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iStock 626605168 CroppedYoga is an ancient practice dedicated to connecting the body with the mind. It originated over 5,000 years ago in Northern India and came to the United States in the 1950s. Since then, it has gained popularity because of its ability to improve health and most importantly reduce stress. Here’s a list of poses designed to lessen tension in the body and improve the overall state of mind.

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Child’s Pose

Child’s pose can be used as a transition between more difficult postures or it can be to calm the mind and body at any point throughout the day. One of the best parts of the posture is the way it stretches the hips, knees and ankles. It also opens up the cervical spine, which allows the practitioner to breathe through the back body. To start the posture kneel down and place your forehead on the ground in front of you. Next, outstretch your hands above your head and take five deep breathes. The pressure on your forehead will help your body relax and force your body to calm down.

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Forward Fold

Forward folds are one of the best ways to loosen tight hamstrings, calm down an achy back and soothe a racing mind. This pose is used during intense and energetic practices as well as calmer and more restorative ones. It helps increase blood flow to the brain while oxygenating the body. To start, stand up straight with feet parallel. Next, keep your legs completely straight and bend forward from your hip joints. If there’s pressure in the lower back, try bending the knees. Take five deep breaths and feel your body adjust to the pose.

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Twist

Relieving stress is just one of the many benefits that twists can bring to the body. Besides relaxing the mind, twists compress internal organs and help improve digestion. Twists also relieve back pain and maintain normal spine rotation. There are many variations of twists, but one of the best ways to relieve stress is by practicing a supported belly down twist. To do so, place a bolster or large pillow down in front of you. Next, bring your right or left hip to the edge of the bolster with bent knees. Lower your chest to your bolster and keep your legs in the same position. Take several deep breaths and feel your body adjust.

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