It’s no secret that yoga does wonders for stress relief. This is due to both mindful yoga postures and yoga’s slow, rhythmic way of breathing. Both deactivate the sympathetic nervous system and activate the parasympathetic nervous system. In essence, yoga assures the nervous system that the body isn’t under threat. It’s then able to break free from the detrimental fight-or-flight cycle caused by stress.
Take advantage of yoga’s stress-relieving wonders with this short and sweet sequence. Watch the full yoga sequence in this video, or check out the steps below.
The mantra om resonates throughout the body, harmonizing inner vibrations that are out of whack.
Many of us tense our neck and shoulders when we are feeling stressed. Releasing this physical tension in turn releases mental tension.
Lion pose (Simhasana) relieves tension in the chest and face—two more areas that we commonly grip with stress. To begin, kneel down on the ground, cross your ankles, and sit back on your heels. Press your hands against your knees with fingers spread wide. Inhale through the nose, open the mouth, and stretch your tongue out toward your chin. Then exhale slowly and powerfully, making the “ha” sound.
This exercise helps to find the slow, rhythmic way of breathing that stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. Inhale into Cow pose by arching the back and reaching the crown of your head toward the sky. Then exhale as you move into Cat pose, rounding the back and dropping your head toward the mat.
From Cat pose, drop the hips and sit back on the heels. Touch the big toes together, hinge at the hips, and fold forward over your thighs. Extend the arms alongside your torso, and rest your forehead on the mat. With the third eye chakra (ajna) touched to the earth, Child’s pose (Balasana) gives a feeling of groundedness.
Spinal twists like Supta Matsyendrasana soothe the nerves and rejuvenate the mind. Lie down on your back, bring your right knee into your chest, and then draw the knee across the left side of your body. Rest your bent leg on the ground. Extend your right arm out to the side and allow your gaze to follow. Repeat on the opposite side.
Following your twists, return to a neutral position on your back and prepare for Savasana. Rotate your awareness throughout the body, relaxing each body part from the toes to the head.
Anuloma viloma, or alternate nostril breathing quickly relieves stress. This pranayama exercise balances the two hemisphere of the brain, giving an immediate feeling of peace.