6 Yoga Poses For Relaxation That Can Provide Instant Relief From Stress
Suffice it to say, there are some overwhelmingly stress-inducing events happening in the world right now. And because of that, many people are seeking moments of peace wherever they can — which can be difficult when you're still social distancing. Though you may not be able to travel, be in close proximity with friends and family, or blow off some steam at your go-to fitness studio, there are other effective ways to soothe those anxious feelings from home, including a few yoga poses for relaxation that you don't have to be a yogi to try.
While yoga is a physical practice, it is also historically a spiritual and emotional one — and its benefits for your mental health are widely recognized. Due to its meditative aspects, many people practice yoga to de-stress as much as they to do strengthen and stretch their body. That said, if you've previously not given yoga a try because you're uncertain about your flexibility, strength, or balance, it's helpful to know that you don't have to be an expert to reap some of the stress-relieving benefits.
And, much like meditation, one of the best things about practicing yoga is that you can do it from home (or anywhere for that matter), so it's both simple and accessible to just about everyone. Ready to give it a try? Ahead, find six instantly calming and grounding, beginner-friendly poses as recommended by Ava Johanna, a yoga teacher, breath and meditation coach, and host of The Alchemized Life podcast. When combined with Ujjayi Pranayama breathing — long, deep toning breaths through the nose — they can help you unplug from daily stressors and reconnect with yourself in a whole new way.
Yoga Pose For Relaxation: Reclined Bound Angle Pose
Supta Baddha Konasana, or Reclined Bound Angle pose requires you to lay on your back, soles of the feet touching, knees bent and dropped to either side, creating a diamond shape. "[This] is a restorative posture that opens the hips and the hearts," says Johanna to The Zoe Report. "By placing a palm on the heart and the belly, you will feel your breath begin to slow down and can deepen the inhale to originate in the lower abdomen. In doing so, the parasympathetic nervous system will activate bringing the brain and body back into a state of rest."
Yoga Pose For Relaxation: Mountain Pose
To get into Tadasna, or mountain pose, simply stand with feet about hip's width apart, head in line with your pelvis, and chin parallel to the floor. You can do this one with your upper body a few different ways, including hands in prayer position in front of the heart, or arms by your sides, palms facing forward and feeling a gentle stretch from your shoulders through your fingertips. "While this pose is done standing, the effects of grounding your feet into the earth (especially in grass) creates an instant calming effect," explains Johanna. "Visualize roots planting your feet into the earth to feel the grounding sensation of this foundational posture. Bring your palms to your heart and your belly, elongating the breath, to activate the relaxation response."
Yoga Pose For Relaxation: Corpse Pose
Savasana, or corpse pose, is traditionally done to close a yoga practice, because of its restorative benefits. "For total relaxation, lying in Savasana is a gentle and accessible way to feel the grounding and calming effects of restorative yoga," says Johanna. To make yourself even more comfortable, the yogi suggests placing a pillow under your knees, which can alleviate tension in the lower back and allow you to more deeply release.
Yoga Pose For Relaxation: Melting Heart Pose
Try Anahatasana, otherwise known as melting heart pose or extended puppy pose, by getting onto hands and knees, then walk your hands forward to feel a deep stretch in your upper back and shoulders while keeping the hips above the knees and pressing the heart towards the floor. "During stressful times, by allowing our heart to melt into the earth, you will feel a grounding sensation as you breathe deeply into the full torso," Johanna explains.
Yoga Pose For Relaxation: Easy Pose
"Sukhasana, or Easy pose, is the ultimate pose for shifting into a meditative state and when paired with equal ratio breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system," says Johanna of this cross-legged, seated posture. "To practice, inhale for a count of five, hold at the top for a count of five, exhale for a count of five, and hold at the bottom for five. Repeat this breath pattern for five minutes to feel the effects of the relaxation response."
Yoga Pose For Relaxation: Modified Child's Pose
Start by getting into child's pose, seated on your heels, the tops of your feet pressing into the mat or floor, and pressing your chest toward your thighs. For this modification, instead of reaching the arms forward, let them extend behind you, with the backs of your hands against the floor. "Similar to child's pose, but focusing on the release of the backs of the shoulders, mimics the position of an embryo in the womb," Johanna explains. "With the forehead resting on the mat, you will feel an instant calming effect while the lower and upper body gently opens."