Try this yoga sequence to melt away the tension of the day.
We all know what it feels like to be stressed out. There are some days when you feel like you want to rip your hair out, whether it’s due to financial issues, work deadlines, relationship problems, or something else. When things get this stressful, it’s super important to take a deep breath and step back from your anxiety. Doing yoga can definitely help you to relax and feel a little calmer and able to tackle your tension head-on. Try the sequence below after your most stressful of days, and watch the tension just melt away!
By Jenny Sugar
Wide Squat Pose
This pose will open tight hips and relieve lower back tension. Stand with your feet wider than hips-width distance apart. Bend your knees and squat down, trying to keep your feet parallel. Rest your hands on the floor in front of you and relax your head. Enjoy holding this stretch for five breaths.
Seated Heart-Opener Pose
This simple pose will open your chest and shoulders. Come to sit on your shins in Hero Pose. Interlace your hands behind you in a double fist, pressing the heels of your palms together. Pull your pressed palms toward the floor, opening through the chest and shoulders. Hold for five breaths.
Grounded Tipover Tuck Pose
Here’s a relaxing stretch for your neck and shoulders that can also help relieve headaches and drowsiness. From the Seated Heart Opener, lower your forehead to the floor about eight or so inches in front of your knees. Shift your weight forward and lift your hips off your heels. Come to rest on the crown (top) of your head and lower your clasped hands as close to the floor as you can. After five breaths, release your hands and sit up.
Wide Child’s Pose
This is the ultimate stress-relieving pose. Separate your knees so they’re wider than hips-width distance apart. Take a deep breath in and as you exhale, fold forward, extending your arms out in front of you. Turn your cheek to the floor if it’s more comfortable, and stay here for five breaths.
Cat Cow Pose
This stretch is perfect for regulating your breath, which can help you feel more calm. Come onto your hands and knees. Make sure your knees are under your hips and your wrists under your shoulders. Begin in a neutral spine position, with your back flat and your abs engaged. As you inhale, let your belly soften, arch your back, and lift your head and tailbone. This part of the stretch is called Cow. With an exhale, round your spine up to the ceiling, pulling your abs toward your spine, and simultaneously tuck your tailbone and chin in. This part is known as Cat (think Halloween cat). Continue flowing back and forth from Cat to Cow, breathing deeply so as not to rush each movement. Repeat for a minute or so.
Chest opening poses like Cobra have an uplifting and joyful effect on your mood. Lie on your belly with your legs hips-width distance apart. Extend your arms straight out in front of you. As you lift your head up off the ground, begin to slowly walk your hands in, keeping your hips and thighs on the ground, but gently arching your lower back. Walk them in as far as you can, keeping your elbows slightly bent. Actively relax, keeping your gaze forward or lowering your head back between your shoulder blades. Stay here for five breaths, opening through the chest and abs, and then lower your torso back to the mat.
This hip opening pose is truly relaxing when you rest your torso over your front leg. Bring your right knee forward between your hands so your outer right leg is resting on the mat. If your hips are more open, inch your right foot away from you. Make sure your left hip is always pointing down toward the mat. Walk your hands out in front of you, allowing your torso to rest over your right knee. Hold here, breathing into any areas of tightness and tension for at least five breaths.
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All images courtesy of POPSUGAR Photography / Louisa Larson.