Five Yoga Poses for Stress Relief

High stress levels can slow or prevent weight loss, so stress management is important—not only to achieving and maintaining a healthy weight, but for your health in general.

When practiced regularly, yoga has great power to relieve stress and tension. Regular practice could be 1-2 classes a week at a gym or yoga studio, or it could be doing a 10 minute YouTube video three times a week at home. Many find yoga most relaxing when calming music or nature sounds accompany the practice.

The most vital part of yoga is the breath. You want to make sure you’re breathing solely from the abdomen. To practice yoga breathing for stress relief, lie down in a comfortable place. Try to relax your face, shoulders, and the rest of your body. Place your hands on your belly, and prepare to breathe through your nose. Inhale for four seconds, and exhale for eight seconds. Your belly should raise or “inflate” when you inhale, and should lower or “deflate” when you exhale. The chest should not move—focus on the air entering and leaving the diaphragm. Yoga breath is louder than regular breathing, but many consider the sound relaxing.

To increase your stress relief, adopt the mindset of being mindful, or focusing on the present moment as you go through the poses. Focus on the music that might be playing, on your breath, on the sensations in your body, gratitude for your body, etc. Push away thoughts of what happened yesterday or your to do list this evening.

Here are five yoga poses to do (while practicing the breath described above), that will help relieve stress and tension:

     #1 Child’s Pose is often used as a resting pose in yoga in between other poses; however, it’s a great position to focus on your breath and on the present moment.

#2 Bridge Pose lengthens and strengthens the spine.

#3 Cat Pose to Cow Pose, or Cat-Cow, helps to relieve back and neck tension.

#4 Standing Forward Bend stretches your hamstrings and can relieve tension in the neck and shoulders.

#5 Legs Up the Wall is an especially easy, refreshing pose. You will need two blankets to use as cushions and a wall space that is clean and clear.

If you’re wanting to check out more yoga poses for stress relief, look up Downward Dog, Extended Triangle Pose, and Happy Baby. Or search for videos online on “yoga for stress relief”.

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