Writer: MAGGIE RYAN | Outlet: PopSugar
It's not always easy to get into a yoga flow when you're feeling stressed. In fact, if you're overwhelmed and anxious, it might feel like the last thing you want to do. But if there's one thing we know about yoga, it's that you should never underestimate its power for relieving worries and creating calm. And if you don't have the time or motivation for a full flow, dropping into a few key yoga poses is a good way to relieve stress fast. We consulted with yoga instructors to find out which poses are most effective — read ahead to get their expertise and try out these ultra-relaxing postures for yourself.
1. Child's Pose
Samora Suber, RYT 200, said Child's Pose is her favorite for stress relief. It "helps to calm your nervous system with nurturing signals of being 'safe and supported,'" she explained. The pose also stretches your legs and hips while relieving tension in your neck and head, Suber added.
- Kneel on your mat with your knees hips-width distance apart, and your big toes touching behind you. Take a deep breath in and, as you exhale, lie your torso over your thighs. Try to lengthen your neck and spine by drawing your ribs away from your tailbone and the crown of your head away from your shoulders.
- Rest your arms beside your legs, with palms facing up, or try extending your arms out in front of you.
- Stay here for five breaths.
2. Cat Cow Pose
This simple pose "helps to create an opening of the spine," said yoga instructor Maya Breuer, E-RYT 500, vice president of cross-cultural advancement at Yoga Alliance. "This movement of the spine removes blockages and strengthens the arms, shoulders, and neck."
- Begin with your hands and knees on the floor. Make sure your knees are under your hips and your wrists are under your shoulders. Begin in a neutral spine position, with your back flat and your abs engaged. Take a big, deep inhale.
- On the exhale, round your spine up toward the ceiling, and imagine you're pulling your belly button up toward your spine, really engaging your abs. Tuck your chin toward your chest, and let your neck release. This is your cat-like shape.
- On your inhale, arch your back, let your belly relax, and go loose. Lift your head and tailbone up toward the sky — without putting any unnecessary pressure on your neck. This is the Cow portion of the pose.
- Continue flowing back and forth from Cat Pose to Cow Pose, and connect your breath to each movement — inhale for Cow Pose, and exhale on Cat Pose.
- Repeat for 10 rounds.
3. Warrior 2
"I love the inner strength and confidence that this pose cultivates, along with the humility and willingness it signifies," said yoga therapist and instructor Huma Gruaz, RYT 500. "It helps cultivate stillness in my mind and body while improving my stamina, endurance, balance, and concentration."
- Begin on your hands and feet in Downward Facing Dog. Step your right foot forward between your palms and come into Warrior 1.
- Extend your arms out in T-position as you rotate your torso to the left, coming into Warrior 2. Ideally your front thigh should be parallel to the ground and your right knee directly over your right ankle. Make sure your shoulders are stacked directly above your pelvis.
- Gaze past your right fingertips, holding for at least five breaths. Then return to Downward Facing Dog. Step your left foot forward and do this pose on the other side.