Stress Relieving Yoga Sequence
Stress Relieving Yoga Sequence
Next time you feel your body’s stress response turning on (heart rate increases, breathing quickens, muscles tighten) you can turn to these postures to help bring relief.
This sequence includes a mix of standing postures and an inversion option. Standing postures in yoga help you feel grounded into the earth. When you bring attention to the connection your feet make with the floor it can help your entire body relax. Inversions are any posture where the heart, hips, and legs are above the head. Inversions boost circulatory and respiratory systems and help relieve stress.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Begin standing with your palms together at your heart or palms facing forward at your sides with your arms relaxed. Feet can be close together with toes touching or hip width apart (whichever feels more balanced). Stand tall as you visualize a string pulling you from the top of your head to the sky. Press your shoulder blades together into your back. Feel your feet grounding into the earth and evenly distribute weight in your feet. Inhale through your nose and exhale through your mouth. Take 3 cleansing deep breaths.
Upward Mountain (Urdhva Hastasana)
Inhale, and move your arms out in a wide arc and up toward the sky. Lift through your abdomen and press your feet firmly to the ground. You can press your palms together in prayer position or to maintain length in your neck you can keep your hands shoulder width apart. Gaze to your thumbs.
Forward Fold/Intense Stretch Posture (Uttanasana)
Slowly and completely exhale, folding deeply from your hips and releasing your arms out to either side of you in a wide arc. If your fingers do not reach the floor with your legs straight bend your knees and place your hands on your ankles or shins. Maintain connection between your torso and the tops of your thighs. Relax your neck and shoulders and extend the crown of your head down.
Hug Knees to Forehead
Inhale and lower your sit bones to the floor. Bend your knees and wrap your arms around your legs below your knees. Clasp opposite elbows. Bring your forehead to your knees. Breathe deeply in this nurturing position that promotes a feeling of self-love.
Inversion of your Choice
An inversion is any posture where the heart, hips, and legs are above (or over) the head. Benefits include improving cardiovascular and lymphatic circulation, mood, and sleep. You don’t need to be able to do a headstand to be able to enjoy the benefits of inversions. Here are three stress-reducing inversion options.
Option 1: Bridge / Upward Bow Posture Moderated (Urdhva Dhanurasana Moderated)
Begin lying on your back with your feet flat on the mat and knees straight up toward the ceiling. Knees in line with hips and heels as close to buttocks as possible. Inhale, press down firmly into your feet and lift your pelvis high without clenching your buttock muscles. Palms can press into the mat at your sides or interlace your fingers on the ground behind your back.
Option 2: Waterfall
Setup like you would for Bridge but instead of lifting your hips as high as you can just lift them high enough to slide a block underneath your sacrum (the hard, bony triangle of fused vertebrae at the bottom of your spine)—fully supporting your pelvis. With the back of your head, shoulders, arms, and hands on the floor, bring one knee at a time toward your chest and lengthen both legs straight up as if you were planting the bottom of your feet on the ceiling. If hamstrings are tight, or if this places any strain on your lower back, feel free to keep the knees bent.
To release the pose, bend both knees and place both feet back down on the floor. Press firmly down into your feet to lift the hips up and slide the block out from underneath your sacrum.
Option 3: Legs-Up-the-Wall (Viparita Karani)
Begin laying on your back with your knees bent and feet on the wall. Shift your weight from side-to-side and scoot your buttocks close to the wall. Let your arms rest open at your sides, palms facing up. It’s not necessary for your sit bones to touch the wall. However, you should be in a position where you can fully relax your legs and don’t feel like you are holding them up.
Savasana (Corpse Pose)
Allow the feet to open wider than the hips and the arms to come out about 45 degrees from the body, palms facing upwards. Let the center of the back of your head press into the floor as the whole body relaxes. No tension in the body, the breath, or the mind. This is the easiest pose to “do” but the hardest pose in yoga to master.
Keep practicing! Click here to see the schedule of upcoming classes at HEAL Yoga or contact us at (801) 436-7680 to learn more about yoga for stress relief.
Heal Yoga Studio in Ogden, Utah specializes in yoga for the individual even in a group setting. We believe that to heal the world, we must first heal ourselves.
Morgan Byrne is an instructor at Heal Yoga Studio and a RYT 200 hr Yoga Alliance certified teacher. She received her training at Sampoorna Yoga in Goa, India.