Yoga involves deep breathing, stilling the mind, and focusing solely on the postures. The ancient practice combines mindfulness and meditation with gentle movement for a flow that’s mentally soothing and stress-reducing. While the benefits of yoga are limitless, it stimulates hormones in the brain and heals the nervous system, which works to calm your mind and relax your body.
If you’ve had a particularly stressful day, or find yourself overcome with anxiety in the moment, certain poses are especially helpful at getting rid of stress and anxiety (sometimes almost immediately). Set up a space for yourself away from any noise and clutter, diffuse some essential oils, play relaxing music, and go through these yoga poses if you need to de-stress. Or, if you’re feeling particularly distressed, pick one of these poses to resort to as a go-to anxiety reducer. Stay calm and yoga on:
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This basic yoga pose is known as a place of rest during yoga practice; as a pose to come to if the movement becomes to difficult. It also helps to release tension in the back, neck, and shoulders, which are the main areas we hold onto stress. The compression of your body also requires you to breathe deeply — a known way to reduce anxiety and stress.
Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
This one’s as simple as it sounds — put your mat against a wall, place your tailbone as close to the wall as possible, and relax with your legs straight up the wall. This pose is great for many things, including helping menstrual cramps, lowering blood pressure, and reducing insomnia. Having your legs above your heart also helps to relieve anxiety, letting stress and tension in your body melt away. If you suffer from back pain, place a pillow or blanket under your back and breathe deeply, keeping your legs straight.
Camel Pose (Ultrasana)
Camel pose enhances blood circulation, which means your body is getting more oxygen. Allowing more oxygen in your body calms your nervous system, as well as your mind and body. Taking deep breaths in camel pose will also accelerate anxiety relief. It’s an energizing pose, so it will give you the energy to tackle the rest of your day with much less stress. However, this pose is very powerful and can feel intense. Make sure to sit on your knees with one hand to the ground and breathe deeply before moving.
Seated Lotus Pose (Padmasana)
Sitting cross-legged ensures that your spine is tall and your shoulders are relaxed, which helps your lungs fill with more air. Feeling grounded and close to the earth will help feelings of anxiety or panic attacks, and also helps with tension in the lower back, which is one of the main areas people hold tension and stress.
Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
Going in forward fold position works to relieve headaches and calm the mind, since all the blood flow is rushing to your head. This position also stretches out your lower back and hips, and forces your shoulders to relax. Grab your elbows and sway side to side to release tension in your upper body.
While it seems difficult, the headstand pose has incredible anxiety reducing benefits. Being upside down will stimulate blood flow to your head, which causes detoxification of the adrenals. This detoxification is known to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. This pose also requires concentration, specifically focusing on your core and breath. Focusing on these areas of your body naturally calms any stress and works as a form of meditation. If you can’t reach full headstand, dolphin pose will offer the same benefits.