Yoga has proven to be an excellent way to relax your mind, body, and soul. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, practicing yoga will do wonders for your strength, flexibility, and mental wellness.
While yoga is generally a relaxing workout, there are certain poses that are better at stress relief than others.
"Yoga helps us slow down for a moment and tune into the breath. Simply the focus on one thing — which is the very definition of meditation — allows us to decompress," says Dr. Terri Kennedy, registered yoga teacher and president of Power Living Enterprises, Inc. "The actual asanas [poses] release tension in different ways, and help certain parts of the body."
Looking for new ways to ease stress? Here are eight of the best yoga poses for stress relief:
1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose is one of the most basic and beneficial yoga positions. This resting pose stretches out your back to eliminate pain and is also beneficial to your nervous and lymphatic system.
"It’s one of the key poses that you can come to in the middle of a class whenever you want to relieve stress," she says. "It’s very restorative … it’s child-like and allows us to come inward to ourselves."
2. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Uttanasana is a transitional pose that stretches out your hamstrings, thighs, and hips. It has also been known to relieve stress, fatigue, and mild depression. Dr. Kennedy finds this pose beneficial because it reverses blood flow throughout your body, especially when your knees are slightly bent.
3. Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
The eagle pose helps to “squeeze out” tension throughout your back, shoulders, and legs. Because balancing in this pose takes a lot of focus, your improved concentration will rid you of any and all stress.
4. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Dr. Kennedy refers to savasana as “the relaxation pose,” and for good reason. As you may have been able to guess from the name, this pose requires you to lie flat on your back for up to several minutes.
Although lying perfectly still is a challenge for some yogis, it is greatly beneficial to your nervous system. This pose initiates your body’s relaxation response, which helps to lower blood pressure and put your mind at ease.
5. Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
Another simple yet highly beneficial pose requires you to lie flat on your back and place your legs up against the wall. While lying on your back can rid you of any pain, the legs-up-the-wall position allows for better circulation to your heart. It’s even been said to slow the aging process.
6. Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)
The cat pose stretches out your lower back, where most people tend to build up tension. Arching your back 10 times in a row combined with deep focus and breathing is sure to release any stress throughout your spine.
7. Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Although it does not look very comfortable, the bridge pose can reduce fatigue, backaches, headaches, and even anxiety. This pose allows you to stretch out your back and relieve tension in your legs.
8. Dolphin Pose
Hanging upside down seems to work wonders for stress. By inverting your body and placing your forearms on the floor, you can reduce stress and anxiety, all while easing your mind.