A regular yoga practice is known to keep you fit and help you loosen the body, but it’s equally important in reducing stress and keeping the mind in the present. There are different types of yoga, as well as components to each practice, including a physical component—moving meditation—and seated meditation. Depending on the type you choose, it can have different effects on your mind and body. Here are some poses that can help reduce anxiety and quiet the mind.
Meditation is an ancient practice of living in the present moment. To practice traditional seated meditation, find a comfortable seat on the ground with the eyes closed. Observe your mind and any thoughts that pass through. Don’t judge the thoughts, but rather notice them and let them go. Focus on your breath, extending inhales and exhales at a steady pace.
Seated Forward Fold
This pose is often incorporated into yin and restorative yoga practices because it stretches, lengthens and relaxes the body. Sit on the ground with your legs straight in front of you. Hinge at the hips and lower your torso to the legs, aiming to touch your belly and thighs. Bend your knees as much as possible so that the belly rests on the thighs, activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Reach the spine long and grab onto the sides of your feet, calves, or the back of thighs—or let hands rest on the ground beside you.
This is a combination of several poses and is a very common sequence used in yoga. It’s a great way to warm up the body and connect with your breathing. Strong focus on the breath is key in yoga, since meditation and healing begin when we are tapped into our breathing. Here is a video of how to do Sun Salutation A, the most basic—but still very physically demanding—sun salutation. To begin, repeat the sequence 3-5 times.
You will often see babies and toddlers sleeping in this position, as it is a natural way for the body to relax. Kneel on the floor and sit your hips back to touch your heels. With your knees wide or touching, melt the torso over the thighs, belly resting on or in between the thighs, arms reaching out long in front of you, or back beside the body, fingertips reaching behind you.
For a restorative variation, have the knees wide and put a pillow or blanket between them to rest the body on. You may need to stack up the pillows to find the most comfortable position.
Legs Up The Wall
This is a great restorative pose and stress reliever. Lie on your back near a wall and scooch your bum close to the wall so it’s touching it (you may want to bring your knees into your chest for this part). Then extend your legs up the wall, placing your body in a 90 degree angle. Rest your hands on your belly or by your sides. This is a good pose to hold for longer periods of time to really feel the effects.
Feature Image: Matt Madd