Many people are not aware of how yoga can be an important tool in reducing stress. With several yoga poses and practices, there are numerous ways in which yoga can be beneficial for people who suffer from stress and anxiety.
Stress is something that every man or woman faces daily. Whether you feel stressed from work, school, relationships, or even just the daily rigors of life, you have likely struggled with stress at some point during your lifetime.
Yoga has been used as a physical, mental, and spiritual discipline for thousands of years. And when you practice yoga regularly, you can realize so many benefits.
So today, I’m going to share with you some common yoga poses which will help in your stress relief.
One of the best ways to relieve stress is by practicing these 11 yoga poses regularly.
What are the best yoga poses for stress relief?
Though yoga practice is known to improve the quality of life of every individual however it might be very much helpful for individuals struggling with stress, anxiety, and depression.
Some of the yoga poses that can help in stress relief include:
The camel pose is also known as the dhanurasana or bow pose. In Sanskrit, “Dhanu” indicates bow and arrow, hence the name of the posture.
What are the health benefits of camel pose?
The Camel Pose is one of the yoga asanas, done for gentle stretching of the entire body. This pose is great for increasing flexibility in the hips and torso while stimulating blood flow to the abdominal organs and lungs. (10)
How to perform Ustarasana?
- Sit on knees
- Make sure your thighs are perpendicular to the floor
- Make sure your toes touch the floor and sole faces upwards
- Put your hand on your hip
- Move one hand from the hip and touch the toe
- Move the other hand
- Flex your neck backward if it feels okay
Balasana or a child’s pose is the resting pose that provides a sense of calmness, stability and eases stress & fatigue. It is very helpful in improving mental stability, emotional balance, concentration, and stress relief.
Balasana or child’s pose is one of the most effective and easiest yoga poses for stress relief and mild depression. It can be practiced by people of all ages, sizes, and body types.
What are the health benefits of a child’s pose?
Child’s Pose is most often done before Savasana, or final relaxation, but can be done anytime during your yoga practice to release stress.
How to perform Balasana?
- Kneel on the floor and bring back your toes together
- Separate your knees hip-width apart
- Exhales and sink your torso on your inner thighs
- Relax your arms alongside with torso facing backward and palm facing up
- If you want, you can move your hand forward with the palms facing down
- Keep forehead down and roll your head on either side
Setu Bandhasana or bridge pose is a powerful inversion that opens up space around the heart. This pose is very much helpful for the nervous system as the head is below the heart provides enhanced blood circulation and oxygen to the brain. This yoga pose has a soothing effect on our minds and helps in stress relief. (4, 5, 8, 9)
I must say that this pose is one of my favorites as it opens up the heart and reduces stress levels. If you are a beginner in yoga, it takes time and patience to perform this asana.
What are the health benefits of bridge pose?
Bridge Pose, or Setu Bandha Sarvangasana in Sanskrit, is a backbend that belongs to the standing poses category.
It improves circulation and oxygen supply to the brain, and as a result, helps reduce stress, anxiety, depression, insomnia, fatigue, headaches, and migraines and regulates blood pressure. (9)
How to perform Setu Bandhasana?
- Lie flat on your back (as in Savasana position) with both legs extended
- Hands-on the sides of the thighs with the palm facing downward
- Fold your legs from the knees while your feet touching the ground
- Slowly raise the lower body keeping head and neck on the floor while the whole body is in the air
- Return to the original position (in resting posture)
Fish Pose or Matsyasana is another asana that helps in releasing pent-up emotions. It helps in relieving tightness in the chest and back and opens up the area around your heart.
Fish Pose is a balancing asana that requires a lot of precision and patience. If you are not well-versed in Yoga, you are advised to ask your instructor for help in performing this asana.
It has a lot of variations that you can try out depending on your comfort level.
What are the health benefits of the fish pose?
Fish pose, or matsyasana, is an effective yoga pose to relieve tightness in the chest and back. This pose also stretches abdominal, hip flexors, and trapezius muscle groups. (13)
How to perform Matsyasana?
- Sit with your legs stretched out and together
- Put your palms below your buttocks while palms facing down
- Bring your elbow together and expand your chest
- Lean your upper body onto your forearms and elbow while keeping your chest expanded
- Lean your head backward or put on the cushions as per the convenience
Savasana or Corpse Pose is one of the easiest but most powerful asanas. Most of the Yoga sessions end with this asana.
