There are endless benefits to practicing yoga: it’s a great way to stay in shape, relax your mind, and help reduce stress. While all yoga moves are designed to help you feel calm, there are definitely a few specific poses that are the best when it comes to relieving tension, promoting relaxation, and increasing restfulness. Ready to say farewell to stress? Here are five moves designed to do just that.
1. Child’s pose
According to The Huffington Post, child’s pose promotes calm and restful feelings. Sinking deep into a child’s pose position can help quiet your mind, alleviate stress and anxiety, and stretch your back. It also helps to recharge your nervous system and lymphatic system. To do child’s pose, start by kneeling on your hands and knees. Make sure to separate your knees about hip width apart. As you exhale, slowly lower your butt toward your heels, feeling the tailbone lengthen away from the back of your pelvis. As your torso folds over your thighs, lengthen the back of your neck before your forehead rests on the floor. Lay your arms by the thighs with palms facing up, and take several slow breaths.
2. Mountain pose
Prevention writes that this pose will help to keep you focused. By placing awareness on your feet, mountain pose also helps you feel nice and grounded. Begin by standing straight, with your feet together. Spread your toes out like a fan, distributing your weight evenly across both feet. Lift the kneecaps by tightening your thighs, and then move your thighs back and tailbone in. Straighten your arms, with your palms facing in. Pull your shoulder blades back and lift the chest. Keep your neck and shoulders relaxed, looking straight ahead.
3. Bridge pose
“Not to be confused with the full wheel, the bridge pose provides gentle stretching of the back and legs while alleviating stress and tension. The pose can reduce anxiety, fatigue, backaches, headaches and insomnia, and is even thought to be therapeutic for high blood pressure,” according to The Huffington Post. To get into bridge pose, lie on your back with your knees bent and feet on the floor.
Extend your arms along the floor, keeping your palms flat. Press your feet and arms into the floor and exhale as you lift your hips toward the ceiling. Draw your tailbone toward your pubic bone, holding your butt off the floor. Then, roll your shoulders back and underneath your body. Clasp your hands and extend your arms as much as possible, pressing your forearms into the mat. Reach your knuckles toward your heels and keep your thighs and feet parallel. Make sure your weight is pressed evenly across both feet.
4. Foot and big toe pose
This pose will help teach you to be calm and patient, says Prevention. Begin by standing with your feet hip distance apart. Lift your kneecaps by tightening the thighs and roll your shoulders back while lifting the chest. Bend forward starting at the hips, grab your big toes with your thumb and first two fingers, and look forward. Make sure to keep your legs strong and chest lifted in this pose.
5. Cross-legged lower back stretch
This position forces you to keep your breathing nice and steady, which is a great way to feel relaxed and zen. Sit a few inches from a wall with your legs crossed. Walk your fingers up the wall and stretch from the lower back. Broaden your shoulders by separating and lifting your shoulder blades, and keep your throat and neck soft. Make sure you don’t tense your shoulders — just lift them. Wait a moment, and then walk your fingers a little farther up the wall.