Driving your kids from soccer practice to piano
lessons, meeting deadlines at work, and heading for the kitchen to make dinner
after a grueling day at work.
Stress and anxiety are everywhere. If they're getting the best of
you, you might want to make like a downward-facing dog or a cobra and try yoga.
Yoga offers an invaluable solution for stress
management and relaxation. Left unchecked, stress can lead to a variety of
health problems, including headache, insomnia, back pain, burnout, weight gain,
anger and substance abuse. Yoga, with its quiet, precise movements can draw your
focus away from your busy, chaotic day and more on the calming moment as you
move your body through poses that require balance and concentration. Below are
few asanas which are particularly good for countering the harmful effects of
stress in your body.
All pictures used in this article
are courtesy of Yoga Journal.
Step by Step
Stand in Tadasana, hands on hips. Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints,
not from the waist. As you descend draw the front torso out of the groins and
open the space between the pubis and top sternum. As in all the forward bends,
the emphasis is on lengthening the front torso as you move more fully into the
If possible, with your knees straight, bring your palms or finger tips to the
floor slightly in front of or beside your feet, or bring your palms to the backs
of your ankles. If this isn't possible, cross your forearms and hold your
elbows. Press the heels firmly into the floor and lift the sitting bones toward
the ceiling. Turn the top thighs slightly inward.
With each inhalation in the pose, lift and lengthen the front torso just
slightly; with each exhalation release a little more fully into the forward
bend. In this way the torso oscillates almost imperceptibly with the breath. Let
your head hang from the root of the neck, which is deep in the upper back,
between the shoulder blades.
Uttanasana can be used as a resting position between the standing poses. Stay in
the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute. It can also be practiced as a pose in
Don't roll the spine to come up. Instead bring your hands back onto your hips
and reaffirm the length of the front torso. Then press your tailbone down and
into the pelvis and come up on an inhalation with a long front torso.
(Maharishi Bharadvaja is one of seven
legendary seers, credited with composing the hymns collected in the
Step by Step
Sit on the floor with your legs straight out in front of you. Shift over onto
your right buttock, bend your knees, and swing your legs to the left. Lay your
feet on the floor outside your left hip, with the left ankle resting in the
and lift through the top of the sternum to lengthen the front torso. Then exhale
and twist your torso to the right, keeping the left buttock on or very close to
the floor. Lengthen your tailbone toward the floor to keep the lower back long.
Soften the belly.
your left hand under your right knee and bring your right hand to the floor just
beside your right buttock. Pull your left shoulder back slightly, pressing your
shoulder blades firmly against your back even as you continue to twist the chest
to the right.
can turn your head in one of two directions: continue the twist of the torso by
turning it to the right; or counter the twist of the torso by turning it left
and looking over the left shoulder at your feet.
every inhalation lift a little more through the sternum, using the push of the
fingers on the floor to help; with every exhalation twist a little more. Stay
for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then release with an exhalation, return to the
starting position, and repeat to the left for the same length of time.
bhujanga = serpent, snake
Step by Step
Lie prone on the floor. Stretch your legs back, tops of the feet on the floor.
Spread your hands on the floor under your shoulders. Hug the elbows back into
Press the tops of the feet and thighs and the pubis firmly into the floor.
On an inhalation, begin to straighten the arms to lift the chest off the floor,
going only to the height at which you can maintain a connection through your
pubis to your legs. Press the tailbone toward the pubis and lift the pubis
toward the navel. Narrow the hip points. Firm but don't harden the buttocks.
the shoulder blades against the back, puffing the side ribs forward. Lift
through the top of the sternum but avoid pushing the front ribs forward, which
only hardens the lower back. Distribute the backbend evenly throughout the
Hold the pose anywhere from 15 to 30 seconds, breathing easily. Release back to
the floor with an exhalation.
Step by Step
Start on your hands and knees in a "tabletop" position. Make sure your knees are
set directly below your hips and your wrists, elbows and shoulders are in line
and perpendicular to the floor. Center your head in a neutral position, eyes
looking at the floor.
As you inhale, lift your sitting bones and chest toward the ceiling, allowing
your belly to sink toward the floor. Lift your head to look straight forward.
Exhale, coming back to neutral "tabletop" position on your hands and knees.
Repeat 10 to 20 times.
This pose is often paired with
Cat Pose on the exhale for a gentle, flowing vinyasa.
Step by Step
Lie supine on the floor, and if necessary, place a thickly folded blanket under
your shoulders to protect your neck. Bend your knees and set your feet on the
floor, heels as close to the sitting bones as possible.
Exhale and, pressing your inner feet and arms actively into the floor, push your
tailbone upward toward the pubis, firming (but not hardening) the buttocks, and
lift the buttocks off the floor. Keep your thighs and inner feet parallel. Clasp
the hands below your pelvis and extend through the arms to help you stay on the
tops of your shoulders.
your buttocks until the thighs are about parallel to the floor. Keep your knees
directly over the heels, but push them forward, away from the hips, and lengthen
the tailbone toward the backs of the knees. Lift the pubis toward the navel.
Lift your chin slightly away from the sternum and, firming the shoulder blades
against your back, press the top of the sternum toward the chin. Firm the outer
arms, broaden the shoulder blades, and try to lift the space between them at the
base of the neck (where it's resting on the blanket) up into the torso.
Stay in the pose anywhere from 30 seconds to 1 minute. Release with an
exhalation, rolling the spine slowly down onto the floor.