Community//

Yoga Poses for Stress Relief During COVID-19

As COVID-19 continues to spread we’ve all experienced change and stress in our lives. Social distancing is a term many of us had never heard of, but are now using multiple times a day. Races have been cancelled as well as our usual outlets for stress like gyms, fitness studios and group runs. But there […]

As COVID-19 continues to spread we’ve all experienced change and stress in our lives. Social distancing is a term many of us had never heard of, but are now using multiple times a day. Races have been cancelled as well as our usual outlets for stress like gyms, fitness studios and group runs. But there are things we CAN do when confined to our homes, and luckily yoga is one of those things. In addition to being a form of exercise that doesn’t take up much space or equipment, there are specific poses that can help reduce stress in the mind and the body.

Three-Part Breath

Deep breathing is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety and manage stress. One of my favorite techniques is called “three-part breath” which literally breaks the breath into three parts which by nature requires some focus and allows you to slow down. You can practice three-part breath at the beginning of your yoga practice to get you grounded, or use it as a technique to calm yourself whenever you need it.

First, find a comfortable position. An upright seat or reclined back in shavasana or Supta Baddha Konasana (a.k.a. butterfly — knees wide, feet together). Then, close your eyes and start to focus on each breath. Focus on the breath moving into your belly, ribcage, and chest — these are the three parts of the breath. Feel the expansion on your inhale, and the compression as you exhale. 

Feel free to place your hands directly on the areas you breathe into and repeat the process as many times as you’d like.

Standing Forward Bend

Whether you’re working from home or sitting in front of the TV, there’s no doubt that your body is feeling some stress. We hold a lot of this stress in our shoulders and neck. Use this pose to release that stress. 

Stand with your feet hip width distance apart and fold over your legs. Allow your knees to bend enough so you don’t feel any tension in your lower back and take any arm variation you’d like (reach for opposite elbows, interlace hands behind your neck, or reach hold of your feet). Let your head and neck completely go and if it feels right, gently nod your head yes and no to further release tension in the neck.

Downward Facing Dog

This staple yoga pose is a staple for a reason! It’s an inversion while also allowing the spine to lengthen and the legs to stretch — releasing tension throughout the body. Come into the pose from a table top position, then tuck your toes and send your hips to the ceiling. Create a generous bend in your knees to release tension in the hamstrings and relax the head, sending your gaze to the back of your mat. If you are experiencing stress in your hips, lift one leg and then the other to open the hips. If your calves are tight, you can bend one knee and then the other.

Half Pigeon 

If you complain of tight hips, you are definitely not alone! Many people hold stress in their hips which makes it even more important to focus on them during times of stress. Half Pigeon targets the outer hips and glutes and can be pretty intense! To adapt the pose for your body, use blankets or pillows to prop up your hip or to rest your head on. 

To get into the pose (from downward facing dog), send one leg forward and bring your shin parallel to the front of your mat. Send your back leg long and press your hip forward and down. If your front hip is really elevated, use those props! You can stay lifted or fold forward. 

Legs Up the Wall  

Missing all the props from your yoga studio or gym? Well here’s a pose that comes with a prop we all have — a wall! Legs up the wall is a gentle inversion that will increase circulation in the body while lowering your heart rate and reducing stress in the body. 

To get into the pose, set up next to a wall or even the headboard of your bed or side of your couch. Send your legs straight up the wall and bring your hips as close to the wall as feels comfortable (on your hamstrings). From there, you can relax the arms, close your eyes, and relax.

Supine Twist

The lower back is another area in the body where tension likes to sit. There are many twists that you can practice, but a supine twist is a little more restorative and gentle on the body.

Lay flat on your back, hug your knees into your chest, reach your arms out wide to a tee, and then let both knees fall over to one side (repeat on both sides). Keep both shoulders connected to the earth and enjoy the unwinding sensation.

Shavasana

Whether you’re ending your yoga practice, or just need a reset in your day, shavasana is the perfect pose. Completely relax your body on the floor or your mat and focus on your breath. This is the ideal time to come back to your three-part breath and enjoy stillness for a few moments!

During these times of stress, it can be really easy to let our anxiety take over. But taking just a few minutes to move your body or meditate can make a world of difference. So roll out your mat and enjoy a little “me time.” 

Stay healthy. Stay home.

The Thrive Global Community welcomes voices from many spheres. We publish pieces written by outside contributors with a wide range of opinions, which don’t necessarily reflect our own. Learn more or join us as a community member!
Share your comments below. Please read our commenting guidelines before posting. If you have a concern about a comment, report it here.

You might also like...

Community//

Dr. David Samadi’s advice on turning stress into serenity in the midst of COVID-19

by Dr. David Samadi
Community//

You have the power to reduce your stress around COVID-19

by Fran McEvoy
Yoga For Stress Free Life
Community//

10 Best Yoga Poses for Relieving Stress after Exhausting Work Day

by Kumar Ujjwal

Sign up for the Thrive Global newsletter

Will be used in accordance with our privacy policy.

Thrive Global
People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

We use cookies on our site to give you the best experience possible. By continuing to browse the site, you agree to this use. For more information on how we use cookies, see our Privacy Policy.