Yoga For Stress

Reduce stress and calm your mind with a regular yoga practice

Photos By Lorella Zanetti

Maintaining a regular yoga practice can be a great way to reduce stress for your body and your mind.   There are a variety of postures, or asanas, which promote whole body health.  Additionally, the stillness, concentration and deep breathing required for yoga can stimulate the parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system, moving your body and mind into a state of relaxation and calmness.

When you experience stressful thoughts, your sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight) is triggered.  Your breathing will change, become quicker and shallower.  This can make you feel stressed and anxious. At the same time, your body produces hormones and adrenaline.  In order to combat the body’s response to stress, start your yoga practice with some deep breathing before moving  on to other postures.

Breathing: Pranayama 

Benefits:

  • slows the heart rate
  • initiates the parasympathetic nervous system
  • slows the breath

Sit in a chair, with your back supported, and feet flat on the floor.  Spine relaxed, close your eyes, and inhale deeply, and slowly for a count of 6, on your own time.  Exhale slowly and with control for the same count of 6, at your own pace.

Forward Fold:  Uttanasana 

Photo, Lorella Zanetti; Grooming, David Allan Jones, Brodine, Judy Inc.

Benefits:

  • stretches the hips, hamstrings and calfs
  • keeps spine strong and flexible
  • calms the mind
  • relieves tension in spine, neck and back

Stand with your feet hip width apart, and a slight bend in your knees.  Gradually, roll forward, until you are hinged at the hips, with your torso hanging down.  Let your arms hang down, and relax your neck.  Let gravity help you out.  If you would like to add some movement, go ahead and gently bend each knee, alternating left and right.  Take deep, slow breaths and enjoy.

Child’s Pose: Balasana 

Photo, Lorella Zanetti; Hair & Make-Up, David Allan Jones, Brodine, Judy Inc.

Benefits

  • stretches hips, thighs, ankles
  • provides gentle stretching of back and spine
  • aids in digestion
  • calms the mind

Sit down kneeling, knees and feet together.  Place both hands on the floor in front of you, and slowly lower your upper body down until your forehead is resting on the floor.  Place your arms on the floor, either by the of your legs, or stretch out in front of you on the floor. Breath deeply and slowly.

Heart Melting: Anahatasana 

Benefits

  • backbend for upper and middle back
  • opens the shoulders
  • softens the heart

 Start on your hands and knees.  Walk your hands forward, allowing your chest to drop toward the floor.  Please make sure your hips stay stacked over your knees, and if possible, keep your hands at shoulder width.

 Cobra Pose: Bhujangasana 

Photo, Lorella Zanetti; Grooming, David Allan Jones, Brodine, Judy Inc.

Benefits

  • stretches muscles in shoulders and chest
  • decreases stiffness in lower back
  • strengthens arms and shoulders
  • strengthens back muscles
  • increases flexibility
  • firms and tones the buttocks

 Lie face down on the floor.  Bring your hands underneath your shoulders, very close to your chest, while keeping your elbows in close to the body.  Keep your legs and heels touching, with the tops of the feet flat on the floor.  Engage all leg muscles, and slowly, using your back strength, lift your upper body up of the floor.  Loop up and foward. Remember to breath!

Dead Body Pose: Savasana 

Photo, Lorella Zanetti; Grooming, David Allan Jones, Brodine, Judy Inc.

Benefits

  • relaxes whole body
  • release stress and tension
  • improves concentration
  • relates your muscles
  • calms your mind

Lie down on your back with your heels together, and let your toes fall open.  Rest your arms, straight, down by your side with the palms face up.  Close your eyes, and take deep breaths. Savasana is a great opportunity to acknowledge the sensations that are in your body, like the urge to fidget or move, and to dismiss them.  Find your stillness, and focus on your breath.

DISCLAIMER:

All topics covered are provide for informational purposes only.  It is general information that may not apply to you as an individual, and is not a substitute for your own doctor’s medical care or advice.  The contents should not be seen as health, nutrition, fitness, or medical advice.  Please consult with a medical professional before attempting any of the postures listed on the site (or this article). Never disregard medical advice or delay seeking medical care because of something you have ready on or accessed through this website.