Yoga for Stress Relief – 7 Great Poses for a Calmer Mind

Introduction:

In today’s fast-paced world, stress has become an inevitable part of our lives. It can manifest itself in many different forms, affecting both our mental and physical well-being.

However, there is a powerful and ancient practice that can help you combat stress and restore balance to your life: yoga.

Yoga is not just about flexibility and physical fitness; it’s also a holistic approach to stress reduction. In this blog, we will explore the benefits of yoga for stress relief and introduce 7 great poses that can help you find calm amidst life’s chaos.

The Science Behind Yoga & Stress Reduction

Yoga is an ancient practice originating in India, and it has been shown to reduce stress by promoting relaxation, reducing anxiety and increasing self-awareness. Scientific studies have demonstrated that yoga can lower cortisol levels (the stress hormone), improve sleep and enhance the overall quality of life.

But what is it about yoga that makes it such an effective tool for stress reduction?

  1. Breath Control (Pranayama): One of the fundamental aspects of yoga is breath control. Through deep, controlled breathing exercises you can calm your nervous system, lower your heart rate and bring down stress levels.
  2. Mindfulness and Meditation: Yoga often incorporates mindfulness and meditation practices. This helps you become more present and aware, allowing you to better manage stress by focusing on the here and now – living in the moment.
  3. Physical Postures (Asanas): Yoga poses, or Asanas, promote physical fitness and flexibility. These poses help release tension from the body, improve circulation and increase the production of endorphins, which are natural mood boosters.

7 Great Poses for Stress Reduction

1. Child’s Pose – Balasana

Begin with Child’s pose to ground yourself. This gentle, restorative pose stretches your back, relieves tension and encourages deep breathing.

Further Benefits include:

Brings the body into the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest)

  • Stimulates digestion
  • Increases blood flow to the head and neck
  • Can alleviate tension in the pelvis

When to practice

  • When stressed or overwhelmed
  • When resting in between postures
  • Shavasana
  • Just before bed

2. Cat-Cow Pose – Marjaryasana-Bitilasana

This dynamic duo of poses helps you release tension in your spine, shoulders and neck. The fluid motion of Cat-Cow is excellent for warming up the body and calming the mind.

Further benefits include:

• Helps to improve posture
• Supports our ability to balance
• Calms central nervous system which supports the digestive system.
When to practice
• As part of a warm up for class
• After long period on your feet
• Before you go to bed.

    3. Downward Facing Dog – Adho Mukha Svasana

    Downward Dog is a well-known pose that stretches the entire body. It strengthens your arms and legs whilst alleviating stress and fatigue.

     Further benefits include:

    • Lengthens lower back
    • Strengthens shoulders and wrists
    • Calms central nervous system which supports the circulatory system.
    When to practice
    • In between other postures in class
    • After long periods sitting
    • To lengthen the back body if it’s feeling tight

      4. Warrior II – Virabhadrasana II

      Warrior II is a powerful pose that strengthens both body and mind. It promotes confidence and reduces anxiety, helping you feel grounded and empowered.

      Further Benefits include:

       • Helps to open shoulders and hips

      • Supports our core strength
      • Stretches inner thigh and groin.
      When to practice:
      • As part of your yoga sequence
      • After a long period of sitting
      • When you need reminding of your strength

      5. Bridge Pose – Setu Banhasana

      This backbend stretches your chest and shoulders relieving stress and tension. It’s an excellent posture for calming the mind and settling frayed nerves.

       Further benefits are:

      • Strengthens mid and upper back muscles
      • Stimulates respiratory system
      • Alleviates lower back pain
      • A restorative variation invites the parasympathetic nervous system to activate

      When to practice

      • At the beginning or end of your yoga class
      • After long periods sitting
      • Just before bed

      6. Legs Up the Wall – Viparita Karani

      This is a restorative pose which aids circulation and calms the nervous system. It’s especially beneficial for those who spend long hours sitting at a desk.

       Further benefits include:

       Brings the body into the parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest)

      • Supports lymphatic and circulatory systems
      • Lowers blood pressure
      • Can alleviate tension headaches

       When to practice

      • When stressed or overwhelmed
      • In a restorative practice
      • Shavasana
      • Just before bed

      7. Corpse Pose – Savasana

      Corpse Pose is the ultimate in relaxation poses. It encourages deep rest and rejuvenation by allowing your body to fully relax, letting go of tension and stress.

      Further benefits include:

       

      • Reduces stress and anxiety
      • Allows you to connect to your higher self
      • Calms central nervous system aiding digestive and immune systems.
      When to practice
      • At the beginning or end of your yoga class
      • When you need a rest
      • Just before bed

        Conclusion:

        Yoga is a powerful tool for stress reduction, offering a holistic approach that benefits the body and mind. The breath control, mindfulness and physical movement combine to create a practice that can help you find serenity amidst life’s chaos.

        By incorporating the seven poses mentioned in this blog, you can begin your journey to a stress-free and more balanced life.

        Embrace the ancient wisdom of yoga and join us for one of our classes based in Eastbourne, East Sussex. We look forward to helping create a calmer you.

        A huge thank you to @georgie_mountney for the great photographs too!