive tract and allow energy to flow freely through the spine.
- Begin on your hands and knees, with your knees directly under your hips and your wrists directly under your shoulders.? Keep your head in a neutral position so your eyes are facing the floor.
Breathe out while lifting your spine toward the ceiling, arching your back. Your shoulders and knees should remain locked in position. Let your head fall to the floor, but do not press your chin into your chest.
- As you inhale, come back into your neutral starting position, on your hands and knees.
- This pose is often paired with the following Cow Pose.
Cow Pose (Bitilasana)
The Cow Pose is another one that’s great for your spine. It relaxes and stimulates your abdominal organs and serves to center your emotions.
- As with the Cat Pose, begin on your hands and knees, shoulders over your wrists, knees directly under your hips, eyes toward the floor.
- This time, when you inhale, lift your tail and chest upward, so your midsection bends toward the floor, as you lift your head, so you are looking straight ahead.
- Exhale and return to the neutral position, hands on your knees. Repeat this motion 10 or 20 times.
Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
This pose is great for a mind full of distracting details, and one of the many stress relieving poses learned at yoga retreats. Aside from relieving stress, it also stretches out the hamstrings, stimulates the digestive tract and relieves symptoms of menopause and PMS.
- Start seated on a folded blanket, with your legs stretched out straight. Make sure you are seated comfortably, with your weight evenly distributed. Keep your feet flexed.
- Inhale and keep your back straight as you lean forward from your hips, not your waist. If you can, hold the sides of your feet with your thumbs on the soles, elbows straight. If you can’t reach that far, use a strap to wrap around the soles of your feet and hold it tight. Your elbows should be straight at all times.
- Never force yourself forward and keep your head raised. When you feel like you can, bend your elbows outward if you are holding your feet with your hands, lifting your elbows upward, as well. If you are using the strap, loosen your grip enough to walk your hands toward your feet, keeping your arms extended.
- Each time you breathe in, stretch your torso out a little more. Each time you exhale, release yourself a little more forward. In time, you may even be able to reach past your feet.
- Hold the pose for between 1 and 3 minutes. To come out of the pose, life your torso upward and straighten your elbows. On an inhale, pull your tailbone downward toward your hips.
Head-to-Knee Forward Bend (Janu Sirsasana)?
Another relatively easy pose, this one is good for alleviating fatigue, headache, and insomnia.
- Start on the floor with your legs extended in front of you. If you like, you may put a blanket underneath you. Take a breath and bend your right knee in so the sole of your right foot is touching the inside of your left thigh. Your right shin should be at a right angle to your left leg, with your right knee on the floor. If your knee doesn’t rest there comfortably, it’s okay to put a folded blanket underneath.
- With your right hand high up on your inner thigh where it joins your pelvis, put your left hand on the floor next to your hip. Exhale and turn a bit to the left, aligning your navel with the center of your left thigh. Hold that position.
- If you feel you’re ready, you can use your right hand to hold the inside of your left foot, with your thumb on the bottom. With your left hand pressed to the floor, inhale and twist slowly to the left, then reach your left hand to the outside of your foot.
- Exhale and lean forward from your groin, not your hips, slowly and easily. Lift your elbows as you do so, so they are away from the floor, until your belly, and then your head can touch your thighs. Hold for up to 3 minutes, then release and sit up with an exhale. Repeat, but from the other direction.
Supported Headstand (Salamba Sirsasana)
You will literally stand on your head for this pose. It isn’t hard, and does a lot of good, by reversing blood flow and focusing on your breathing. Beginners can (and definitely should) do this one against a wall for support.
- You’ll need a mat or a blanket for padding for your head and forearms. Start from a kneeling position. Use a corner, if you’re a beginner, so you can sport your shoulders and hips as well as your back. Clasp your hands together and put your forearms on the floor, elbows at shoulder width. Put the top of your head on the floor. Beginners will find it easier to put their palms together and put the back of the head against their hands.
- On an inhale, lift your knees upward. Slowly walk your feet up toward your elbows, with your heels up.? Your legs should form an inverted V at this point.
- Now, exhale and lift your feet upward, both at the same time. Try to push your heels toward the ceiling. Your arches should align with the center of your pelvis when you are fully extended.
- Beginners should only hold the pose for about 10 seconds, but over time, you may increase by 5 to 10 seconds, until you can achieve 3 minutes in the pose. Eventually, you may even be able to comfortably hold it for as long as 5 minutes.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Moving back to simpler poses, the Child’s Pose is a classic, resting pose, often used to rest the body between more difficult postures.
- Begin by kneeling on the floor, so your big toes are touching. Sit on your heels and set your knees apart about hip-width.
- Breathe out and lean forward so your torso is between your thighs. Tilt your head down so your forehead is to the floor.
- Put your arms alongside your torso with your hands facing palm up. Let the front of your shoulders relax toward the floor.
- As a resting pose, you should hold this for at least 30 seconds and for as long as several minutes.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
The ultimate in resting poses, the Corpse Pose is easy to set up, but difficult to fully achieve. It is meant to symbolize the death of our old destructive and distracting ways and open a path to a state of true emptiness.
- Lie on your back, arms and legs spread. Each ear should be of equal distance to its corresponding shoulder, backs of your hands to the floor, no more weight on one shoulder blade than the other.
- The key is to rest your senses, as well. Your tongue should be softened, your nostrils softened, your ears relaxed. You should even feel the muscles of your face becoming more lax. Feel your eyes sink back, feel your brain go to the back of your head.
- This pose is a good way to gain some balance for 5 minutes after 30 minutes of more active poses. When you’re done, exhale and roll over to your right side. Take a few more breaths, then lift up with your hands on an exhale. Your head should always rise last.
Ideally, these poses should be integrated with others in a full yoga program, but there’s no reason why you can’t start with a few of the easier ones and see for yourself why yoga is so popular today.
About today’s guest author:
Emily Hunter has been writing about health and wellness topics for many years.? She currently writes on behalf of the health and wellness retreat at Samahita Retreat in Thailand. In her spare time, she cheers for Spirit of Atlanta, Carolina Crown and Phantom Regiment, creates her own sodas, and crushes tower defense games. Follow her on Twitter at @Emily2Zen