Been feeling fatigued, exhausted and stressed lately? Now is the perfect time to hit the mat. Your practice can not only relieve stress, it can ease the symptoms of anxiety and release physical tension.
The following 10 yoga poses have been organized into a sequence that can be practiced together in this order or individually on an as-needed basis to help relieve stress and anxiety. Few things to keep in mind before we start:
- Focus on deep calming breaths as you move through the poses.
- Closing your eyes may help you relax and achieve a more meditative calm state.
- Although the sequence can be done by beginners, please seek assistance of a trained yoga teacher if you are just beginning your practice.
- Proceed with caution. To avoid injuries, listen to your body and do not push too hard.
- Hold each pose for 30 seconds to a minute, depending on what feels comfortable.
- Sukhasana / Easy pose
Promotes inner calm, opens hips, lengthens the spine, and amplifies serenity and tranquillity. Focus on the breath and stay in the pose for atleast one minute.
- Tadasana / Mountain Pose
Stand with your big toes touching and feet rooting down into the mat. Lift your knee caps up and engage your quadriceps. Tone the belly by slightly pulling the navel inwards. Open your chest and roll your shoulders back. Maintain the natural curve of your spine and gaze directly forward. Hold the pose for a minute focusing on breathing calmly and evenly through the nose.
- Tiryaka Tadasana / Swaying Palm Tree Pose
Stand with feet more than shoulder width apart and raise your arms up interlacing the fingers and turn the palms upwards. Exhale and bend to the right side from waist, inhale and come back up. Repeat on left side. This completes one round. Practice 5 to 10 rounds.
- Ustrasana / Camel Pose
Stand on knees with arms at sides, keep the knees and feet hip distance apart. Lean backwards, slowly reaching for right heel with right hand and then left heel with left hand. Do not strain if you can’t get there, just support the lower back and bend backwards as far as is comfortable. In either variation, push your hips forward, keep the thighs vertical and relax the whole body, especially the back muscles into the stretch. Focus on breathing normally. Avoid completely if you have severe back ailments.
- Balasana / Child’s Pose
Begin by kneeling on a yoga mat or the floor. Bring your knees together and your buttocks to your feet. Exhale and slowly rest your torso over your thighs so that your forehead touches the mat.
- Paschimottanasana / Seated Forward Fold
Sit on floor with legs outstretched, feet together and hands on your knees. Relax the whole body and slowly bend forward from the hips sliding your hands down on the legs. Try to grasp the big toes with fingers and thumbs or else just hold any part of the legs that can be reached easily. Move slowly without forcing or jerking. Hold the position for 30 seconds at least, breathing deeply. Relax the back and leg muscles allowing them to stretch gently. Keeping the legs straight, slowly bring the trunk downwards towards the legs maintaining a firm grip on the toes or legs. Try to touch the forehead to the knees. Hold for as long as it’s comfortable.
- Bhujangasana / Cobra Pose
Lie down on the mat in a prone position with your hands next to your ribcage and elbows bent. Begin to raise your head first, then shoulders, then straightening your elbows arch the back. Bend the head back and gaze upwards to eyebrow centre. The thighs and hips remain on floor and the arms support the trunk. Unless the spine is very flexible, the arms will remain slightly bent. Hold for 30 seconds and relax in Child’s pose.
- Adho Mukha Svanasana / Downward Facing Dog Pose
From the child’s pose, stretch your arms forward, pushing into your palms lift your knees off the floor. Raise the buttocks and lower the head between the arms so that back and legs form two sides of a triangle. The legs and arms straighten in the final position and the heels come down towards the floor. Bring the head and shoulders towards the knees but do not strain. Remain here for 30-60 seconds.
- Viparita Karani / Legs up the wall or inverted pose
Lie flat on the back with legs and feet together in a straight line. Place the arms close to the body with palms facing down. Raise both the legs up perpendicular to the floor keeping them straight and together. Hold this pose for a minute. You can also take support of the wall if you are just beginning the practice. Refer to https://mysliceofzen.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/yoga-sequence-for-a-better-sleep/
- Shavasana / Corpse Pose
Lie flat on the back with arms about 15 cm away from the body, palms facing upwards. Let the fingers curl up slightly. Move the feet apart to a comfortable position and close the eyes. Head and spine in one straight line, relax the whole body and cease all voluntary physical movements. Become aware of the natural breath and allow it to become rhythmic and relaxed. Stay in the final resting pose for 3-5 minutes, then become aware of the body and surroundings and gently and smoothly release the posture.
Always work within the range of your own abilities and limitations. Approach each posture cautiously and respectfully. Seek guidance of an experienced and trained yoga instructor to begin your practice.