Almost any type of yoga practice is incredibly helpful for relieving stress. But personally, I’ve found most benefit from vinyasa flow yoga. In vinyasa, the synchronization of breath and movement is emphasized; one asana flows seamlessly to the next, and most likely, the major part of the class will be spent on variations of sun salutations, lunges, and Warrior poses. These asanas are devotional poses: Warrior is Virabhadrasana in Sanscrit, and thus these poses are dedicated to the hero Virabhadra created from the hair of god Siva. And so, they give strength and courage to the yogi, radiating energy from inside out. When you move through your vinyasa, you feel fearless in dispelling negative energy and building your own positive energy from within. Feel like a noble and invincible warrior in this vinyasa yoga for stress relief.
1. Tadasana (Mountain pose) – Chaturanga
Stand with your feet close together and hands by your sides, palms facing front. Inhale and bring arms over your head; exhale and fold forward. Inhale and look up half way; exhale and step back or jump to chaturanga (below).
2. Upward dog
From Chaturanga, inhale, straighten your elbows and push yourself up into Upward dog, without your lower body ever touching the floor. Just the tops of your feet and your palms are supporting your body weight.
3. Downward Dog
Exhale and push your weight away from your palms, raising your hips into a downward dog. Feel free to breathe 5 deep breaths here to get your bearing–remember, this is your first inversion of the practice (head below hips).
4. High Lunge – Warrior I
Inhale and step your right foot between your hands into a high lunge; exhale and raise your torso up, lifting your arms and heads to the ceiling. Put your hands together in prayer (Anjali mudra) or just your forefingers pointing up like a gun (Jupiter mudra, which focuses your energy to break through barriers).
5. Warrior II
On exhale, windmill your arms open into Warrior II. Your hips and chest should now be open to the side, while your gaze is over your front arm.
6. Peaceful Warrior
Lean back into your back leg while stretching your right arm over and to the back.
After a few deep breaths, float back to Warrior II and flow through your vinyasa in reverse, stepping your foot back into plank, chaturanga, then downward dog. At the end of your exhale in down dog, step or hop lightly to the front of the mat into a forward fold. Inhale, look up; exhale forward fold. Inhale, and rise up to tadasana (standing). Repeat 1-6 on the other leg. Now you are ready for another vinyasa, building up from what you’ve started.
7. Humble Warrior
Begin another Sun salutation through Warrior II–this time, fold your hands together behind your back and fold your torso over your front leg into Humble Warrior.
8. Side Angle Pose (Utthita Parsvakonasana)
On your exhale, rest your left palm just inside your left (forward) knee while twisting your torso to the right side and raising your right arm to the ceiling.
9. Bound Side Angle (Baddha Utthita Parsvakonasana)
Loop your bottom hand underneath your thigh, and reach for it with the other hand. This pose opens up your chest and shoulders and relieves tension in neck and upper body.
10. Bound Side Angle Balance
On your next exhale, gently push off of your back foot while straightening your front leg into a balancing bound side angle. Hold your core and keep your back leg straight for most stability.
11. Three-legged Dog (aka Downward dog Split)
From the balancing side angle pose, put your back foot (right foot) down on the ground, as well as your palms; simultaneously, shift your weight and swing your supporting front leg (left) straight back into the air, coming into Three-legged Dog.
12. Wild Thing (Camatkarasana, aka Rock Star pose)
On your inhale, open your left hip while bending the knee. On exhale, let the top foot lower gently onto the floor while arching your back and reaching over your head with your left hand.
13. Standing forward kick
From Wild Thing, pivot your body back into Three-legged dog. Inhale deeply, then exhale and seamlessly raise your upper body up from the ground while swinging your back leg to the front. (Your left foot should have stayed in air the whole time, testing your balance and determination). Your leg should be straight and your foot flexed.
14. Warrior III
Take a deep inhale; exhale and swing your leg to the back, foot flexed and pointing to the ground. Simultaneously lower your upper body so that it is parallel to the floor. Raise your arms over your head, 2 feet apart, thumb and forefinger touching in Guyan mudra, which imparts knowledge, clarity, and calm, and helps release anger.
From Warrior III, step back into Downward dog and repeat 7-14 on the other side. Again, end up in Downward dog. Put your knees down, kneel, and pull your upper body over your thighs for Child’s pose. After 10 deep breaths, come into lotus pose.
Meditation – Sanmukhi Mudra
Sanmukhi mudra is dedicated to Sanmukha, the god of war. It is also known as Yoni mudra, meaning the womb, because the yogi is looking in toward herself, at the source of her being. Raise your arms up and out, and place your thumbs over your ear hole to tune out external sounds. Place your index and middle fingers over your closed eyelids. Gently “spread apart” the eyelids with your index and middle finger. Breathe deeply and evenly. This mudra helps you look inside yourself and to seek peace from your own divine nature.
Bhutadamara mudra is a gesture of protection against evil. Cross your right wrist over your left and curve your middle and ring fingers toward your thumb. Your little fingers should be touching lightly and your index fingers should be pointing up. Breathing deeply and evenly, meditate upon your strength and courage to dispel and rise above negativity.
Also in Yoga: Morning Yoga Sequence for Energy
Photo: Peaceful Dumpling