Life can be testing at times. Between work commitments, a global pandemic and that date who hasn’t texted you back (we’ve all been there), you’d be forgiven for saying you feel a little stressed out right now.
While there are a whole heap of ways to address a tense mind, one of the more effective approaches – that also happens to feel pretty great for your body – is yoga.
As Forbes has reported, a New York University Grossman School of Medicine study found that 54 per cent of people who took regular yoga classes (in this case, Kundalini yoga) saw “meaningfully improved symptoms” of generalised anxiety disorder.
The improvement was lower than those who took part in cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) but it was still a pretty impressive finding. Now, while it’s always a good idea to speak to a mental health professional about any significant difficulties you may be experiencing with stress and anxiety, mindful tasks like yoga can also help pull you out of the hamster wheel in your mind and reduce everyday stress.
Sarah Routhier of yoga studio BodyMindLife explained that “Yoga can calm the mind and create body awareness which allows us to connect to our needs. When we regulate the highs and lows of life through yoga practices we manage our stress before it becomes a problem”.
Routhier offered three poses that she feels are ideal for helping reduce tension and for promoting a sense of calm. It’s worth pointing out, however, that you should always pay attention to your body when trying new activities, and seek out professional guidance if you’re unsure.
3 yoga moves to help you de-stress
“Forward folds are incredible poses for grounding and calming the body and mind, while twists are quite balancing,” Routhier explained.
“The following sequence is restorative in nature and can be done before enjoying a yoga nidra if you want to take a few extra steps to reduce stress and induce a calm state before bed.”
Gentle twist with a bolster or pillows:
“Setting up knees to one side lay your belly and chest over a set up of pillows and/or bolster. For extra support and comfort you could place a blanket over your legs and under your head. This pose brings a stretch to the back and spine while gently massaging the abdomen. Do this pose for about three to eight minutes on each side.”
Supported crossed legs (Sukhasana):
“Sitting on a small blanket or folded mat, cross your legs and take the ankles any amount in front of the pelvis that is comfortable. Then fold onto a bolster/pillow or a chair if you need something a bit higher and allow the head to rest.
“This will not only stretch the outer hips/glutes but the forward fold will lightly stretch the back and rest the mind. Set a timer for about five minutes and repeat with the other leg in front.
“If the legs go tingly or numb gently lean back and allow the legs to release before trying again and adjusting the legs a bit closer or resting on a higher support, if this does not fix it please discontinue for now.”
“This pose can be done laying on a bed or on the floor as long as the legs can comfortably be supported by a wall. You might like to place a pillow or bolster under the hips and a blanket under the head. It is also quite nice to cover the eyes with an eye pillow or shirt and an extra touch of comfort is to place a blanket on the belly.
“This pose is amazing for reducing the effects of stress on the body and decreases swelling/inflammation in the legs. A great pose to decompress after a long day. This pose can be done for five to 10 minutes and be gentle leaving the pose. Slowly slide the legs down the wall, wait a whole minute before turning to your side and completing your practice.”
Routhier added that these poses are particularly good to try before heading off to bed. If you’d like to use these moves to help you set off to bed, she suggested spraying some lavender oil and simply rolling into bed after your practice.
Want more self-care tips? Check out this guide on what self-care looks like in 2021, according to Pinterest trends.