Yoga has become phenomenally popular over the last decade, and none more so than in the last few years as the pandemic saw more people stressed, depressed, and addicted, and only the home to exercise from.
The nature of yoga is a very calming one. It’s the reason why many medical professionals prescribe it in rehab clinic or at physiotherapy sessions, it’s calming, good for concentration, and brilliant at relieving stress.
And that’s the case whether you’re an expert or a complete novice. Of course, if you are the latter and thinking about practicing yoga, you’re going to need to know where to start. So, here are the 12 best yoga poses for you to destress…
1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Child’s pose is a gentle, restorative yoga posture that helps to calm the mind and relieve tension in the back, shoulders, and neck. To perform the pose, start by kneeling on the floor with your toes touching and your knees apart. Lower your torso down to rest on your thighs, and stretch your arms forward.
2. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
Standing forward bend is a great pose for releasing tension in the back, neck, and shoulders. To perform the pose, stand with your feet hip-distance apart, and fold forward from your hips, letting your head hang heavy. You can bend your knees if needed to release any tension in the hamstrings.
3. Legs Up the Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
Legs up the wall pose is a restorative yoga posture that can help to reduce stress and anxiety. To perform the pose, lie on your back with your legs up against a wall, creating a 90-degree angle with your body. You can place a pillow under your head and neck for support.
4. Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
Cat-cow pose is a gentle yoga flow that helps to relieve tension in the spine and neck. To perform the pose, start on your hands and knees with your wrists under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. Inhale and arch your back, lifting your head and tailbone. Exhale and round your spine, tucking your chin to your chest.
5. Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Corpse pose is a relaxing and restorative yoga posture that can help to reduce stress and anxiety. To perform the pose, lie on your back with your arms and legs extended. Let your body sink into the floor, and focus on deep, slow breathing.
6. Tree Pose (Vrikshasana)
Tree pose is a standing yoga posture that helps to improve balance and focus. To perform the pose, stand with your feet hip-distance apart, and shift your weight onto your left foot. Place your right foot on your left thigh, and press your palms together in front of your heart.
7. Warrior II Pose (Virabhadrasana II)
Warrior II pose is a standing yoga posture that helps to release tension in the shoulders and hips. To perform the pose, stand with your feet wide apart and turn your right foot out to the side. Bend your right knee, and extend your arms out to the sides, keeping your gaze over your right fingertips.
8. Extended Triangle Pose (Utthita Trikonasana)
Extended Triangle Pose is a standing pose that stretches the hips, hamstrings, and spine. It can also help to relieve tension in the shoulders and neck, which can contribute to stress.
To do this pose, start in a wide-legged stance with your feet about 3-4 feet apart. Turn your right foot out to a 90-degree angle and your left foot in slightly. Inhale and reach your right arm up towards the ceiling, then exhale and reach your right arm forward towards your right foot. Place your right hand on a block, the floor, or your shin, and extend your left arm toward the ceiling. Hold for 5-10 breaths, then repeat on the other side.
9. Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
Fish Pose is a backbend that can help to open the chest and release tension in the upper back and neck. It can also help to calm the mind and reduce anxiety.
To do this pose, lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet on the floor. Lift your hips slightly and slide your hands underneath your hips, palms facing down. Press your forearms and elbows into the floor and lift your chest towards the ceiling. Release your head back towards the floor or a block, and hold for 5-10 breaths.
10. Seated Forward Bend with a Twist (Marichyasana III)
Seated Forward Bend with a Twist is a seated pose that stretches the hamstrings, hips, and spine. The twist also helps to release tension in the upper back and shoulders.
To do this pose, sit with your legs extended in front of you. Bend your right knee and place your right foot on the floor, with your heel close to your right buttock. Inhale and lift your left arm towards the ceiling, then exhale and twist to the right, placing your left elbow on the outside of your right knee. Place your right hand behind you on the floor or a block, and hold for 5-10 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
11. Plow Pose (Halasana)
Plow Pose is an inversion that can help to calm the mind and reduce stress. It also stretches the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings.
To do this pose, lie on your back with your arms by your sides. Lift your legs towards the ceiling, then exhale and lower your legs towards the floor behind your head. If your feet do not touch the floor, support your hips with your hands or place a block underneath your hips. Hold for 5-10 breaths, then slowly release.
12. Camel Pose (Ustrasana)
Camel Pose is a backbend that can help to open the chest and release tension in the upper back and shoulders. It can also help to improve posture and increase energy levels.
To do this pose, kneel on the floor with your knees hip-width apart. Place your hands on your lower back, fingers pointing down. Inhale and lift your chest towards the ceiling, then exhale and slowly lower your hands towards your heels. Keep your hips over your knees and avoid crunching your lower back. Hold for 5-10 breaths, then slowly release.