Do These Relaxing Yoga Poses to Help You Forget About the Election
With most of us on a roller coaster of emotions right now, it’s worth taking a step back to find some zen in your life. Not only is yoga an excellent workout . . . it also relieves stress and cultivates peace of mind. Sounds that just like what the doctor ordered.
Here are a few basic yoga poses to help you get off the couch, turn off the political updates, and channel your thoughts and emotions into a more positive space:
From a seated position, slowly lift your legs into a V shape. Depending on the level of intensity you’re looking for, you can either keep the knees bent or extend your legs straight. Hold the position for 5-10 breaths. Repeat the pose until you complete 4 to 5 sets.
This pose not only strengthens your abdominal wall, but also your hip flexors. Use deep conscious breathing to connect mind and body and empower you in this pose.
How it helps: Boat Pose is challenging and requires your full focus. It’s also strengthening, so you’ll find and feel your power during and after you practice it. Boat Pose reminds us of our inner strength and resilience – a great way to combat the post-election stress and uncertainty.
Crescent Moon Pose
Stand straight and extend your arms overhead, interlacing your fingers and releasing the index fingers. Bring your feet together, heels and toes touching with your weight in your heels.
With an inhale, extend your spine and on an exhale, hinge over to the right side, keeping shoulders stacked above hips. Keep your feet grounded and your glutes and legs engaged. Stay here for 5 breaths, then repeat on side two.
How it helps: Crescent Moon Pose opens your side body and improves core strength, balance, and concentration. This pose helps you feel expansive. It’s a physically lengthening and strengthening pose, and practicing it will help you gain strength, resilience, and a more open mind.
Start seated with your legs crossed in Easy Seated Pose. Plant your left palm behind your back and bring your right hand to your left knee. On an inhale, sit up tall, and on an exhale, begin to twist from the base of the spine.
Breathe into this pose for 30-60 seconds before switching sides. Seated Twists detoxify and rehydrate the spinal column. They help release tension in the back and neck and counteract the sitting we do each day.
How it helps: Twists are detoxifying for the body, and will help move any stale, stagnant, or negative energy through you and out of you. Twists are also a great way to gain a different perspective, because when we shift the focus, we shift our entire mindstate.
Seated Forward Fold
Sitting on the floor with your legs extended in front of you, activate your leg muscles by pressing the backs of your legs into the floor. Flex your toes towards your face to keep the legs engaged.
If you have tight hamstrings, consider putting a bolster or blanket underneath your tailbone. You can check your alignment by practicing the pose with your back against a wall. Hold this pose for about a minute, breathing deeply.
How it helps: In Sanskrit, this seated forward fold is called Paschimottanasana, or the Great Western Stretch, and symbolizes letting go of the past as you stay present in the moment. It helps ground us, soften and open us, and helps us let things go.
When you finish your above pose (the Seated Forward Fold), plant your palms behind you, with your fingers pointing towards your feet. Take a deep breath and lift your hips upward while simultaneously letting your head fall back. Note that the hips should be doing the movement while the arms are only acting as support.
Breathe in and out normally for 30 seconds before slowly lowering yourself back down. Reverse Plank will increase circulation, and strengthen and tone.
How it helps: This is another strengthening pose that lets you feel your power. By letting the head drop back and the heart open skyward, it’s a gentle inversion and heart opener, so you’re getting stress relief and cultivating a sense of wellbeing simultaneously.
Legs Up the Wall
Ideally for Legs Up the Wall Pose, you’ll use a bolster or a thick blanket that you can place beneath your lower back. However, this isn’t necessary – you can perform this pose with or without props, and with or without a wall.
The easiest way to get into this pose is to start on your side, then roll onto your back and swing the back of your legs onto the wall. If you’re using a bolster or blanket, it should support your lower back.
Your sits bones don’t need to be touching the wall, but do allow the back of your legs to rest against the wall. If you’re doing this in the middle of the room, allow your legs to stack above your hips, and they’ll be able to float with relative ease. You can stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 15 minutes.
How it helps: Keep your palms up to receive energy or place your palms against the floor to feel grounded. Legs Up the Wall is renowned as one of the most relaxing and stress-relieving poses, and it also helps soothe anxiety and headaches.
Savasana, also known as Corpse Pose, will be the perfect end to this relaxing yoga sequence. The most important part of Savasana is to quiet your senses. Return to normal breathing, allow your tongue to soften away from the roof of your mouth, and with your eyes closed, relax all your muscles.
You can stay in this pose anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes. When you’re ready to exit the pose, gently roll over onto one side, and stay here for a few breaths. Then, gently bring yourself into a comfortable, seated position.
How it helps: Savasana will help you relax your mind and your body and allow your stress to melt away. After completing this pose, you will emerge from this practice feeling calmed, at peace, and renewed.
Yoga is meditation in motion, and both meditation + yoga are excellent, proven ways of reducing stress and anxiety, and calming mind and body. Therefore, your yoga practice can help you get through this time of uncertainty and work through stress and anxiety in a healthy way.
When all the aspects of you become more balanced, more peace of mind naturally follows. We cultivate a more positive and calm demeanor, and the things that seemed to cause aggravation and stress before seem easier to face and work through.