Yoga Sequence & Meditation Tips to Relieve Stress/Anxiety
Stress and anxiety are ever present in our world. It seems like there is no way around it. Many people have stressful jobs or jobs that require long hours which can create stress. Other's have relationships or home environments that create anxiety or stress. Health problems can also create stress or anxiety. This yoga sequence for stress and anxiety relief will help create a calming and relaxing environment for the body and mind. Breath alone can help lower blood pressure and allows for calm within the cells of the body. Practicing any form of yoga can help move prana (breath) through the body. Even when the practitioner isn't really focusing on breath, the body recognizes it and uses the breath to calm and steady the mind and body. Most yoga teachers will give students cues on when to breathe and some even start classes off with breathing exercises. To relieve stress in any situation, even if you aren't sitting in a yoga class, focus on the breath. Take a few moments to fully inhale and exhale, maybe even close your eyes.
Breath and Meditation Tips for Stress and Anxiety Relief
Taking a few moments to breathe fully into the torso (the diaphragm, belly, mid and upper chest) will instantly soothe the body and mind. Breathing is something you can take with you and do anywhere. It can be done with three-ten simple breaths or it can be done for a few minutes to hours. This leads right into meditation.
Meditation can seem overwhelming or maybe even seem kind of "hippie" however with a few simple tips, you can do it and who cares if it is a little hippie. If your mind and body can benefit from meditation why not try it? Meditation doesn't have to mean sitting on a pillow in a corner with a candle and soft music or silence. Meditation can be taking a few moments to close your eyes and breath. The focus of stress and anxiety meditation is to allow the mind to be in the present and to be still. Meditation can be going out for a run or hike. If it clears your mind and you can enjoy and notice things around you, it's meditation.
Here I am talking about sitting for a few moments in a quiet place (it can even be your desk at work, a bench outside, your bedroom or living room) to sit and breath. Again, this can be for a few breaths or can last for a few moments. Take the time to focus on breathing in and out. Next take some time to focus on sending the breath throughout the body. Using the breath to relax the muscles, bones and organs. After taking as much time as you can afford, gently open your eyes and sit still for a moment, taking everything in. Noticing how you feel, what you feel and where you are in the present moment.
Yoga Sequence for Stress and Anxiety Relief
The following sequence can be used to have a slower paced practice, focusing on each muscle movement and the breath throughout the poses. By refocusing the mind (even for a short practice) it can aid in taking your mind off the stressor and allows the cells within the body to feel relief. Practice each pose by holding for at least 5 breaths and slowly move on to the next. You can always warm the body up with some sun salutations before beginning this practice.
Gentle Cat/Cow pose (Bitilasana/Marjaiasana): Come to hands and knees, making sure wrists are in line with the shoulders and knees are in line with the hips. Begin to inhale, dropping the belly down, gazing up. On the exhale, round through the back, brining the chin toward the chest. Continue to move through cow and cat poses with the breath.
Standing forward bend (Uttanasana): From hands and knees, start to pick the hips up on an exhale, coming into downward facing dog pose. Hold here for a few minutes, then on an inhale, walk the hands toward the feet. Folding at the belly, slightly bending the knees if needed and holding here.
Big Toe Pose (Padangusthasana): Come back to Uttanasana, walk the hands to the shins as you gaze forward on an inhale. Exhale and release the hands to the mat, walking the feet out to hip width. Inhale, using the peace fingers and thumb to grab the big toes. Exhale releasing the torso and fold.
Dolphin Plank: Walking the hands out from Padangusthasana, on an exhale as you come into plank pose. Pause for a moment, inhaling. On your exhale, walk down to the forearms and hold, scooping the hips up.
Child's Pose (Balasana): Come to downward facing dog pose, inhale and bend the knees toward the mat. On your exhale, reach the hips back toward the heels, bringing your forehead toward the mat. Resting the torso on the thighs and breathing here.
Boat Pose (Navasana): Gently make your way to sitting on your mat, with knees bent and the soles of the feet working into the mat. Pull your bellybutton in toward your spine and as you exhale, lean back to where you find a balancing spot on the sitting bones. Stay here or pick up the feet, keeping knees bent. Hold here, breathing and pulling the belly in.
Handstand (Adho Mukha Vrksasana): Make your way into downward facing dog pose, holding for a few breaths (you may want to have your head and front of your mat near a wall-as pictured). On an inhale, begin to walk the feet toward your hands, as you engage your abdomen. Check to make sure your hands are as wide as your shoulders, spreading through the fingers. Begin to kick the feet up, and hold in handstand as long as you can or for about five to ten breaths. Release the legs down and come to child's pose.
Plow Pose (Halasana): From Child's pose, come to hands and knees, crossing the ankles to make your way to sitting. Once you are sitting release the body down onto the mat, laying on your back. Hug the knees in toward your chest for a few breaths. Release the arms down to the mat, alongside the body, extending the legs up toward the sky. Gently press the arms and hands into the mat on an inhale, as you lift the hips up. Bring the legs down toward the head on an exhale, keeping the legs working toward straight.
Corpse Pose (Savasana): Coming out of plow, hug the knees in toward the chest, rocking from side to side to resent the spine. Once you feel ready, extend the legs long on the mat, walking the heels to hip width and allowing the toes to drop open to the sides. Place your arms near your body, palms facing up and close your eyes. Breathe here for a few breaths allowing each breath the let the body sink into the mat. Relax fully and stay here as long as you can.
Disclaimer: The information on this website (Alt Yoga Vibe) is for informational purposes only and does not substitute for medical treatment or hands on instruction. If you are experiencing any severe pain or symptoms, please consult a healthcare practitioner.
"Hatha Yoga Illustrated" by Martin Kirk, Brooke Boon and Daniel DiTuro