Reduce stress safely, at home, and without a prescription. Presenting five beginner yoga stretches that alleviate anxiety and stress from hectic lives.
Taking a few minutes to center yourself everyday is an essential tool to help maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle – even if your busy lifestyle tends to lean towards the hectic or chaotic side of things. Simply taking 10-20 minutes during your busy day to stretch, breathe and focus your attention inward, can help find the calm within the storm. The best way to introduce these practices into your life is through easy beginner yoga stretches which specifically target stress and anxiety.
Although an extremely popular pursuit these days, yoga is only recently being pursued by researchers to better understand the effects practitioners have reported for decades on reducing stress and anxiety as well as acting as a mood stabilizer.
One of the most cited studies of the past two decades is a 2005 German study which indicated that even with two doses of 90 minute yoga sessions a week, women in the study group reported vastly better scores than the control group after just three months. These women had originally entered the study reporting being emotionally distressed but reported a 50% change in levels of depression, and a 30% change in their levels of anxiety afterwards. Their reporting on overall well being increased 65%.
Because yoga focuses on deep and controlled breathing, inward focus through meditation as well as physical activity, even small doses can easily improve your overall wellbeing and help reduce stress. Below you will find a rundown of five core yoga stretches, which aim to alleviate the anxiety and stress that go hand in hand with your busy schedule. Some of the poses below are passive, while others are more active. These stretches are a perfect solution on how to reduce stress safely, at home, and without a prescription.
A passive pose that releases hamstrings, and reduces swelling and pain in your lower body after a long day on your feet
Lay down so that your back is flat on the floor, and your legs are pushing against the wall vertically. Your sit bones should be close to or touching the base of the wall. Your body should form as close to a 90 degree angle as is comfortable. You can use a yoga block, or a firm pillow to support your lower back and provide further opening through the chest. Release your arms to your sides.
Relax, and breathe deeply for a minimum of 5 breaths. If you have the time, hold the pose for upwards of ten minutes.
A passive pose that releases tension, fatigue and anxiety, through calming down the brain
Kneel on the ground, with your toes touching and your legs spread apart comfortably. Sit on your heels and lean forward, allowing your body to fall over your knees and towards the floor. Nestle your torso between your knees as much as possible, and stretch your arms away from you along the floor. Palms down for better grounding.
Breathe into your pose, allowing a longer reach on each inhale.
An active pose that is an intense opening stretch to release tension accumulated throughout the day.
Begin in downward dog, kick right leg back into three-legged dog then swing it slowly forward to place your right knee down behind your right hand. Your right foot should be placed as close as comfortably possible behind your left hand. The more of a 90 degree angle you create with your knee the more intense the pose. The left leg should be laid out behind you, knee and top of foot along the floor.
Breathe in this position with your arms straight, hands placed on the mat beside your hips. Once relaxed into this stretch, begin walking your hands forward and rolling your torso forward as far as comfortable. Imagine laying your forehead on the floor. Breathe for 5 breaths and repeat on the other side.
A passive pose to relax the lower back and gently release the inner groin. Increases well-being
Lay with your back on the ground. Lift your feet off the floor and grab the outsides of your soles with your hands. Bend your knees so that they fall on either side of your torso, and gradually draw your knees into your armpits.
Rock side to side gently to massage your lower back.
An active pose that opens the heart and lungs, while soothing the mind
Lay on your stomach. Place your hands beside your chest and push upwards, lifting your head and chest upwards into a small back bend. Aim to be able to hold the bend without pushing into the ground with your hands, you can try holding your hands an inch above the floor.
Extend the arms as much as comfortable, be careful not to overextend the lower back. Breathe deeply for 5 breaths.