Relax & Relieve Stress with Yoga

Preparations for the holidays are ramping up. Between running the kids to school; rocking your fulltime job; and planning, shopping, and cleaning for the upcoming gatherings, you’re feeling stressed and burnt out. Insomnia and anxiety are your new best friends.

We’ve got some good news! You can lower your anxiety and soothe yourself into a restful state each night with nothing more than a pair of leggings and a yoga mat (and in some cases a couple of sweet yoga props too). Studies show that a regular yoga practice has major potential health benefits including the ability to reduce heart rate and blood pressure and relieve anxiety and depression.  A regular regimen of yoga poses followed by meditation makes for a stress-relieving practice and better night of sleep.

relaxing yoga poses

Add this yoga sequence to your evening routine for some serious R+R.

Sukhasana (Cross-legged Pose)

Begin in a comfortable cross-legged seated position. Rest your hands on your thighs, close your eyes and take five deep, slow breaths. Sit on a folded blanket or pillow for added comfort.

Cat and Cow

Come forward onto your hands and knees with your back in a neutral position. Proceed with five rounds of Cat/Cow. Start by pushing your palms into the ground and rounding your back towards the ceiling on your next exhale. Pull your belly button towards your spine and tuck your chin towards your chest for your full cat pose. On your inhale, release your chin and your stomach and arch your back into Cow. Do this series of moves four more times and then return to neutral spine.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
downward facing dog yoga pose
Photo courtesy Yoga Journal

 

Spread your fingers wide and press firmly into your mat. Exhale as you tuck your toes, lift your knees and reach your thighs up towards the ceiling. Your heals reach the floor and you straighten your legs the best that you can. Feel free to pedal your feet as needed and then find stillness in the pose. Hold for to two minutes.

Sukhsana Forward Fold

Return to your cross-legged sitting position by coming to your hands and knees on an exhale. Inhale and extend through your spine. Exhale and walk your hands out in front of you while keeping your seat on the floor until you come into a folding forward position. You can use a pillow, folded blanket or block to rest your forehead on if needed. Take several rounds of deep breaths and return to seated after approximately two to three minutes.

Knees to Chest

Come to a lying position on your back with your legs extended next to each other and your arms extended by your side. Exhale as you draw both of your knees to your chest and clasp your hands around them. Release your tailbone and sacrum toward the mat and extend your spine. Hold for one to two minute and release.

Supta Ardha Apanasana
half knee yoga pose
Photo courtesy Yoga Journal

 

Exhale as you draw both of your knees towards your chest and hold them again. This time release, extend, and lower your left leg to the ground on and exhale. Take three deep breaths and switch legs. After three more deep breaths extend both legs on the ground and your arms by your side on an exhale for an additional three rounds of breath.

Reclined Twist

Bend your knees with your feet flat on the floor. On an exhale draw both knees to your chest but keep them at a 90-degree angle. Extend your arms on the floor in a t-shape with your palms facing the ground. Shift your hips towards the right, and on an exhale lower your bent knees towards the left side of your body. Turn your head to look at your left hand. Reverse the action on the opposite side. Do three rounds of this cycle and then bring your feet to the floor on and exhale.

Viparita Karani (Legs up the wall)

Go to the nearest wall. Begin by sitting with the left side of your body against the wall. Turn your body towards the left (into the wall) so that your legs go up the wall and your back lays flat on the floor. Adjust your distance so that you’re comfortable, close your eyes and focus on your breathing for approximately five minutes.

Savasana

You can either stay with your legs up the wall or move to a flat back for savasana. In savasana, lie on your back with your legs straight and arms at your side. Let your feet drop open and close your eyes. Relax all of the muscles throughout your body and bring your awareness to your breath and clear your mind. Remain in this state for five minutes minimum.

To leave the pose, roll gently to your right side and res for a moment. On an inhalation, gently press yourself to a comfortable seated position, bringing your head into an upright position last.

Lauren of Nourish Yoga leading RecTennis players through some poses on court

 

If you enjoy this sequence, consider checking out classes at a local studio in your area. Our favorites are Nourish Yoga in Hermiston, Oregon, and b e y o u t i f u l HOT YOGA in Spokane, WA. Yoga just might become your favorite thing to do after your next game of tennis.