Poses for Stress Relief
June 4, 2020
Navigating the new normal can stir up the entire spectrum of human emotion. You might find yourself experiencing waves of unpleasant feelings – stress, sadness, anger, frustration – and that’s okay. It’s healthy to allow yourself to feel and process what’s happening internally to create space to feel something different.
The practice of yoga helps you connect your physical and subtle bodies. If you need a physical channel to relieve tension and stress, try these poses:
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
You’ve probably heard instructors refer to child’s pose as a resting pose – a home base that’s okay to return to at any point in your practice if needed. To come into child’s pose, from a kneeling position, sink your sitting bones toward your heels, walk your arms toward the front edge of your mat, and allow your forehead to rest down. Breathing calmly here helps you quiet your mind while alleviating tension and anxiety.
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Uttanasana, usually used as a transition during sun salutations, can be held for several breaths for the purpose of stress relief. Sometimes called ragdoll pose, uttanasana can be done with your feet hips’ width apart and a soft bend in your knees. Allow your torso drape over your thighs and let your arms hang free. You can also hold onto opposite elbows or create a fist at your back, wrapping it toward the front edge of your mat to add a shoulder stretch. This pose helps release the backline of your body while calming the mind and reversing blood flow, making you feel more relaxed.
Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
It might sound strange that a standing balance pose can release tension, but eagle essentially helps you wring stress from your body – making this an active way to relieve stress. Eagle is performed standing, with one thigh wrapped tightly over the other and one arm wound beneath the other. If your right leg is on top, your right arm is on the bottom. Fix your gaze at a steady point, breathe, and hug your inner thighs together as well as the points where your arms are touching. Garudasana is an excellent shoulder stretch (you’ve probably heard in class that we carry tension in our shoulders), and the focus needed to stay steady in balance can center the mind.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Corpse pose is the final asana of the physical practice. Savasana is meant to cultivate a sense of pure relaxation, allowing both the body and mind to rest and find ease for several minutes. Resting in the corpse pose slows your breathing and heart rate, hopefully quieting the nervous system and helping you find calm.
You’ll experience many of these poses in our classes at Uptown Yoga. Set an intention to focus on releasing stress as you practice, and you’ll find that by the time you’re in savasana you may feel lighter and less tense. Whether you’re taking class in-person in our studios or at home with us online, your practice is a useful tool to help you cope with uncomfortable feelings.