Stress can wreak havoc on your body, negatively impacting your immune system and ability to sleep, causing headaches, muscle aches, and body pain.
When you’re overwhelmed, overloaded, and stressed to the nines, there’s an easy solution to help you beat stress back in its tracks:
Beat Stress with These 3 Yoga Poses
Of all the many benefits of yoga, combatting stress tops the list.
The stress-relieving benefits of yoga aren’t limited to one-specific yoga “type,” and most certainly aren’t reserved only for those who’ve been practicing for years.
You can experience the stress-busting benefits of yoga even if you’re a complete newbie.
We asked Renee Airola, E-RYT500 certified yoga instructor, to share the best yoga poses for stress. She brought us her favorites: 3 poses anyone could do right now for immediate relief.
“These simple yoga movements can relieve stress in the areas most affected: shoulders, hips, and low back,” says Airola.
“The key to all these poses is letting your muscles relax and breathe slowly. These poses are gentle but very effective and can be done by anyone, even if you’ve never practiced yoga before.”
Legs Up the Wall Pose
This pose is so simple you may initially doubt you’re actually “doing” anything… that is, until you start to feel your stress and anxiety melt away as you lay flat on your back on the floor with your legs propped vertically up a wall.
“This pose is known as the “mood changer” because it’s guaranteed to calm the mind and body,” says Airola.
“Anytime the feet are above the heart, the nervous system begins to calm down, your heart rate lowers, and stimulates circulation.”
How to do it:
- Sit sideways next to a wall, your right side pressed against the wall.
- In one smooth movement, swing your legs up the wall while you lay your body down flat on the ground.
- If you’ve kept your hips and glutes as close to the wall as possible during that transition, you should be laying down with your back flat on the floor and your legs pressed vertically up against the wall.
- Breathe slowly in and out through your nose. Inhale for a count of five and exhale to a count of five. Hold the pose for 5 minutes.
Once your legs are up the wall, experiment with some variations. Move through the variations, holding each one for 2 to 5 minutes each. Have some fun with it and play!
- Legs straight up: keep legs together, pointing towards the ceiling.
- Wide V: take the legs wide apart to a V shape.
- Wall squat: bend the knees and place the feet flat on the wall, keeping the legs about hip-width apart.
- Butterfly on the wall: bring the soles of the feet together, knees bent. Keep the edges of the feet on the wall while you “sit” in butterfly.
Full Body Relief
Once again, a wall becomes a supportive prop to assist you in this restorative, stress-busting pose. Many people hold their stress in their backs. This wall stretch releases tension and tightness in the upper and lower back while stretching the hamstrings and arms.
How to do it:
- Stand facing a wall, about arms-length away.
- Place palms flat against the wall about shoulder height.
- Keeping your hands pressed into the wall, step back one step.
- Let your upper torso lower between the arms.
- Press your chest towards the floor while you press your hips back towards the wall behind you.
- Let your head relax down as you gaze at the floor.
- Take six deep, slow breaths through the nose (inhale to the count of five, exhale to the count of five).
- With your hands still pressed against the wall, begin to stand upright and walk back towards the wall.
- Release your palms from the wall once you’re fully upright.
Criss Cross Arms
Shoulders can hold a lot of tension, get really tight and put excess pressure on the back and neck. This pose releases and stretches the shoulders, creating more space and range of motion in the upper back and neck.
How to do it:
- Lie on your belly with your legs extended behind you.
- Bend your elbows and place your hands directly under your shoulders.
- Keeping your elbows bent and hands in line with your shoulders, press your forearms into the floor as you lift your upper torso.
- Keeping the shoulders squared forward, slide your right arm underneath the left underarm.
- Now slide the left arm over the top of the right.
- Your arms should be crisscrossed over each other, pointing straight in opposite directions.
- Let your head fall forward, gaze at the floor.
- If needed, you can support your forehead on a block or folded blanket/ towel.
- Take about 12 breaths (2 minutes)
- Uncross arms, taking them out to a T to relax for about a minute.
- Come back up to forearms and repeat on the other side, left under right, right over left.
Take 3 to Banish Stress
Whenever you start to feel the tell-tale signs of stress and anxiety overtake you, treat yourself to a self-care timeout, and practice these three yoga poses.
Slow your breathing, relax your body, and ease the tension that’s building up throughout your body.
Don’t you feel better, already?