While any amount of yoga will be relaxing, there are a few extra zen-inducing poses you can drop into whenever you’re on edge. These stress-relieving moves not only help you feel calm and centered, but some quite literally help release tension from your body.

Yoga, in general, helps relieve stress and discomfort in your muscles and mind, says Brandt Passalacqua, the founder, director, and lead teacher at Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy. “By stretching and strengthening your muscles, you can help your body feel better,” he tells Bustle. “Yoga also allows you to regulate your nervous system response, encouraging restful reactions over fight-or-flight reactions.”

It’s why so many people turn to yoga to stay centered and grounded — two things that feel even more important when your brain is in overdrive. “Many yoga practices begin with mindfulness techniques to keep you present,” he says. “This can help you relax and keep your mind from wandering or focusing on stressful thoughts.”

Focusing on your breath — which is fundamental in yoga — is the icing on the mind-and-body-calming cake. Passalacqua says all the purposeful inhaling and exhaling that happens during yoga helps stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system to put you in a restful state. “Even just trying a few yoga poses when you’re having a stressful day can help,” he adds. Here, trainers share the 10 most stress-relieving yoga poses to try.

1. Camel Pose

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Camel pose may be tricky, but it’s worth a try for the way it relieves stress. “As a backbend, it helps to open up your chest and encourages the release of pent-up emotions, energy, or stress,” Passalacqua explains. “It can also help stretch your chest and back if you hunch your posture while stressed.”

– Kneel on your yoga mat.

– Keep your knees hip-width apart and the rest of your body upright.

– As you inhale, raise your chest and arch your back while keeping your thighs straight up.

– Keep leaning back until you can place the palms of your hands on your heels, if possible.

– Allow your head to tilt back until you’re facing the ceiling.

– Hold for 30 to 60 seconds.

2. Seated Forward Fold

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When you’re stressed, tension starts to build up in your shoulders, back, hips, and hamstrings. By purposefully releasing these areas with a seated forward fold, Passalacqua says it can promote feelings of comfort and mindfulness.

– Sit on your yoga mat.

– Extend your legs straight out in front of you.

– Lift your arms and point them toward the ceiling.

– Fold from your hips, bringing your torso over your legs.

– Stretch through the length of your back rather than hunching to reach your toes.

– Hold your legs or grab your feet with your hands, depending on how far you can reach.

– Hold for one to two minutes as you breathe.

3. Legs Up The Wall

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According to Kate Lombardo, a yoga director and instructor at YogaRenew Teacher Training, this pose reduces swelling in your legs and ankles, and it can also help quiet your mind, making it easier to sleep. It’s a good one to do as part of your evening routine.

– Lie down on your back and take your legs to the wall.

– Let the wall fully support the weight of your legs.

– Bring your hands to your belly and focus on your breath.

– Stay for three to five minutes, or longer if you have the time.

4. Warrior I

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For another grounding yoga pose, Passalacqua recommends trying warrior I. This strengthening posture feels empowering, stabilizing, and relaxing all at the same time.

– Step your right foot forward.

– Bend your front knee 90 degrees.

– Move your back heel so your foot is at a 45-degree angle to the side of your mat.

– Keep your back leg straight.

– Inhale and stretch both arms up overhead.

– Bring your hands together and look up.

– Hold for five to 10 breaths.

– Repeat on the other side.

5. Warrior II

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A slightly different variation called warrior II lights up your arms and legs to help you focus on your body and feel more present, Passalacqua says. Try it whenever you need to chill.

– Step your right foot forward.

– Bend your right knee into a lunge.

– Turn your back foot 45-degrees.

– Keep your front knee over your ankle.

– Extend your right arm out in front of you.

– Reach your left arm back.

– Relax your shoulders.

– Gaze across your front fingers.

– Hold for five to 10 breaths.

– Repeat on the other side.

6. Hero Pose

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“This pose is fabulous to sit comfortably to meditate,” says Whitney Berger, a certified yoga instructor, personal trainer, and founder of WhitFit NYC. Drop into it whenever you need to check in with yourself.

– Find a seat on the ground.

– Keep your knees together and your heels on under your bum.

– Sit on a cushion or blanket for more space or support.

– Rest your hands on your knees.

– Inhale your chest up to lengthen the spine.

– Picture the crown of your head going up to the sky and your tailbone sinking down towards the ground.

– Keep your hips square.

– Take deep breaths.

7. Butterfly Pose

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Butterfly pose is ideal for stretching the hips, says Berger, which are known to hang onto emotions and stress. It’s also a nice opener for the lower body, so it’s a win-win.

– Sit with your knees bent.

– Bring the soles of your feet together and towards your groin.

– Inhale your chest up.

– Place blocks under your knees for support.

– Reach your arms forward and bring your forehead towards the mat.

– Hold for several breaths.

8. Mountain Pose

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“This pose really helps with feeling grounded, as your feet are planted to the earth,” Berger says. “I like to imagine under my feet little roots are being planted to the around.”

– Stand with your feet together or apart — up to you.

– Rest your hands by your sides.

– Externally rotate your shoulders so your palms face the front.

– Stand tall.

– Inhale your chest up.

– Ground down into the four corners of your feet, your toes, and heels.

9. Child’s Pose

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Lombardo is a fan of child’s pose to release tension in the neck and shoulders. It’s an easy yet super beneficial stretch to do, especially at the end of a long day. “It can be a really great way to wind down and move into a more relaxed and calming evening routine,” she tells Bustle.

– Start on all fours.

– Take your big toes to touch and your knees out wide.

– Shift your hips towards your heels.

– Reach your arms out in front of you to lengthen your spine.

– Breathe into the sides of your chest.

– Release your heart down towards the floor.

– Stay in this pose for one to two minutes.

10. Savasana

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Also known as corpse pose, “savasana often comes at the end of a yoga sequence to help you rest and relax,” Passalacqua says. “This pose is great for calming your mind and body on a deeper level.” It involves resting motionless on your back — and what could be more relaxing than that?

– Lie on your back.

– Spread your arms and legs slightly away from your body, resting them on the mat.

– Add a pillow wherever you need extra support.

– Close your eyes and slow your breathing.

– Focus on being present in your body.

– Hold for three to five minutes.

Studies referenced:

Chen, L. (2020). Posture and Time Arrangement Influence Shank Circumference Reduction When Performing Leg Raising Exercise. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 17(16). doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17165735

Lundberg, U. (1999). Psychophysiological stress responses, muscle tension, and neck and shoulder pain among supermarket cashiers. J Occup Health Psychol. 1999 Jul;4(3):245-55. doi: 10.1037//1076-8998.4.3.245. PMID: 10431284.

Maddux, RE. (2018). The effects of yoga on stress and psychological health among employees: an 8- and 16-week intervention study. Anxiety Stress Coping. doi: 10.1080/10615806.2017.1405261.

Shobana, R. (2022). Effect of long-term yoga training on autonomic function among the healthy adults. J Family Med Prim Care. doi: 10.4103/jfmpc.jfmpc_199_21.

Wang, F. (2020). Effects of Yoga on Stress Among Healthy Adults: A Systematic Review. Altern Ther Health Med. PMID: 32088671.

Experts:

Brandt Passalacqua, founder, director, lead teacher at Breathing Deeply Yoga Therapy

Kate Lombardo, yoga director, instructor at YogaRenew Teacher Training

Whitney Berger, certified yoga instructor, personal trainer, founder of WhitFit NYC

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