You know the feeling: You’re trying to juggle a million tasks, and suddenly, doubts start to creep in – “Will I get it all done?” or “What if I mess up?”
Don’t let these moments of panic derail you. By taking a moment to do some yoga poses, you can break the cycle of worry.
It doesn’t matter where you are – with these five simple yoga poses, you can take control of your stress levels and experience immediate relaxation.
1) Child’s Pose
We don’t need to say this, but 2020 was one of the most stressful years in recent memory. But amidst all the chaos, one yoga move took social media by storm: the child’s pose.
This pose stretches the back and hip muscles – the ones that tense up the most when we get stressed. Adopting the child’s pose makes your body move into a parasympathetic relaxation response, releasing all that built-up tension.
To do the child’s pose, start on all fours and sit back on your heels. Then slowly lean forward and rest your forehead on the ground. Place your arms by your sides, and remain in this pose for at least 30 seconds, or ten breaths.
2) Cat-Cow Pose
Yoga is all about matching movements with breathing. And no pose demands breath-movement synchronisation quite like the cat-cow pose.
While this position releases tension in the spine, the focus required will bring your mind back to the present moment (and away from your worries).
To do the cat-cow, start on all fours, with hands directly under your shoulders and knees aligned with your hips. Keep your spine straight, thinking of it as a bridge between the shoulders and the hips.
As you inhale, curl your toes, tilt your pelvis back, gently arch your back, engage your core, and look toward the ceiling.
As you exhale, release your feet from the toes-curled position (your soles should face toward the ceiling), then round your back whilst engaging your core, and tuck your chin toward your chest. Repeat this sequence for at least ten breaths.
3) Downward Facing Dog Pose
There’s a reason why downward-facing dog is one of the most popular yoga poses. By inverting and stretching the entire body, this position encourages blood flow, bringing needed oxygen to your cells. This has an energising effect on the body, whilst calming the mind.
To get into a downward-facing dog pose, start on all fours and lift your hips up and back until your body forms an inverted “V” shape.
Keep your core engaged and hold the pose for ten breaths.
4) Eye of the Needle Pose
Many yoga practitioners love Eye of the Needle because it reduces glute tension. But since it requires you to draw in your limbs, it is also a potent stress reliever. When you do this, your mind naturally looks inward, releasing external concerns.
To do this pose, lie on your back and bend your left leg. Next, cross your left foot over the right thigh, and then, use your hands to gently pull the right knee towards your chest. You should feel a deep stretch in the glutes and hamstrings – hold it for ten breaths before repeating the process on the other side.
5) Bananasana Pose
When we feel stressed, we often hold our breath without realising it. This lack of oxygenation can compound the stress that we feel. Bananasana is a simple pose to reinvigorate our bodies, as it allows us to breathe more fully.
To do the Bananasana Pose, lie down on your back with your legs straight and arms stretched over your head. As you do this, keep your buttocks firmly grounded on the mat.
Next, move both legs towards the right side of your body, ensuring that your right foot keeps your left foot anchored by crossing the ankles.
With your butt still firmly on the mat, bring your upper body gently towards your right side. As you perform this movement, use your right hand to hold your left wrist, and allow your spine to bend.
Hold this position for three to five minutes – during this time, observe any sensations produced in both the lower and upper body. Repeat on the left side, holding the position for another three to five minutes.
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Monica is the owner and founder of Cultivate Calm Yoga. Monica has a Bachelor of Behavioural Science, and before teaching yoga, she worked in IT, Business Strategy, Project Management, HR and recruitment. She started yoga to deal with chronic stress and burnout and soon became addicted to feeling calm.
Running her business for the last ten years has seen her navigate many challenges, including death, divorce, cancer, burnout, and, of course, the pandemic. She has emerged on the other side wiser, more resilient and more motivated to help other women thrive in their businesses.