Stress is often times unavoidable – between work, kids, soccer practice, studying and still trying to take care of your own well-being. It’s important to manage stress for overall health, and to prevent any issues with weight loss from arising. Finding something you love to do can be a great stress reliever. Yoga, for example, is a fun workout, gets your body moving and has been proven to be great for stress when practiced regularly. Even taking a class 1-2 days a week at a yoga studio, or following along to a routine on YouTube in the comfort of your own living room, can be effective.
In yoga, the most important thing to focus on is breath. The breath should come deep from the abdomen in order for it to be most useful. While using yoga breathing for stress relief, lie down on your back, relax every muscle in your body, and place your hands on your stomach. Your inhale should be four seconds, while your exhale lasts eight seconds. As you inhale, your belly should inflate, and as you exhale, your belly should deflate. Your chest should not move as you are focusing the air entering and leaving the diaphragm. This kind of breathing will result in a louder sound, that most yogi’s find relaxing.
In order to maximize stress relief, focus on being in the present as this can be extremely useful. This should be a space for optimal relaxation, not one to bring life’s worries into. Focus on the music, your breath, sensations in the body, and gratitude. Get out of your head and think about your body lying on the mat.
Here are three yoga poses you can do, along with the breathing practices, that will aid in stress and tension:
This pose lengthens and strengthens the spine.
- Lie on your back, bend your knees, and place your feet on the floor hip width apart.
- Arms should be at your side, close to the body, resting on the floor.
- Engage leg muscles and buttocks to lift the hips.
- Press arms and shoulders down to lift the chest. Breathe slowly, hold for 15-30 seconds.
This pose helps to relieve back and neck tension.
- Begin with hands and knees on the floor, in a crawling position. Your shoulders should be over your wrists, and your hips should be over your knees. Keep your back flat and engage your abdominal muscles.
- To go into Cat Pose, make your back look like a hill: pull your belly button up towards your spine and engage your abs. Pull your chin towards your chest.
- To go into Cow Pose, arch your back and relax your abdominal muscles. Lift your head and tailbone towards the ceiling.
- Flow back and forth from Cat Pose to Cow Pose at least ten times, inhaling for Cow Pose and exhaling on Cat Pose.
This pose is often used as a resting pose in yoga in between other poses; however, it’s a great position to focus on your breath and on the present moment.
- Begin on your hands and knees; keep your big toes touching but spread your knees wide apart. (If you have tight hips, you can keep your knees and thighs together.)
- Come down and rest your buttocks on your heels.
- Sit up straight, then bow forward, resting your torso on your thighs and your forehead on the floor.
- Place your arms straight out in front of you, resting them on the floor. Hold for a minute or longer, breathing slowly.
If you’re wanting to check out more yoga poses for stress relief, look up Downward Dog, Extended Triangle Pose, and Happy Baby. Or search for videos online on “yoga for stress relief.” Let us know your favorites in the comment section below!