While most benefits of yoga are physical, a few poses or asanas can offer a plethora of mental health advantages too. That includes stress relief and improved happiness while improving overall well-being.
Yoga promotes physical and mental relaxation, reducing anxiety and stress. This mind-body practice controls the stress response, which activates physiological changes and helps the mind to calm down. These poses can help ease tension and stress, relaxing the body and clearing the mind.
These asanas combine specific stress-reducing techniques, exercises, and breathing patterns to relax the body. They also alleviate physical blockages from the body, which helps release tension and pent-up emotions.
Simple Yoga Poses to Reduce Stress
Get started with the following five poses to relieve stress and anxiety:
1) Cat-cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
It's an easy yoga asana that connects your movements to your breath and helps release tension.
To do this pose:
- Start the asana in a tabletop position, with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips.
- Inhale, and allow your stomach to move towards the floor while keeping your gaze up and arching your back.
- Move your chin towards your chest, and slowly curve your spine towards the ceiling.
- Continue alternating between these two postures for a few seconds.
2) Legs up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
The legs up the wall pose offers deep calmness and relaxation and also boosts blood circulation and lymph flow.
To do this pose:
- Sit straight on the mat facing a wall, and keep your body close to the wall.
- Lie down on your back, and position your legs up the wall, keeping your knees straight.
- Place your hips a few inches away or next to the wall and arms by your sides. You may also keep one hand on your stomach and the other on your chest.
- Maintain this position, and hold the pose for a few minutes.
3) Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
This pose gently stretches the hips, hamstrings, and thighs. It's effective for reducing fatigue and stress.
To do this asana:
- Stand tall, and slowly bend forward with your knees slightly bent and palms touching the floor. If you can’t touch the floor, simply wrap your arms around your ankles, and hold.
- Position your head against your legs, and make sure the spine is straight. For a deeper stretch, straighten your legs.
- Hold this posture for a few seconds, and stretch your arms out. Lift them up, and move your torso back to return to the starting position.
4) Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
The happy baby pose is a simple asana that helps calm the mind and also aids in alleviating anxiety and fatigue. It offers a gentle stretch to the spine and groin.
To do this pose:
- Lie down on your back, and keep your legs extended and arms by the sides.
- Bend the knees towards your stomach, and stretch your hands towards the ceiling at the same time.
- Hold your feet, and open your knees wide while maintaining this posture for a few seconds.
- Slowly lower your hands and legs back to the starting position, and repeat a few times.
5) Corpse Pose (Savasana)
The easiest yet most relaxing asana, the corpse pose calms the mind and allows the body to let go all the tension and stress.
To do this yoga asana:
- Lie straight on your back on the mat, with the feet wider than hip-width distance.
- Keep your toes out to the side, and position your arms alongside your side at a 45-degree angle.
- Make sure your neck, shoulders, and head are properly aligned with your spine.
- Maintaining this posture, breathe deeply, and allow your body and mind to relax.
- Stay in the pose for as long as you can.
Yoga can be really effective when it comes to calming the mind and improving well-being. However, to get the most out of the asanas, focus on your form, and learn to concentrate on the present.
Breathe deeply throughout each movement, and allow the postures and your breath to align with each other. As always, consult your physical therapist before starting a yoga routine, especially if you are on any medication or have any health concern.
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