Yoga can be an incredible tool for calming stress and anxiety. Adding even a short yoga sequence to your daily routine can help you stay centered and free of pervasive anxious thinking. Practicing in the morning will help you start your day from a place of calm and clarity. Practicing in the evening will help you decompress from the stresses of daily life.
How does it work? Yoga activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the body and mind. A regular yoga practice also allows you the time to disconnect from the world and connect to your breath, both of which can be invaluable for maintaining a state of inner calm.
This is my favorite yoga flow for anxiety relief. It can be done any time you begin to feel anxious or stressed: morning, noon, or night.
Forward fold will release the tension in your lower back and upper thighs. It also helps you to turn off the world for a few moments as your energy draws inward.
Stand in mountain pose with both feet planted firmly on the ground, hands on your hips. Exhale and slowly fold forward from your hip joints, lengthening the front of your torso. Bend your elbows and hold on to each elbow with opposite hand. Lightly sway from side to side if it feels good. Hold for at least 1 minute.
This pose draws all of your energy down, which will help you to feel more grounded and less anxious. Start with your feet hip-width apart or more—the important thing is that your heels are flat and your toes point out. Lower your hips so that your body sits between your thighs. You can use blocks for extra support. Place your hands at heart center and hold for 10 deep breaths.
Cow Face Pose With Eagle Arms
Many of us suffer from tight necks, backs, and shoulders due to all of the time we spend on the computer and on our phones. This pose will help ease all of the tension that you've been holding on to in your upper body all day.
Starting on all fours, cross your right knee over your left, stacking one on top of the other. Open your feet to the sides and gently ease your hips to the floor. Extend your arms to the sides and swing your right arm underneath your left arm. Firmly press your forearms together, lifting your elbows, keeping them parallel to the floor. Press your palms together. Hold this pose for 1 minute, then repeat with arms and legs reversed.
Your hips hold on to an incredible amount of emotional tension. This pose will help you release the stresses of the day and even things that have built up over weeks or years.
Starting in downward-facing dog, bring your right knee forward and place it in line with your right hand. Your ankle should be in line with your left hand, your shin parallel to the front of your mat. Extend your left leg back and rest your knee and top of foot on the ground. Square your hips and fold forward resting your forehead on your hands. Hold for 2 to 5 minutes on each side.
This is the ultimate calming pose. Sit back, breathe, and turn off the world for a few minutes. After you practice this pose, you will feel much more balanced both physically and mentally.
Sit on the floor with your knees wide and your toes touching. Lower your belly between your thighs and rest your forehead on the floor. Extend your arms, facing your palms down, and lengthen from your hips through your fingertips. Breathe gently in this pose and hold anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes.
This is my favorite restorative pose. Just a few minutes in reclined goddess will leave you feeling like a whole new person.
Lie back and bring the soles of your feet together as you let your knees relax open to the sides. Place your arms comfortably by your sides with your palms facing up. Breathe into the pose for anywhere from 2 to 30 minutes.
Legs Up the Wall
This simple inversion will help you to relieve stress and anxiety almost immediately. Lie on the floor and shuffle your tush close to wall as you slide your legs up the wall. Keep your legs straight and your feet flexed. Rest your shoulders and head on the floor. Lay your arms comfortably by your side, palms face-up. Close your eyes and rest for 5 to 10 minutes.
Meditation is one of the best tools for taking your head out of the chaos and to a place of calm clarity. Close your eyes. Take a deep inhale. Hold. Exhale slowly. Focus on your breath. For anxiety release, you can focus your inhale on areas where you feel that you have built up tension from the day—hips and shoulders are the most common areas of tension. On the exhale, imagine all of the tension releasing. Start with 5 to 20 minutes of daily meditation and continue to build your practice.
Once you complete the sequence, take a moment to tune in to your body. How do you feel? Are you still tense, or do you feel lighter? Are your thoughts less scattered and more clear? Do you feel energized? Did it bring up any additional emotions? Practicing this flow regularly will help you release anxiety on a more permanent level.
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