With so much going on in the world, it’s natural for us to feel overwhelmed by stress and anxiety. Whether it’s world matters that have your head spinning, events in your personal life, or quarantine is just getting to you, there are specific yoga poses that can help alleviate this frustrating anxiety and help you feel at ease in the world.
1. Tree pose
A popular standing pose, this can help you become more introspective and cam down those racing thoughts that seem to be overwhelming you. It’s also a superb core strengthener. Bear weight on one foot, lifting the other off the floor and turning the sole inside the standing leg, placing it on the outside of the calf or thigh (ankles for beginners.) Pace hands in prayer position in front of chest for an added balance challenge. Hold for two minutes on each side.
2. Triangle pose
Energize your mornings with the triangle pose, which reduces not just anxiety, but back and neck tension just in case you slept wrong. Stand with feet wider than the hips, facing left toes forward and the right at a slight angle. Lift both arms out to the sides, with palms facing down, and reach forward with your left hand, extending the torso forward. Bring our right hip back by hinging at the hip, and place the left hand on your leg, or the floor if possible. Lift right arm up towards the ceiling. Hold for a minute on each side.
3. Child’s pose
When you just need to relax and let it all go, put yourself in the very easy child pose. Start in a kneeling position, sitting back on the heels. Fold forward, and extend your hands and arms out in front of you, letting the torso fall fully onto the thighs. Rest your forehead on the floor and hold for up to five minutes, or however long you need.
4. Legs-Up-the-Wall pose
If you have a wall, this is a completely restorative way to declutter your mind and returning to a zen place. It also really opens up the lower body (goodbye, lower back pain) while strengthening. Start by sitting with your right side against a wall. Then, lie down and swing both your legs up so they are gliding against the wall. Keep your bottom as close to the wall as you desire, relaxing the entire upper body. Add a pillow beneath your bottom if you need more support. You can stay in this pose for up to 10 minutes.
5. Bridge pose
If you need luxurious restoration that’s also a heart-opener, look no further than the bridge pose. It can also be rejuvenating, as it wakes up both the front and back of the body. Start by lying supine with arms by the side, and bend your knees with feet flat on the floor, heels close to your bottom . Then, press your feet into the ground, pushing your tailbone up and engaging glutes as you thrust into the air, lifting your bottom until thighs are parallel. Return by rolling the spine down slowly.
6. Cow to Cat pose
If you’re suffering from anxious thoughts or can’t get out of a bad mood, consider Cat to Cow pose, which really wakes up the spine and encouraging you to mindfully re-connect through breathing. Start in tabletop, inhaling as you arch your back and stick your tailbone up, lifting the crown of your head as well. Hold for five seconds, and then exhale as you curve your spine up, engaging the abdominals and tucking your chin with the head facing down.
7. Camel pose
By increasing your body’s flexibility with camel pose, you increase your mind’s flexibility. This backbend starts by kneeling on your knees (with a wall in front to support), tilting the crown of your head back as you open your chest up, placing hands on the back of the pelvis. Press front thighs back and lift your heart by pressing shoulder blades against back ribs, leaning back with fingers grazing your heels. If you can, hold onto them in a full extension of this backbend. It boosts your body with oxygen and opens your mind at the same time.
8. Forward Fold
If camel pose sounds daunting to you, consider starting with one of the most simple – the forward fold, otherwise known as Uttasana. It’s an automatic way to clear your head, and that’s probably because all the blood flow quickly rushes to your head. This mentally calms and can even relieve headaches while stretching out your back, shoulders, and hips. Stay in this pose for a minute or two, and if you want, grab your elbows, swaying side to side, which releases tension.