It’s festival time, and along with the festivities comes stress – the stress of getting your house ready, providing for your family and work is always around to up the stakes. Commonly thought of as an innocuous condition that can be ignored, stress can actually wreak havoc on your body. Apart from releasing harmful free radicals, it also damages the body’s immunity and leaves you tired and irritable. So what can you do to beat it? Here are five yoga poses that can help you deal with stress effectively.
Pose # 1 Marjaryasana: Also known as the cat pose, this is a really good way to get rid of all that pent-up tension at the back of your neck. It stretches the back, torso and neck providing a gentle massage to the spine and the organs of the stomach.
How to do the pose:
Position yourself on your hands and your knees. Make sure your legs are directly below your pelvis and your hands are directly below your shoulders. Keep your head in a neutral position with your eyes looking at the floor. Now exhale and round your spine towards the ceiling. Make sure you do not change the position of your hands or raise your hips. Lower your head at the neck gently (leave it loose). You should feel a stretch in your back. If you feel pain, stop. Hold this position for about five counts.
Now, inhale and come back to the starting position. Next, bend your back in the opposite direction, driving your navel to the floor. Point your head gently upwards. You will feel a stretch in your spine. Hold this position for a few counts, and come back to the starting position. You can do this as many times as you feel comfortable. About five times should help you feel better.
Tip: Do not do this pose if you have a spine or knee injury.
Pose # 2 Balasana: Known quite aptly as the child’s pose this is a great stress buster. It gently stretches the hips, thighs, ankles, calms the mind and helps relieve stress and fatigue. It is also a great remedy for that lower back pain you might have from long hours of sitting.
How to do the pose:
Sit on the floor with your weight on your knees. Now flatten your feet onto the floor and sit on your heels. Spread your thighs apart a little. Exhale and bend forward from your waist. Let your stomach rest on your thighs and extend your back. Now stretch out your arms in front of you to elongate the back. You can also rest your forehead on the floor. This may require flexibility, so don’t push your body beyond its permissible limit. It will get better with time.
This is a resting pose so you should ideally breath at a normal pace. You can stay in this pose for as long as three minutes and as little as five counts.
Tip: If you are pregnant, have a knee injury or have diarrhoea do not do this pose.
Pose # 3 Bhujangasana: This aasana has a number of benefits. It not only helps improve your digestion, but is a great way to bust stress. It opens up the chest, lungs and shoulders helping you breathe better. It stretches the spine, stimulates the organs in your stomach and abdomen and also helps beats stress and fatigue. An added intensive for doing this pose is that it gives you a firmer butt by working out the gluteus muscles. And it’s also believed to awaken your kundalini (dormant corporeal energy or feminine shakti) which will make you better in bed!
How to do the pose:
Lie flat on the floor on your stomach. Place your forehead on the floor and your feet flat on the ground. Make sure your feet and heels are slightly touching each other. Place your hands with your palms facing downwards right next to your shoulders with your elbows as close as possible to your body. Make sure they do not flare out. Now, exhale and lift your upper body one part at a time – first your head, chest, then your back and pelvis. At this point make sure your hands are straight and elbows are locked. Make sure your navel is in contact with the floor and you are placing equal pressure on both hands. Now breathe in and out slowly and try to calm your mind. To get out of the pose, breathe out and gently come back down to the lying position. To sit up again, turn to your side and get up with the help of your palms.
Tips: Do not do this pose if you have a wrist injury , are pregnant or have a back injury.
Pose # 4 Anulom vilom: This an easy and very convenient way to calm your mind and get instant stress relief. This breathing technique, keeps your lungs healthy, fights free radicals produced due to stress, helps in the proper circulation of oxygenated blood throughout the body and can help relieve a cold by stimulating the inner mucosal lining. The constant breathing also massages the entire nervous system making you feel much more relaxed.
How to do the pose:
Sit on a mat on the floor. Cross your legs into the padmasana pose. If you cannot fold your knees completely, bend them as much as you can. In case of people with arthritis, they can sit on a wooden chair with a straight back. Now place one hand with the palms facing the ceiling. Place the the thumb of your other hand on one nostril and fold the index finger. Keep the ring finger extended so that it can be used to close the other nostril. Do not lift your elbow too high, your hand will get fatigued after a while. Leave it loose and by your side. Now inhale deeply through one nostril while keeping the other one closed with your finger. Now, open the other nostril and close the one you breathed in with and exhale. This is one cycle. To start the next cycle, breath in through the same nostril that you exhaled out of and repeat the process.
Remember not to slouch or raise your shoulders while breathing in. Also, breathe in deeply using your lungs and try not to allow the air to fill in your stomach.
Tip: This pose can be done by everybody. Just be careful that you do not stress your body out too much. This asana is meant to make you relax not stress you out more.
Pose # 5 Shavasana: Also known as the corpse pose, this is another relaxing pose that allows your body to recuperate. The slow and methodical breathing allows your mind to calm down, lowers your blood pressure and can reduce a headache. It is also a great way to get a good night’s sleep and beat insomnia. (Read: Yoga poses to help you beat insomnia)
How to do the pose: It is as simple as lying down with your palms facing the ceiling. Read about the right way to do shavasna.
Read more about causes, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment of stress.
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Reference: sivananda.org, artoflivingfoundation.com
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