5 Yoga Asanas to Ward Off Stress

This article originally appeared on Yoganonymous.com.

Image via Vogue Archives

Image via Vogue Archives

Life will always find a way to wind you up, but it’s up to you to create the time to wind down.

From dinners, to festivities, to productive work schedules powered by proactive people—we’re all on overdrive. So what do you do when you can’t just drive out of town? Take time to drive your butt over to your yoga mat.

These five poses are perfect for those moments in life where you just need a moment to breathe. Each pose works in its own unique way to get your stress to move and flow out of you, so that you can be at your best, no matter what comes your way.

Five Asanas to Ward Off Stress

1. Legs up the wall pose

When you are standing, when you are sitting, and when you are moving—your body is powering your action with adrenaline. Yes, adrenaline. It’s that flight or fight chemical reaction, and it literally stresses you out. It pushes the blood toward your extremeties, giving energy to your muscles so that you can take flight, or fight. So, reverse that adrenaline action by reversing your blood flow.

Going into legs up the wall pose is the easiest way to bring more blood back into your brain, which will calm and soothe you. Stay in this posture for 10-15 minutes, and then continue on with your day. Easy as one, two, three.

2. Cat-cow pose

Oh, the lovely cat-cow. This hybrid animal posture opens up your back for added flexibility and healing. Get into this pose when you need to open up, and let go of tension and stress. The breathing associated with this pose will calm you down, and the gentle movement in the spine will help calm down spinal cord activity that is sending signal waves to your adrenal glands. As you slow down, and bring movement into the body, you’ll find that your body and mind start to work together to melt away stress and tension.

3. Thread the needle

Where do most people hold their stress? Their neck and shoulders! Unwind that stress by squeezing out head, neck, and shoulder muscles through thread the needle pose. When you go into a gentle twist, like thread the needle, your muscles ring themselves out the same way you ring out a dirty sponge. All of the toxins fly out, and your muscles open up for new, fresh fluids to fly in. Give your body a helping hand by sending in some fresh fluids (ie. purified water with a cucumber slice). It will give your muscles and mind the refreshing detox that they so need.

4. Crow pose

This pose requires energy, but the message here isn’t to wind down. The message is to flip your perspective. Bring the blood flow back into your brain, your eyes, your ears, and your face—open up the blockages, and look at it all from a new point of view. Many times, stress is caused by inefficiencies, or a missing puzzle piece, so change your perspective to try to view it from a bird’s eye view (no pun intended). You may find the answers you were searching for…

5. Breath of fire

Stress is real. It’s easy to try to stay optimistic about life, or try to take the most balanced approach to everything—but let’s be honest: You will at one point have real stress in your life. Instead of trying to avoid it, or stop yourself from attracting it, own it, prepare for it, and be smarter than it.  

Build your energy up with breath of fire. This easy asana will help build your energy levels, cleanse out toxicity, and will strengthen your sense of self (this pose exercises your lower chakras that deal with home, career, stability, creation, and personal power). As you strengthen who and what you are, you will be able to do more with your internal magic in the outside world. You've got this.