Yoga is one of the best stress management tools out there. It allows you to calm your mind, release built up tension, and allows you to become more resilient when those recurring stress triggers pop back up.
By transferring focus and attention to the body and breath, yoga can help to dampen anxiety, while also releasing physical tension. Yoga can help lower your blood pressure, provide relief from chronic back pain, and of course, relieve symptoms of anxiety and depression.
While there are many different yoga poses to reduce stress and tension, there are certain ones that have a particularly great effect at doing so.
10 Yoga Poses to Reduce Stress and Tension
Ready to unwind your mind? Scroll down to see the sequence of yoga poses to reduce stress, tension and promote mental relaxation. You can do them in the morning, at night, or whenever you have a spare 10 minutes in your day. These poses may help you feel relaxed right away, but by making a habit of these stretches, you’ll get more out of them.
Remember that with all stretching sequences, to always take your time, and never push yourself to the point of extreme pain. Being a little uncomfortable is how you’re supposed to feel when stretching, but never go past that point. Always breathe deeply, too. Breathing is an essential component of successful stretching.
Remember, yoga is a practice, not a competition.
1. Eagle Pose
1. You can do this pose either standing up or sitting on the heels.
2. Take your right elbow on top of the left, making sure the right elbow is snug into the crook of the left.
3. Wrap the arms around each other, clasping your fingers together or taking your palms together if you can manage.
4. Squeeze the elbows together, and relax the shoulders away from the ears, lifting the elbows up to shoulder height as you gently move the hands away from yourself.
5. Drop the chin slightly toward the chest, and breathe for 5-10 deep breaths.
6. Release and repeat on the other side. This can be done 2-3 times on each arm.
2. Child’s Pose
1. Kneel on the floor, touching your big toes together.
2. Sit back on your heels and separate your knees hip-width apart.
3. Exhale, brining your head down, and rest it on the floor in front of you.
4. Place your hands wherever they are comfortable by your sides, or outstretched in front of you.
5. Relax and breathe, holding the pose for 30-60 seconds.
3. Corpse Pose
1. Sit on the floor with both of your feet flat on the floor.
2. Use your arms to gently lie down on the floor. Do it slowly, one bit at a time.
3. Align your head, neck and spine, and tuck your tailbone towards the navel, so that your lower back sinks towards the floor.
4. Relax your hip and leg muscles, letting your feet naturally fall outwards. Press your shoulders down so that your arms naturally open to the sides. Your elbows will rotate so that your elbow joints face upwards.
5. Rest your hands away from your body, turning your palms up and towards the ceiling. Tuck your chin slightly to lengthen the back of your neck. Close your eyes, relax your tongue and focus on your breath.
6. You can stay in this pose for as long as you want – stay here for at least 5 minutes.
4. Triangle Pose
1. Inhale and straighten your front left leg.
2. Extend your left hand toward the front of the room, lowering it down toward your shin or ankle. If you’re more open, bring your left hand down to the floor on the inside or on the left foot.
3. Reach your right fingertips towards the ceiling, opening up your chest while doing so.
4. Bring your gaze up towards your right fingertips.
5. Repeat on the other side.
5. Bridge Pose
1. Lying on your back, bend your knees and place your feet flat on the floor hip-width apart. Slide your arms alongside your body, with your palms facing down (fingertips should lightly touch the heels).
2. Press your feet into the floor, and on an inhale, lift your hips, rolling your spine off the floor. Keep your knees hip-width apart.
3. Press into your arms and shoulders to lift your chest and engage your legs and buttocks to lift your hips higher.
4. Hold this position for 4-8 breaths, then release on an exhale, slowly rolling your spine back to the floor.
6. Standing Forward Bend
1. From a standing position, feet hip-width apart, exhale forward and bend the knees enough to bring your palms flat to the floor with your head pressed against your legs. If this is too deep, just bend as far as you can go.
2. Feel your spine stretching in opposite directions, while pressing your hips up. Straighten the legs fully to deepen the stretch (if you can, that is. This is difficult even for extremely flexible people like myself!).
3. Hold for 4-8 deep breaths, bend the knees and then slowly roll your torso back up, vertebrae by vertebrae.
7. Puppy Pose
1. Start on all fours with your shoulders stacked over your wrists, hips stacked over your knees and the tops of your feet relaxed down on the mat.
2. Slowly walk your hands out, lowering your chest towards the ground. Keep your hips over your knees and arms shoulder-distance apart. Gently release your forehead to the ground.
3. Activate your arms by pressing your palms down and lifting your elbows and forearms away from the ground. Then, draw your shoulder blades onto your back and reach your hips up toward the ceiling.
4. Allow your neck to relax, and breathe into your back, lengthening the spine in both directions.
5. Remain here for 5-10 breaths, then gently lift your forehead and walk your palms back towards the body, returning to all fours.
8. Cat Pose
1. Start with your hands and knees on the floor, palms directly under the shoulder rand knees directly below the hips.
2. Breathe in and pull your abdominal muscles in as you arch your back up like a stretching cat. Let your head and tailbone drop down toward the floor.
3. Return to the initial position, and then extend the upper part of the spine upwards, supporting it with your abdominal muscles and not letting your neck sink into your shoulders, or your shoulders crunch up into your neck. Make sure your neck is a long extension of your spine, and don’t let the head fall back.
4. Return to starting position and repeat 5 times.
9. Dolphin Pose
1. Starting on all fours, lower your forearms to the floor, tucking your toes under and lifting the hips towards the ceiling.
2. Place your hands shoulder-width apart, with fingers spread wide.
3. Press your forearms, fingers, and palms into the floor and press your hips up and back while keeping a straight spine.
4. Keep your feet hips-width apart with your toes facing forward. Press your heels into the floor.
5. Let your head and neck hang freely.
6. Remain in the pose for 2-6 breaths and then come out of the pose.
10. Legs Up The Wall Pose
1. Sit on the floor with your hips against the wall and roll onto your back, bringing your legs up the wall.
2. Your buttocks should be pressed as close to the wall as possible.
3. Sit here for about 5 minutes, focusing on deep belly breaths.