10 Relaxing Yoga Poses for Stress Relief (with Step by Step Instructions)
Stress is a byproduct of our day to day lives hectic schedule. We struggle to balance our work, family life, social life, and many other activities. This makes us feel very tense and tired. You can practice various yoga poses that will help you relax at the end of a long and hectic day. Read more about various yoga asanas for stress relief and relaxation in this write-up.
Stress may make you feel worried, tired, and anxious about almost anything. It can lead to health issues like diabetes, heart diseases, high blood pressure, etc. Yoga helps us reduce stress and keep you away from such health issues.
There are various health benefits of yoga and practicing it daily helps in overall wellbeing.
The best thing about yoga is, it can be done anywhere like at the office, home, etc. You do not need any previous experience and start the beginner’s yoga anytime.
Practicing yoga out in nature, experiencing vibrant colors and sounds, provides a positive energy boost.
Yoga and Relaxation
Your body needs to activate its natural relaxation response to combat stress effectively. Sitting on the couch and binge-watching favorite episodes on TV after a stressful day has a lot of damaging effects on your body.
A state of deep rest reduces stress, normalizes the blood pressure, calms down breathing, and helps bring back your body and mind into balance. Activities like meditation, deep breathing exercises, yoga visualization, and rhythmic exercises can help a lot (1).
Different techniques like massage, acupressure, can also help in relaxation but need a support person and not an economical option like Yoga.
You can try different yoga poses that work best for you and elicit the relaxation process. This can help you increase your sleep, reduce stress, boost your mood and energy, and promote the overall wellbeing of your body.
It relaxes the nervous system and helps to cure many neurological disorders (2).
Day to day stressful activities stimulate the sympathetic nervous system, which evokes the flight and fight response of the body.
This particular response prepares your body for survival, whereas yoga stimulates the parasympathetic system of the body and relaxes your mind.
It evokes rest and digest response in your body. It helps to return all the normal functions of the internal organs (3).
People with a back injury and chronic back pain should be cautious while performing different yoga poses. They should take proper guidance from an expert before practicing yoga so that it does not have a deteriorating effect on the body.
Yoga Relaxation Poses
Below are selective yoga poses, you can add more poses of your choice. Make sure you understand the sequence and posture well to avoid any injury due to the wrong posture.
1. Dirgha Pranayama
Dirgha pranayama is very useful to attain calmness. This is also known as the 3-part breathing technique. Breathe in – Hold the breath – Breathe out
How to do
- Sit in Sukhasana and close your eyes.
- Place your hands on the thighs, wrists shall be rested on the knee.
- You can keep the palms open facing the sky or try chin mudra.
- Start breathing in, you will experience breath entering your stomach region, lungs, and throat.
- The deepness of the breath can be as per your own capacity.
- Hold the breath of 4-5 sec and breath out.
- Dirga Pranayama provides relaxation and helps you feel calm and composed.
- It helps you increase your focus and alertness.
- It relieves stress and provides higher oxygen flow to the brain.
One major variation which works wonder in stress is breathing in through the nose and breathing out through the mouth.
Also referred to as knees-to-chest pose, Apanasana is helpful in relieving stress and bring a feeling of relaxation.
How to do
- Lie down on your yoga mat and strengthen the legs and arms.
- Take a deep breath and feel like you have put your entire weight on the ground/mat, you have become lighter.
- While exhaling, pull the knees to the chest as shown in the image below.
- Broaden the collar bones as per your capacity.
- You can hold on to your legs or release the arms to put them beside you on the ground.
- Tuck your chin in the downward position and keep the face straight (in the centerline of the body).
- Hold up for some time, 4-5 sec for beginners, and 10-15 sec for experts.
- Release the legs and arms while exhaling.
- Breath deeply and repeat the above steps.
- It helps improve the blood circulation in the back, stomach, head, shoulder region.
- Reduces bloating and boosts your energy.
- Relaxes mind and the body.
- It improves digestion and relieves gas.
- Increases flexibility.
3. Supta Baddha Konasana
Reclining bound angle pose or Supta Baddha Konasana is a very good yoga pose for thighs, knee, etc. The posture provides relaxation to your body and relieves stress.
How to do
- Lean on your hands and lower your back towards the floor while exhaling.
- While you are leaning back on your forearms, spread the end of your pelvis and release the lower back and upper buttocks.
- Support your head and bring your torso to the floor.
- While gripping the hands on your thighs, press the outer thighs away from the side of the torso.
- Slide your hands away from sides of the torso.
- Widen the back pelvis, push your hips together and lay arms on the floor at an angle of 45 degrees.
- As the groins drop towards the floor, the same will be your knees.
- Stay in the position for some time.
- Press your thighs together with your hands.
