Eliminate the stress of your day with these relaxing yoga poses.
It’s Friday night, which means it’s time to forget the worries of the office and wind down for the weekend. For most of us, however, it can be tough to find relaxation after a long, stressful week at work. Stress can accumulate over time and cause your body and mind to suffer. It’s very important to to set aside some time each day to focus on your own health and well-being! Try the simple yoga poses below to reduce your stress levels and notice a refreshing feeling of calmness and inner peace.
By Dashama Gordon
Stand up straight with your feet planted firmly and evenly on the floor. Make sure that your knees stack over your ankles but aren’t locked straight. Engage your glutes and maintain a neutral pelvis. Brace your core muscles and bring your shoulders back and down. Keep your hands at your side with palms facing out or bring them to your heart center. Close your eyes and remain here for five to 10 breaths.
Start standing, then fold forward and reach for your toes, ankles or, if you have severe tightness, your thighs or knees. The key is to relax into it. Lengthen from the lower back and allow the crown of your head to hang down toward the floor with your neck totally relaxed. Breathe deeply as you draw your torso closer to your legs. Stay for five to 10 breaths to start, and notice how your flexibility improves with each breath.
Start seated with one knee bent in front of you and the other leg extended behind you. If necessary, use a block under the bent-leg hip to elevate the hips. This will alleviate some of the pressure and make balancing easier until your flexibility improves. Lengthen from the lower back and use the strength of your core to lengthen your spine toward the ceiling. Try holding for five to 10 breaths on each side and increase the duration as you gain strength, endurance and flexibility. Be sure to repeat on both legs.
Start in the same position as extended pigeon. Lengthen from the lower back and place your palms or forearms on the floor in front of you. If you feel flexible enough, see if you can come all the way down on the forearms or even make a pillow with your hands and rest your forehead on your arms. Be sure to repeat on both legs.
Start on your belly. Place both palms under your shoulders, fingers spread wide, pelvis rooted into the mat. Pressing evenly into both palms, lift the chest up and draw the shoulder blades together behind your back. Allow your shoulders to drop down away from your ears to create space between your ears and shoulders. Lift your heart and look forward or slightly up. Take a few breaths and lower slowly back down.
Starting seated, cross the knees and either bring the feet close to the hips or away from you to increase the stretch. With your knees stacked directly on top of each other if possible, aim to sit with your spine straight and the crown of the head lifted. To increase the intensity, fold forward or opt for some arm variations. Hold for five to 10 breaths on each side (then switch so that the other knee is on top).
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All images courtesy of LiveStrong.com.