by Keesha McLaren
You may not be surprised to hear that yoga is a wonderful practice to promote relaxation and well-being. This modality utilizes the breath and movement to relax and stabilize the mind and invite more ease into the body.
Many studies have found that yoga any time of day, can help minimize stress. It is believed that yoga is very effective for stress relief because it puts us into a better mood, which enables us to increase our mindfulness by being more focused on the present moment.
The best part of yoga is that you don’t need to spend a fortune to invest in fancy equipment or memberships to practice. All you need is your body and your breath.
Try these 3 simple, yet gentle poses at home, to reduce stress and help cultivate your inner calm:
Child’s Pose is yoga’s most important resting posture it gives you a chance to stop what you are doing and reconnect with your breath.
How to do Child’s Pose
- Kneel on your yoga mat or any padded surface for comfort with your knees together or apart (to relieve any tension in the lower back or hips).
- Hinge forward until your chest rests on your thighs with your forehead touching the floor.
- Curl your shoulders forward and let your hands rest, palms up, next to your feet or hands overhead with palms down based on your comfort le›vel. Hold the pose for 5 deep belly breaths or as long as you need to.
- To get out of the pose, slowly use your hands to walk your torso upright and sit back on your heels for a few seconds before standing up.
Benefits of Child’s Pose
- This resting pose quiets the mind and eases stress.
- It also helps to promote relaxation by encouraging steady conscious breathing, as it calms the sympathetic nervous system (fight and flight response) and stimulates the parasympathetic system (rest and digest response).
Corpse pose is used to calm the body before practice or as a resting pose at the end of a practice session.
How to do the Corpse Pose
- Lie flat on your back with your legs together but not touching, and arms at your side with the palms facing up.
Option: If you have a back injury or discomfort: Do this pose with your knees bent and your feet on the floor, hip-distance apart.
- Keep your eyes closed and your face relaxed, breathe deeply and slowly into your belly inhaling through the nose for a 5 second count, pause with the breath for a 5 second then exhale through the mouth for a 5 second count.
- Bring your attention to each part of your body starting at the top of your head and moving down to your toes.
- Stay in this position for 3-5 minutes or as long as you are comfortable.
Benefits of Corpse Pose
- This pose puts the body at ease and calms the brain.
- It quiets the nervous system
- Promotes total relaxation
Standing Forward Fold
Standing Forward Fold calms the mind while stretching and rejuvenating the whole body.
How to do the Standing Forward Fold
- Start from a straight standing position, exhale as you fold forward enough to bring your palms flat on the floor (bend your knees as much as necessary), tuck your chin toward your chest and point your head towards the floor.
Option: If you have tight hamstrings or back issue – use a stable chair to assist you either to sit on or to hold on to for support.
- You should feel a stretch in your spine as your hips point towards the sky and your head points toward the floor.
- Hold this pose for 4-8 breaths, then bend your knees, inhale and take your arms out to your sides (like and airplane) and slowly raise your arms and torso back up to a standing position.
Benefits of the Standing Forward Fold
- Relieves stress and fatigue by helping to slow down your heart rate.
- It calms your mind and a calmer mind = better sleep.
- Stimulates the nervous system to help relieve stress, headaches and fatigue.
Yoga is not just a very effective stress reliever, it puts us in a better mood, it enables us to be more focused on the present moment, and encourages us to give ourselves a break. It also promotes flexibility, muscle toning and control.
Enjoy your practice!