As women, we do it all. With families and careers, it is hard to take time out of your day for yourself. Here is thing: you should.
A few minutes in the morning or evening is all you need to do these ten yoga poses that will help decrease your stress levels, lower your heart rate, and stimulate your digestive organs, giving your mind and body the peace that it needs.
By: Landon Funk
As a yoga instructor with certifications in power and trauma, I have worked with a variety of students from children to abuse victims to college students to mothers and everything in between. By far, these ten yoga poses are the most beneficial in relieving stress.
1. Child’s Pose
On your mat, stand on your knees. Spread your knees so that they are at the edges of your mat, but keep your big toes touching. Then, sit your down on your heels and relax your torso down onto your mat. Reach your arms toward the top of your mat. Child’s pose grounds us while activating our hip flexors, one of the primary places where our bodies store emotion.
2. Mountain Pose
Stand up at the top of your mat. Bring your big toes to touch, but do not lock your knees. Then, reach up toward the sky with your arms, spinning your pinky fingers in toward one another and relaxing your shoulders down your back. Engage your core for extra stimulation. This pose is essential to any yoga practice. While it seems simple, it releases much needed testosterone that fuels our positive sense of self.
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3. Upward Facing Dog
While in a plank position on your mat, pull your chest through your hands. In upward dog, keep your legs off the ground, using only your hands and the tops of your untucked feet to support you. Relax your shoulders down your back and look up. This position will open you up for whatever emotions arise during your practice while simultaneously strengthening your shoulders and abdominal muscles.
4. Downward Facing Dog
From a plank position, push your hips up toward the sky so that your heels are just barely unable to touch the mat. Press firmly into your palm, specifically your thumbs and pointer fingers. Maybe peddle out your legs. A position of surrender, downward dog is an inversion that places your heart above your head and calms your cardiovascular system.
5. Warrior II
From a lunge position, spin your back foot down so that it is parallel with the back edge of your mat. Face your front foot forward (the heel of your front foot should be perpendicular to the arch of your back foot) and keep your leg at a ninety-degree angle. Reach your arms long, and gaze out over your front middle finger. Repeat on the other side. This pose will make you feel powerful as your whole body is engaged.
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6. Reverse Warrior
From Warrior II, take your front hand and “high five the back wall.” Place your back hand around your waist, and always maintain that ninety-degree angle in your front leg. Repeat on the other side. As a heart opener, this position stimulates your digestive organs and increases your flexibility.
7. Tree Pose
While standing on your mat, firm through your left leg. Place your right foot on your left ankle, shin, or thigh (just be careful to avoid your knee). Your hands can come to prayer at heart’s center, reach above your head, or whatever you want them to do. Repeat on the other side. Tree helps us with balance and focus while forcing us to engage our core.
8. Sleeping Pigeon
From downward dog, bring your right foot to the base of your left hand. Relax your right knee down so that your right leg is in the shape of the number seven. If this is enough for your hips, stay here. If you are looking for more, relax your torso down over top of this front leg, coming down onto your forearms or all the way outstretched (above). Repeat on the other side.
Our hips store a lot of our emotion, and pigeon helps to release the tense fascia in our joints as well as the sadness, anger, and stress we have stored there.
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9. Camel Pose
Come to standing on your knees, and place your hands on your low back as if they were pushing your hips forward. Slowly start to lean back. Only go as far back as your feel comfortable, and, when you are ready, grab for your heels. Make sure your hips keep pushing forward as your torso moves backwards. A very powerful heart opener, camel makes you vulnerable but also stimulates your digestion. Be careful because a lot of people feel nauseous in this pose, so only go back as far as your stomach will let you!
10. Happy Baby
Lay down on your back and stick your feet in the air. Then, grab the inside edges of your feet with your hands so that your arms are being hugged by your legs. Roll around or just stay here. Happy baby works out our lower backs and is a nice counter exercise to the hip openers.
Have you tried any of these yoga poses? Do you feel a difference in your body? Share with us in the comments!