The stress rate in America hovers around 60% (the actual percentage varies depending on the stressor). That means that almost half of our society suffers from something that can have catastrophic effects on our well-being. Stress can cause a whole slew of health problems: headaches, muscle fatigue, stomach problems, sleep problems, irritability, depression, anger, substance abuse and more. A lot of my clients have really high stress lives and yoga is by far my go-to activity to help them with stress reduction. The benefits of yoga for stress release have been well documented. Many doctors have even turned to prescribing a yoga practice. Yoga engages the parasympathetic nervous system, lowers cortisol levels, decreases blood pressure, lowers anxiety, inhibits fear, aggressiveness and rage and so much more. These are my four favorite yoga poses for stress relief. They are restorative poses that calm the body and mind. Hold each pose for at least 60 seconds, connect to your breath and feel your stress melt away.
This practices can be a powerful tool for stress relief. Research shows that meditation can provide tangible improvements in anxiety, depression and stress. This is my go-to simple meditation. You can literally do it anywhere and you will feel its stress relieving benefits almost immediately.
1) Sit comfortably, with your back straight, try not to lean against anything.
2) Close your eyes and begin to notice your breath.
3) Be fully aware of the inhale and exhale. Pay attention to the physical sensations in your body.
4) Begin to observe your thoughts as they come and go.
5) As your mind begins to wander, take your focus back to your breath.
6) Don't worry about the future or the past, just focus on the present moment.
7) Continue your inhale and exhale.
8) To start, try this exercise for 5 minutes. Slowly increase in duration as you become more comfortable.
Forward Bend (melted heart)
This simple pose allows you to turn off stimulation from the world for a few minutes while releasing your hamstring and hip muscles.
This pose is a simple, effective hip opener that will allow you to release any built up emotional tension that may be causing you stress.
Goddess on Blocks This luscious restorative heart opener helps to deepen your breath, balance your emotions and curtail fatigue, insomnia and stress.
Legs up wall
This gentle inversion will help you feel relaxed almost immediately by calming the nervous system and re-circulating your blood and lymphatic fluid.
I always tell my clients that being healthy isn’t just about doing yoga or eating plants. Viewing wellness, including stress relief, from a holistic perspective is super important. Following the below philosophies helps me and my clients feel lighter and happier in my day-to-day.
Nourish your body by filling your plate with a variety of fresh organic fruits, vegetables, fats, proteins, grains, nuts and seeds rich in color, vitamins and minerals. Eating a nutritious diet will help stave off additional stress caused by symptoms of a poor diet.
Staying hydrated keeps all of your systems operating properly and keeps stress at bay.
Exercise of any kind, including yoga, has so many relaxing and mood elevating benefits including the reduction of stress hormone levels.
4. Head outside
Going outside lowers stress hormone levels and activates the parasympathetic nervous system, which calms the body and mind.
In my experience, cultivating a daily meditation practice is one of the best ways to alleviate stress.
Spending too much time online can cause stress in numerous ways. Take some time each day to unplug from your phone, social media, tv and the internet.
Carve out some time each week to spend quality time with your loved ones.
Sleeping more will keep your stress levels down. Shoot for 8-9 hours a night.
9. Practice mindful eating
Taking time to truly savor your food can help you get in touch with the things that really matter.
10. Enjoy a warm cup of herbal tea
Herbal teas like chamomile and peppermint can help you ease tension. Taking the time to disconnect and truly enjoy the act of drinking your tea will take its benefits to the next level.
11. Use essential oils
Essential oils like lavender and chamomile can enhance relaxation. I like to use oils during yoga, meditation or right before bed.