We’ve all been there: it feels like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day to finish your to-do list, and no amount of caffeine can relieve the stress that seems to grow exponentially by the hour. In those moments, I find yoga to be an incredibly helpful stress reliever. Yoga is a great way to slow down a bit and clear your mind. Just ten minutes of yoga helps me to feel more relaxed and return my focus to my schoolwork. Here are five easy yoga poses to try at home if you’re ever feeling stressed.
Child’s Pose: A common resting pose, child’s pose can be a great way to calm a racing mind. It’s a fairly straightforward pose and requires very little flexibility. Rest your forehead on the mat and focus on your breathing. If you’re comfortable, push your hips backwards and extend your arms further to get more of a stretch, but the pose should still be relaxing, not painful.
Cat–Cow: A great stretch for your back and shoulders, as well as an easy way to clear your head. Start on all fours. Slowly arch your back and stretch your head backwards (cow), then reverse directions and curl your back upwards (cat). Try and breathe slowly, so that you inhale as you move in cow pose and exhale as you move into cat.
Downward Dog: Typically used as a resting pose during yoga classes, downward dog tends to be a bit of stretch for beginners. To ensure your body is in the right position, start from a plank pose, both hands flat on the floor and arms straight, with your feet shoulder width apart. Keeping your hands and feet where they are, shift your weight backwards and lift your hips up.
Happy Baby: To get into the pose, lie on your back and bend your knees into your chest. Start by grabbing your calves and pull your legs apart, keeping them bent. If you can, reach for your ankles or the edges of your feet, but only if you can keep your shoulders open, stopping them from curling towards each other. Rock gently from side to side.
Shavasana: Extremely calming and centering, shavasana is often used to end a practice. It’s super simple: just lie down on your back with your arm relaxed out to the side, palms up. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing, and the way your chest rises and falls. Try and completely relax all of your muscles, scanning your body from head to toe for any tension. Remain in this position for about 10 minutes, or as long as you’d like. Bring yourself out of shavasana by making small movements with your hands and feet, eventually rolling over to your right side, curling your right arm and resting your head on it.
Yoga is an amazing stress reliever, but it’s not for everyone, and there are certainly cases, especially where stress is more long term, where yoga can be a supplemental aid at best. But for those of us who are simply having a tough week, yoga can be a small escape from the hectic outside world.