Yoga for Stress Relief: 4 Relaxing Exercises
© Ayurveda Resort Sonnhof, Austria
It’s not without reason that Yoga is considered as one of the most effective methods for relaxation. Regular Yoga practice can relieve tension and help you develop sustainable resistance towards stress. This way, you can protect yourself from burnout and other stress related illnesses.
Here are my four favorite anti-stress exercises.
# Anti-Stress Exercise 1: The Twisted Seat
With this exercise, you can re-activate your energy and find your center. You need your energy to relieve stress, strengthen your nerves and to calm your nervous system.
- First, position yourself in the heel seat. You can also sit in a chair with your feet firmly on the ground.
- Press your hands in the floor on each side of your body and raise the pelvis, so that the spine is directed vertically upwards.
- Exhale and gently turn to the left. While doing so, gently lower the back of your left hand on your lower back.
- The head is also gently rotated.
- Focus your attention on your breath.
- After some conscious breaths, come back to the middle.
- Now repeat on the right side
It is no wonder that our spine is also called the axis of life.
The twisted seat intensifies the rotation in the thoracic spine. As a result, the ribcage becomes more flexible and the muscles of the upper back are thoroughly stretched. This causes an inner straightening and centering. The mobility of our 24 vertebrae has a strong impact on us – not just on the physical body, but also on our mental flexibility.
# Anti-stress Exercise 2: The Downward Dog
This exercise is ideal if you lack inner clarity. The Downward Dog has a calming effect on our brain, so you can rebuild your spiritual strength and fight a mild depression. Reduce stress and signs of fatigue and gain new energy by:
- Get on your hands and knees.
- Position your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips.
- Now stretch your elbows to relieve the back.
- Spread your fingers and push them into the yoga mat. Note: Your weight should be distributed evenly accross the palms and fingers – to relieve your wrists.
- Exhale and at the same time place your toes on the mat and lift your knees off the floor. Stretch your legs slowly. Your hip goes upwards and the buttocks backwards.
- Now gently push your hands and heels into the mat. This way, you build up the correct body tension.
- Turn your arms and elbows slightly outwards.
- Your ears and upper arms should be on one level. Your head is relaxed, but it should not just hang down.
- It is recommended that you hold this position for 1-3 minutes.
- Then take a deep breath and finish the yoga exercise. Bend your knees and slowly bring your feet to your hands using little baby steps.
As a beginner, you should not be surprised if stiff achilles tendons or weak arms make the exercise difficult. With a little patience you will master the downward dog in no time. It’s the perfect exercise for relieving stress and tension.
# Anti-stress Exercise 3: The Upward Plank Pose
This Yoga exercise is great if you are looking for harmony. It also strengthens arms, legs and lower back. This yoga exercise promotes your determination and willpower and helps you to break away from your old habits:
- Sit down on your yoga mat.
- Place your hands on the floor behind you. The fingertips point backwards.
- Inhale and put your feet on the ground so that the soles of your feet are on the floor. Push the pelvis as far up as possible.
- You can tilt your head back. If this makes you feel uncomfortable, or if you have problems with the cervical spine, skip this.
- Hold this position with plenty of body tension for 5 deep breaths.
- Slowly lower the buttocks again and repeat the exercise.
Unless you have a corresponding set up, this exercise is hard to do in the office. Here are a couple exercises specifically designed and suitable for the office.
# Anti-Stress Exercise 4: Pranayama
Conscious breathing is key, as stress can make you forget how to breathe properly.
Through pranayama, relaxed abdominal breathing excercises, you can stimulate your Prana, your life energy. Move away from shallow breathing and give your body and mind a pleasant rest:
- Take an upright posture.
- Close your eyes and place a hand on your stomach.
- Inhale and feel your abdominal wall move. Feel how it lifts up when you breathe in and lowers itself when you exhale.
- Breathe into the abdomen deeply and relaxed for 3-4 seconds. Then exhale just as long.
- Feel how a deep calmness takes hold of you.
- Do this for about 10-20 minutes.
Yoga can actively help you to reduce stress and restore relaxation and energy.
Try out pranayama, the downward dog, the upward plank pose or the twisted seat. There are many other yoga exercises that promote inner peace. Choose your own personal way of escaping the hustle and bustle of everyday life.