Suffice it to say, there are some overwhelmingly stress-inducing events happening in the world right now. And because of that, many are seeking moments of peace wherever they can. Though aspects of life are returning to normal, some people still may not feel comfortable or be able to blow off steam in their usual ways, such as spending time with family or traveling. Fortunately, though, there are other effective methods for soothing 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 nine 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, and Kelly Turner, Director of Education for YogaSix, a boutique yoga brand. 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 TZR. "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."
Yoga Pose For Relaxation: Downward Facing Dog
To get into downward facing dog, first come to all fours; then, keeping your hands on the ground, curl the toes under and lift your hips back to straighten your legs, forming an upside-down V-shape with your body. According to Turner, doing this checks a lot of boxes. “It's an inversion as the head is below the heart, which can have a calming effect,” she explains. “It lengthens and stretches the posterior chain of the body, including the calves, hamstrings, glutes, and back. It also decompresses the spine, especially when you allow the weight of your head to hang heavy.”
Yoga Pose For Relaxation: Supine Twist
Another great way to relax is by doing the supine twist, which Turner says is done by laying on the floor face up, and then draping your knees over to one side. “The twist provided to the spine can be gentle or intense, depending on your flexibility,” she continues. “Focus on keeping both shoulders grounded, and then bringing support underneath your bottom knee if it is hovering over the ground — a yoga block, pillow, or blanket can work well.” Hold as long as you would like — five to 10 breaths, or even up to five to 10 minutes, she says — before switching sides.
Yoga Pose For Relaxation: Legs Up The Wall
As Turner explains, legs up the wall is “one of the great poses for settling the nervous system” — in other words, it can move you from fight-or-flight to rest-and-digest. To do it, she says, “Scootch your hip as close to a wall as you can, and then lean back on your elbows to help lower you onto your back. Allow your legs to reach up the wall, resting your heels against the wall. You can play around with keeping your butt close to the wall, or shifting a few inches away — see what is more comfortable for your body.” Do this for five to 10 minutes, and you’ll “likely sleep well that night,” explains Turner.
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