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Yoga Poses for Stress Relief

posted on February 12, 2007 at 10:55 AM


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No matter what a person's flexibility or fitness level is, Maggie Rooney suggests trying these three yoga poses when feeling stressed.

Child's Pose, or Devotional. It's allowing ourselves to ground or connect with the earth. There's several options for the arms. They can be overhead, by your side or behind your back -- whatever feels most comfortable for the student. There's also the option of opening up the knees, which provides just a little more space for either the chest or the stomach, so the person can be a little bit more comfortable, or if they have a little bit tighter hips. That way the forehead can come down a little bit more towards the earth.

The next pose is Uttanasana, or Standing Forward Fold. The most important thing is to be grounded through the feet. From there, it's just whatever feels comfortable for you with the arms. You can let the body hang, rock from side to side, or you can also reach for opposite elbows. Some people working a little bit deeper are going to reach for the back of the legs, drawing the forehead closer to the shins.

You want to work with drawing the belly up as you fold forward. We want to imagine our bodies like a rag doll hanging over a chair, so that we're releasing and strecthing the back of the hamstrings in a very gentle and soft way. It's a great stretch, because it's one that can be done throughout the day, despite what your job is. It doesn't matter where you're at; you can just fold over and allow your day to wash away. It's very rejuvenating for the brain.

We always come out very, very slowly and relax the shoulders back.

The final pose is Legs Up the Wall. The key is to sit literally sideways up against the wall and take one leg up at a time. That way the glutes are right up against the wall, and the hamstrings can feel that full extension up. Again, the hands can be anywhere that's comfortable for the student: either by your side, rest them on your stomach, or overhead for a little bit of a shoulder stretch. Take the legs up and allow the nice little drain of the blood down. Close the eyes and just breathe.

All three of the poses are wonderful for relaxation and can be done with no equipment whatsoever, in pretty much any place that you'd like to do it.

Tags: exercise fitness health Iowa yoga

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