In Corpse Pose, your mind will automatically tune into a high concentration state.
The experienced yogies say that they felt lighter due to activation of their higher meditative sensibility in a way that they could tune everything out except their inner self.
In Savasana (corpse pose) students experience a vast expansion depth within which creates a continuous flow of energy throughout one’s whole being which results in realizing our oneness with the world & discovering ourselves
What are the health benefits of corpse pose?
How to perform Savasana?
- Lie on your back on the mat
- Hug your knees (knees bent) close to your chest and take a deep breath
- Exhale and stretch your leg while keeping your tailbone on ground
- The feet should be knees wide apart and relaxed away from each other
- Let your body soften and relax
- Relax your arms on the side with your palm facing upwards
Vriksasana allows the body and mind to find balance. In Sanskrit, Vriksha means a tree and Asana means pose. The tree pose is named so because it looks like a tree when practiced. The body of the practitioner stands straight and firm just like a tree, showing the perfect balance in the pose. (4, 9, 13)
This position requires full concentration while leaving the racing thoughts behind. It is one of the meditative postures and helps in improving concentration, balancing, and strengthening leg and thigh muscles. Since every asana has several health benefits attached to it, this unique pose also has special health benefits for you.
What are the health benefits of tree pose?
Tree pose, also known as Vrksasana (vriksha-sana), is a balance posture. It improves balance, concentration, and stress management. It also relieves back pain and abdominal discomfort. Tree pose stretches the abdominals, quadriceps, and tibialis anterior muscles. (9, 13, 14)
How to perform Vriksasana?
- Stand straight, put your weight on the right leg and try to lift the left leg slowly
- Turn the left leg so that the left foot facing towards the interior of your right thigh
- Place left foot on the interior of either ankle or calf or thighs of the other leg
- Don’t press your feet against the right or left knee
- Bring your hand together in namaste style in front of your chest or pointing the hands (namaste style) in the upward direction above your head
- Hold the position for 1-2 minutes
- Relax and repeat the asana with the right foot
Dhanurasana is also known as the bow pose. It is a yoga asana practiced by both beginner and advanced level yoga practitioners. It might seem complicated to perform this asana for a beginner, but once you get hold of the technique, you’ll find it quite simple and easy to perform. (4, 5, 8)
This yoga pose opens up the shoulder, chest, neck and helps in relieving tension from this area.
What are the health benefits of bow pose?
It helps in relieving stress and fatigue. In addition to these, it helps in relaxing and strengthening different muscles and improves the digestion and flexibility of the back. (15)
How to perform Dhanurasana?
- Lie on your stomach keeping the feet hip-width apart
- Keep your arm on the side of the body
- Fold your leg backward and try to hold your ankles with your hand
- Breathe in and slowly raise your chest above the mat and while pulling your legs up and backward
- Look straight ahead and pay attention to your breathing
- Stretch as long as your body supports, don’t overstretch your body
- After 15-20 seconds exhale and slowly bring the chest and legs down and relax
The actual Sanskrit name of this Yoga posture is Adho-Mukha Savasana. Savasana means the final resting pose. This Yoga motion is commonly referred to as the Downward-Facing Dog, in English. The term ‘dog’ has been used instead of the dog’s name and this is because the shape of this posture resembles a dog standing on its hind legs. (4, 5, 12, 16)
This asana can be practiced by any age group starting from teenagers to old people including people undergoing medical treatment.
What are the health benefits of downward-facing dog pose?
Downward Facing Dog is a great yoga pose for beginners because it helps build strength in the arms, shoulders, legs, and back. It’s the most active restorative pose as it increases circulation in our brain without making us feel tired. When we have better circulation, it also relieves stress and anxiety. (12, 16)
How to perform Adho Mukha Svanasana?
- Lie on your stomach with your palm on side of your chest with your finger open
- Come on your hand and knees while keeping the knee directly below your hip and hands slightly forward of your shoulder
- Breathe deeply and raise your buttocks high in the air and moving your thighs up and back
- Keep your elbow straight while lifting your buttocks and release four head
- Its variant can also use head support such that it is enough to elongate the neck and at the same time provide support to your head
Uttanasana or Standing Forward Bend Pose is frequently chosen to get a taste for the power of yoga. This posture is also a very useful way to work with tight hamstrings and shortness in the lower back. It increases the energy flow in the body and can be practiced by anyone who feels tired or a lack of energy. (4, 5, 9, 13, 17)
This asana is suggested to be practiced at least twice a day for 30 seconds to 1 minute. But before attempting this asana, one must make sure that there are no back problems or injuries.
