Stress. Everyone is affected by it in some way and no one is immune from it. Whether you’re stuck in sitting traffic and running late for that important meeting or you’re struggling figuring out how to balance the different roles in your life, stress can come from anywhere and can, unfortunately, take a toll on your health.
According to a 2017 study done by the American Psychology Association, 59% of Americans consider this to be the lowest point in our nation’s history that they can remember. This figure includes generations that have lived through tragedies such as World War II, high-profile mass shootings and the September 11 terrorist attacks.
However, no matter how big or small your life stressors are, yoga is a great way to help calm your mind and give yourself some much needed love. Yoga has a ton of benefits including boosting your immunity, increasing your energy levels and of course, relieving stress. Besides the aforementioned benefits, yoga is cost-effective and can be practiced practically anywhere. If you’re a beginner to yoga, you can start by practicing these yoga asanas (poses) for five to 10 minutes a day to help reduce your stress levels.
Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Uttanasana offers many benefits when practiced as a pose in itself. Often used as a transitional pose, uttanasana stretches the hamstrings, hips and calves and helps to reduce fatigue and anxiety. This asana also strengthens the thighs and knees, relieves headaches and and insomnia as well as calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression.
How to do:
Start by standing in tadasana pose with both feet facing 12 o’clock and hands lift towards the sky. Exhale as you bend forward from your hips. Place a slight bend in your knees and if possible, bring your palms or fingertips toward to the floor in front of or beside your feet. If that’s not possible yet, cross your forearms and hold your elbows. Press your feet firmly into the floor and lift your sitting bone towards the ceiling. Stay here breathing in this pose for up to one minute.
Paschimottanasana (Seated Forward Bend)
Paschimottanasana pose stretches the spine, shoulders and hamstrings as it calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression.
How to do:
Sit wit your legs straight out in front. Gently flex your toes towards your shins and reach forward towards your toes as you relax your spine, dropping your forehead toward your knees. Lift and lengthen your torso on your inhale and as you exhale, fold a little deeper into the forward fold. Depending on your flexibility level, your forward fold may not extend too far yet, so go where you’re challenged but don’t forcefully fold into the forward fold. Hold this pose for one to three minutes.
Uttana Shishosana (Extended Puppy Pose)
This asana is a beautiful blend of balasana and adho mukha shvanasana (Downward Facing Dog). It lengthens the spine while stretching the shoulders, helps create a calm mind and can also help correct the slouch of shoulders when feeling stressed.
How to do:
Starting on your hand and knees in table-top position, keep your hips stacked over your knees as you walk your hands out in front of you. Keep your palms flat and elbows lifted off the floor. As you inhale and exhale, sink your chest and forehead down into the mat and arch your back.