These days I am constantly busy. With school, work, and various extracurricular projects, every day feels like a never ending whirlwind of chaos swallowing me whole. Too much time spent sitting at a desk and staring at a computer screen stiffens my neck and shoulders, causing severe pain along my spine and blistering headaches. Thankfully, to relieve my discomfort and decrease the physical pain resulting from office work, my yoga instructor taught me five poses to relieve this daily tension. Yoga helps to still the mind and promotes deep relaxation. I practice each pose before bed to help unwind after a long, hard day and promote a more restful sleep, increasing my energy in the morning.
Cat and Cow poses
The flowing stretch between these two poses massages the spine and soothes an achy back.
Start on hands and knees with knees directly below hips and wrists, hands and shoulders in line. Breathe in and slowly arch your back inward, lifting your head up into cow pose. Exhale and bend your head, rounding your back up into cat pose. Repeat 10 times.
This pose helps to release tension in the neck.
Stand with your legs wide apart and bend over with hands clasped behind your back. Let go of your head and stretch your arms forward.
The gentle stretching of the back, chest and spinal cord in this pose relieves tension, reduces fatigue and calms the mind
Start on your back with your knees folded in and arms at your side. Make sure your feet are hip distance apart. Inhale and raise your hips, lifting your lower and upper back off the floor. Touch your chest to your chin, but do not bring the chin down. Interlace your hands and place under your back to lift torso more. Support with your shoulders, hands and feet. Do not rely on your neck in this pose. Continue for 5 breaths.
Turning ourselves upside down can help flip the switch on anxiety. Shoulder stand is known as the “queen of asanas” and is great for soothing the nervous system. This pose stretches the neck and upper back, reduces insomnia and alleviates stress.
Lie on your back and extend legs up toward the ceiling and then over your head into plow pose. Place palms on lower back and move your elbows closer in. Lift your legs up and support lower back with palms. Do not put pressure on your neck. Instead use what my instructor phrased as the “tripod” of shoulders, elbows and head for support in this pose. Hold for 10 breaths and release back into plow pose and then slowly release your body onto the mat.
This gentle inversion pose helps with headaches and blood pressure while relieving anxiety and reducing cramping in feet and legs.
Lie down with your legs up and pressing against the wall. Lay your arms out to the side with palms facing up. Stay here for 10 breaths.
This is a key resting pose that will gently stretch your back and calm your mind for deep meditation.
Start seated on your knees. Exhale and bend your torso forward over your legs. Stretch your arms outward. Continue for 10 breaths.
Do you have favorite yoga poses for anxiety or stress?
Related: Yoga for Balance and Flexibility
Also by Jessica: 6 Best Vegan Hangover Cures
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Photo: Jessica Renae