What are the health benefits of standing forward bend pose?
The Standing Forward Bend (or Pada Hasthasana in Sanskrit) is an excellent pose to start your yoga practice with, but many people skip it because of its simplicity. However, this poses brings several benefits including stress relief, anxiety, and depression reduction. Furthermore, it stretches the back and hamstring muscles while also working the core strength as you hold the position. (9, 13, 17)
How to perform Uttanasana?
- Stand straight with your feet hip-width apart
- Extend your body forward and then over your leg to elongate the spine
- Hold on to your elbow or let your hand rest on the floor
- Release muscle tension in your lower back and hips and let your neck hung heavy towards the floor
- Hold the position and breathe slowly and smoothly through your nose
Paschimottanasana or Seated Forward Bend pose is called a seated forward bend, not because of its common name but because of its action. The name of the pose is related to its purpose as it encourages us to bend forward.
If you’re not practicing yoga, then it’s time you start. Yoga poses that include bend forward can make a major difference in your life. This pose can reduce stress and anxiety along with its many painful symptoms.
What are the health benefits of seated forward bend pose?
Seated Forward Bend, also known as Paschimottanasana, is one of the asanas in Hatha yoga. This posture stretches muscles in the back body, which includes the gluteus maximus, gastrocnemius, erector spinae, and pelvic muscles. (13, 18)
How to perform Paschimottanasana?
- Make yourself comfortable in a seated position with your legs extended in front of you
- You may keep a slight bend in your knees
- Inhale and lift your arms
- Slowly fold forward and exhale while keeping your hand on the legs or floor
- Hold the position for 2-3 minutes
The Plow pose is also known as Halasana in Sanskrit. It is a graceful inverted pose. The Plow pose stretches the entire back of the body, including the hamstrings, which makes it excellent preparation for more complicated backbends like Upward Facing Dog. (4, 9)
This pose is an incredible and challenging stretch for the back. If you’re sitting at your desk too much, it can be incredibly difficult to get down into Plow with a straight back.
You might have to work into the pose by lowering your knees or head to the yoga mat first. Eventually, you’ll build up the flexibility and strength required for what is pretty much a yoga push-up.
What are the health benefits of Halasana?
The Plow pose is not just a simple yoga position, but it helps you improve your energy level as well as your health.
It tones the abdominal muscles and strengthens the arms and legs by pulling them closer to the core. It helps develop posture and weight distribution.
How to perform Halasana?
- Make yourself comfortable in a supported shoulderstand position and gradually bend your legs from the hip joint so that toes touch the floor above and beyond the head
- Keep your torso straight, perpendicular to the floor
- You can hold your hands at the back of your torso
- Slowly lift your upper thigh and tailbone towards the ceiling
- Hold the position for 1-3 minutes
Other Yoga Poses to Reduce Stress
In addition to the above-mentioned yoga asanas, some other poses can reduce stress and anxiety level. It can also help combat mental disturbance and improve calmness and peace. some of the other poses to reduce stress includes:
Eagle pose is also known as Garudasana. This yoga pose is very simple and best suited for beginners. To practice an eagle pose you need strength, endurance, flexibility, and concentration.
This pose stretches ankles, calves, thighs, hips, shoulders, and upper back. It also improves concentration, sense of balance and reduces stress.
Individuals with a knee injury should avoid this pose.
The cat pose is also known as Marjaryasana. This yoga pose helps in stretching the back torso and neck which improves the blood supply to the brain. Improved circulation of blood to the brain provides better oxygen supply and hence reduces stress markers.
Apart from stretching the back and neck it also provides a gentle massage to the spine and belly organs.
This yoga pose can be difficult for beginners however little bit of help from other individuals will do the trick.
Interesting facts about Yoga
- Yoga practice is over 5000 years old
- The word “Yoga” comes from the Sanskrit root “yuj”, which means unity
- Yoga practice is mainly dominated by women
- A male practitioner is known as yogis and female as yoginis
- There are more than 100 poses of yoga
- Yoga can delay the ageing process
- Regular yoga practice boosts immunity
- Yoga is effective in relieving stress
- Yoga is a holistic exercise
- Yoga can increase productivity at the workplace
- It can help lose weight