- Stimulates organs like ovaries, bladder, kidneys and prostate glands
- Increases the flexibility of thighs, groins, and knees
- Helps relieve stress
- Helps relieve the symptoms of depression, menstruation, and menopause.
4. Viparita Karni
It is a moderately difficult yoga asana with many health benefits. It exerts pressure on your lower abdomen and improves blood circulation.
How to do
- Sit beside the open wall with your hip and shoulder against the wall.
- Lower the torso down to the ground and lift the legs against the wall.
- To release any discomfort, place a pillow under your hips.
- Rest your head on the pillow or ground.
- Stay in the position for 15 minutes.
- Lift your legs slightly and push the feet into the wall.
- Roll to one side return to your seat.
- Relaxes the nervous system and helps relieve anxiety and stress.
- It increases blood circulation and reduces fatigue from the legs.
- It improves digestion and sleep.
5. Supta Matsyendrasana
It provides a good stretch to your spine and back. It relieves the stress from your shoulder region.
How to do
- Lie on the yoga mat with your back flat.
- Press the lower back on the mat and exhale.
- Bend your knees to bring your feet off the mat and inhale.
- Bring together your knees and feet.
- Slowly turn your head towards the right.
- Hold this position and breath normally.
- Press your hand into the floor to release the pose.
- Lift your knees over your chest and inhale.
- Pull the thighs towards the chest and exhale.
- Hold this position for some time.
- Repeat the above steps with the opposite side.
- Aids digestion and improves spinal mobility.
- Relaxes the mind and body.
- Stretches the glutes, chest, and obliques.
- Detoxifies the body and stimulates the internal organs.
- Improves flexibility of the body.
Balasana is a beginner’s yoga asana and helps to get rid of stress and anxiety.
How to do
- Take a yoga mat and sit on your heels over it.
- Keep your legs together or apart.
- Lower your forehead and bend forward slowly to touch the floor.
- Exhale while doing the above step.
- Keep your arms alongside the body.
- Your palms should be facing up.
- Releases the tension built up mainly in chest, shoulders, and back.
- Keeps them away from dizziness.
- Promotes healthy bodily functions.
- Improves blood circulation in the head region.
Cobra pose improves flexibility and blood circulation. It is one of the asanas from the sun salutation sequence and has various health benefits for the stomach, thyroid, etc.
How to do
- Keep your palms flat on the ground under your shoulders.
- Bend your elbows and hug them into the sides.
- Keep your neck neutral and look straight down.
- Inhale and lift your chest off the floor.
- Keep your lower ribs on the floor.
- Roll your shoulders.
- It helps in stretching the muscles in chest, shoulders, and abdominals and loosens the stiffened body.
- Increases body flexibility and mobility.
The corpse pose provides relaxation to every part of your body and simple to practice.
How to do
- Lie flat on your back by keeping legs straight.
- Palms should be facing up and keep arms at your side.
- Relax and breathe deeply by closing your eyes.
- Think your body is relaxed on each inhaling and exhaling.
- Practice for about 3-5 minutes.
- Cures insomnia and improves concentration.
- Enhances the quality of life in the elderly.
- It has a curing effect on people with diabetes, weak mental health, and constipation.
9. Anulom Vilom Pranayama
Anulom Vilom or Nadi Shodhan involves breathe in and breathe out from alternate nostrils. The long breath provides relief from stress and you will experience relaxation.
How to do
- Sit in Sukhasana or padmasana.
- Keep your spine straight.
- Block the right nostril with your thumb.
- Inhale through the left nose for 2 seconds.
- Block both nostrils.
- Hold the breath for 4 seconds.
- Now keep the left nostril blocked and release the right nostril.
- Exhale through the right nose for 2 seconds.
- Block both nostrils and hold the breath for 4 seconds.
- Keep the right nose stuck and release the left nostrils.
- Exhale for 2 seconds from the left nostril.
- Repeat this cycle again.
- Relieves depression and anxiety
- Helpful in the treatment of respiratory disorders like asthma and bronchitis
- Improves concentration, patience, and focus
10. Bhramri Pranayama
Bhramri pranayama is focused on producing humming sounds to relax your mind. This asana helps you reduce the stress level and feel relaxed.
How to do
- Sit up straight and keep your eyes closed.
- Keep a gentle smile on your face.
- Place your index fingers on your ears.
- Place the finger on the cartilage.
- Take a deep breath in and press the cartilage as you breathe out.
- Continue the same for 3-4 times.
- It provides relief from headaches, tension, and anxiety.
- Improves concentration and memory.
- Reduces hypertension.
- Keeps the mind and body calm.
It is not at all difficult to learn the relaxation techniques Try allotting 20 minutes of your day for relaxation and notice the remarkable changes in your daily life, health and well being.