5 Yoga Moves to Help Alleviate Stress

Yoga coach Gwen Lawrence, author of Body Sculpting with Yoga and Teaching Power Yoga for Sports, shows us five yoga poses designed to keep sane in the toughest of situations.

To enable you to keep your life, your anxiety, and workouts on track, she focuses on ways to alleviate your stress and stay life ready with yoga. This uncertain time of social distancing and self-isolation can cause loneliness, anxiety and stress levels to skyrocket which can plague you and make it even more challenging. How long will this situation last? Will my loved ones stay healthy? Even stepping up to home-school your children without proper training puts the mind and body at risk.

The body is equipped to handle small bursts of stress. Modern life has put us in the situation to combat stressors all day long and that’s not good! From breathing to simple moves, no matter what your fitness level, these essential yoga moves from Gwen will help you eliminate the pressure and be more productive, happy and successful.

 

DIAPHRAGMATIC BREATHING

First of all, the root of all stress relief is proper breathing. It is critical to learn diaphragmatic breathing to lower and eliminate stress levels. In layman’s terms this means breathing in and out through the nose only and deep down into the belly. This type of breathing actually shuts down the flight or fight response and allows you to calm down and to give much needed rest to the body.

Keys to the pose:
* Sit up tall or lie down comfortably.
* When learning, keep the hands on your belly, so you are more in tune with the belly breathing.
* Keep your chest still and feel the air move in and out through the nose.
* Do this for at least three minutes.

 

ARM UPS

This is a yoga move that helps you tune into the rate of breathing and the specifics of diaphragmatic breathing. You can literally claim your personal space and pump the breath. You can feel the nice effects of warming the entire body especially the arms and shoulders. An added benefit to this is upper body toning and is even said to help eliminate anger.

Keys to the pose:
* Start seated on the floor or in a chair, you can even do this standing.
* With your arms out straight, inhale your arms all the way up, palms face up; exhale the arms down palms face down.
* You can play around with long deep breathing, or quicker more forceful inhale, exhales.
* Do this for 1-3 minutes.
* When you want to stop, don’t! Dig deep, arms straighter, and move through.
* Essentially think jumping jack arms while seated.

 

SEATED TWISTS

Yet another yoga move to help the body and lungs breathe deep. This move can also help tone the shoulders and arms with the added benefit of helping to align the spine and twist the body to make the body function better.

Keys to the pose:
* Start in seated easy cross leg or on a chair that does not have a back to inhibit your movement.
* Bring your arms into a position that resembles a goal post, 90-degree angles in the arms.
* The entire time keep the elbows at shoulder height, shoulders down out of your ears, and fingers extended.
* Find a rhythm with your breathing.
* It is important to keep the back very tall and straight so you can accomplish the deepest twisting.
* If you can twist the head with the body, do that. If you tend to get dizzy, look at a spot on the floor out ahead of you enough that you are maintaining a chin parallel to the floor.
* Do these 1-3 minutes depending on your ability.

 

OPPOSITE ARM OPPOSITE LEG

This move is a way to cultivate the diaphragmatic breathing techniques and stretch the hamstrings at the same time. It also helps warm the shoulders and feel the body get heated, perfect to get ready for your day.

Keys to the pose:
* If you tend to have back issues, start doing this pose with slight bend in the knees.
* Start with your arms over your head and legs extended; press your low back into the floor.
* Alternate touching the right hand to the left leg, and vice versa. Ultimately when the hamstrings are nice and flexible you will be able to touch the toes.
* Keep your head flat on the floor and relaxed the entire time.
* Exhale when the arm leg goes up; inhale when the arm leg goes down.
* Do this move 1-3 minutes.

 

ROCK AND ROLLS

Top off your stress busting routine with this simple and fun move. This move is like being 8-years-old again. You will feel a nice massage effect on the entire spine (sometimes I get self inflicted spinal adjustments when doing this). This move also helps stimulates the spine, elongating it and restoring your energy and vitality in the process. If you do nothing else, do this move 3 minutes a day.

Keys to the pose:
* Start on your back, on a nice padded floor or mat so your spinal bones do not grind into the floor.
* Bring your knees into your chest and wrap our arms around the back of the thighs, not over the shins, to protect knee health.
* Start vigorously rocking and rolling, all the way back to the back of your head, and all the way up to seated.
* Get into an appropriate rhythm with the breath that feels good to you.
* Do this move 1-3 minutes and sneak a smile on your face too.

Be consistent, patient and most of all Be Great!

 

 

GWEN LAWRENCE has been a practicing fitness professional since 1990. She owns Power Yoga for Sports and works with athletes in professional basketball, football, baseball, hockey and soccer, as well as Olympians and collegiate champions. Her writing appears in Men’s Health, Women’s Health, Fitness, Shape, and Yoga Journal and has been a frequent visitor on The Today Show and The Dr. Oz Show. She is the author of Body Sculpting with Yoga and Teaching Power Yoga for Sports. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram @gwenlawrence and at gwenlawrence.com.