Top 3 Yoga Poses For Stress

Lets talk about Yoga for stress. When teaching, I create lesson plans that flow without music, in a way that is accessible to my students. This means, for every pose that we explore, I empower you by teaching you the options available to you within that posture. I don’t care what it looks like, but I 100% care what it feels like, to you and for you. These top 3 yoga poses will change your stress levels, trust me.

However, in my own personal practice, I love to find a musical score that speaks to my heart and soul. My practice looks like it’s been choreographed, but it hasn’t. I listen to my body and flow from one to the other in a way that feels good for my body. I don’t plan it; I just go with what my body calls for. It’s heavenly. In time, your practice may look and feel like this too.

When our cortisol levels are elevated and we feel overcome by stress, Yoga targets the 3 key areas that are often affected. Our body, mind and breath. By giving ourselves the grace to take time out

Modern Day Yoga For Stress Is Evolving

The incredible thing about modern-day Yoga is that it’s personal to YOU. Yoga for stress in my coaching, is designed just for you. What I would recommend is that you ignore the social media images as they may not be what your mind and body are calling for. If your aim is to achieve a handstand, then absolutely practice and work towards that. But it’s not what is has to be.

I teach my students how to adapt your practice to your body. That could be by using a chair, a stall, a scarf instead of a resistance band, the wall, blocks, the list is endless. I also teach using household items so that you don’t have to go and splash the cash on equipment.

By looking at some Yoga classes or social media posts, you may not see how accessible it can be. But trust me, it really opens up the Yoga journey once you discovers these alternatives.

When I’m overwhelmed, stressed, anxious, or just had a rubbish day, I go and do the below for a few minutes. It doesn’t need to be long. I just give myself permission to submit to the emotion, breath, and work on letting it all go.

When I’m battling with my own mental health, getting on the mat can be hard. Even though I know, that when I do it, I’ll feel so much better. So do not let it haunt you if you don’t get on that mat one day. Just turn the page and move onto the present day, without judgment of yourself.

My Top 3 Favourite Yoga Poses…Are you Ready?

Forward Fold Pose (Uttanasana)

Target area: Stretches the hamstrings, calves, lower back, and glutes.

How does it help relieve stress?: Yoga for stress activates the relaxation response (your parasympathetic nervous system) and deactivates the stress response (your sympathetic nervous system)

Benefits: Oxygenates the brain and reduces fatigue, aligns spine and neck, improves digestion and is a calming, inward-turning pose.

Practical Benefits: Reduces the tightness in your lower back and improves flexibility around your lower back muscles. It’s especially effective for people who perform the following: walking, running, or exercises that focus on the lower back. Where we are folding down, it also is an excellent oxygenator to the brain.

I like to do this when I’ve been sitting for a period of time or I’m feeling super tired.

The Technique: 

Begin in Mountain Pose.
Bend the knees slightly and hinge forward from the hips.
Fold forwards and reach the hands towards the mat or place the hands flat with your fingertips in line with the toes. You can also use blocks here to place your hands on. A bolster in front of you also works well. I also demonstrate to students how a chair can be used here. You can rest your hands on the seat.
Keep a slight micro-bend in the knees or bend the knees fully (depending on flexibility). 
Allow the head, shoulders, and neck to soften.

Tips: Standing in the forward fold is focused on the lengthening of your Spine.  I find it beautiful for my spine to gently twist side to side, but I’d only recommend this if you feel sturdy on your feet.

Mountain Pose (Tadasana)

Basic standing pose. This is a great yoga pose to start your practice with, to get your body accustomed to the proper posture required in every yoga practice. It’s also great to be mindful in this pose and just check in with your body and see how it’s feeling. If we carry the mountain pose into daily life, we will support our posture and prevent back pain and aches.

Target Area: Full body.

How does it help stress?: By increasing your awareness on breath control, relieves stress and anxiety and allows your body to settle into calmness.

Benefits: Improve posture, release shoulder tension, properly engages the core and increase body awareness. 

The Technique: 

Come to a standing position at the front of the mat.
Bring the feet together and allow the big toes to touch, keeping a little space between the heels. You can also have your feet apart, just see what feels good for you.
Ground down through all four corners of the feet, distributing the weight evenly.
Feel the natural lift in the arches of the feet. 
Engage the thighs by lifting the kneecaps slightly up towards the quadriceps.
Gently pull the navel towards the spine to engage the core muscles.
Arms rest by the sides of the body with the palms facing forward.
Depress the shoulders away from the ears and soften them. 
Lift up through the crown of the head.
Keep your gaze soft and focused in front of you.

Tip: Form a straight line from your pubic bone to your shoulders to engage your core. Engaging your core is where we pull the belly button in towards the spine. For us women, it’s the same feeling as if we were holding a flow of urine.

Cat Cow Stretch (Bitilasana)

This is a perfect dynamic stretching pose that you should try before every Yoga practice or even between your working hours to give that Spine good blood circulation. 

Target Area: Spine.

How does it help reduce stress? The breath coordination to the movement helps focus the mind and lower cortisol levels.

Benefits: Relieves back pain, improves spine mobility, prepares the Spine for physical activity.

 I love this to stretch my back, chest, and neck. I find it particularly welcome in the morning when I wake up all stiff. Especially in Fibromyalgia flare-ups. It also strengthens and immobilises the shoulder girdle.

The Technique: 

Begin in a Tabletop position which is where you are on all 4’s. You may wish to place a rolled-up towel under your knees for support and if you have carpel tunnel or a painful wrist, it can be a comfort to have a rolled-up mat or towel for the heel of the hand to rest.
Make sure your knees are set directly below your hips and your wrists directly below your shoulders. 
Bring your head and neck into a neutral position, elbows unlocked and elbow creases facing each other. 
COW – Arch the back gently (spinal extension) allow the belly to lower, lift the sit bones upwards and lift the gaze (Inhale). 
CAT – Rounding the back (spinal flexion) press up with the shoulders, curl the tailbone underneath, and gaze down (Exhale).


Make this movement as slow and consistent as possible.
Deepen your breath. Your length of breath should match the time it takes you to move from cat (rounded back) to cow (arched back).
Limit the arch if you have lower back pain.

THEN Melt Into The Earth

Once I’ve done these, I take myself into supported Corpse Pose (Savansana) or Childs pose (Balasana) and just enjoy the sensation of the body melting into the earth below me, feeling rooted, safe and ready to take on the day once again.

This Yoga for stress strategy of my top 3 moves is the foundation of what you can expect from me. Give #My-Top-3-Favourites a go and let me know what you think.

Love & support always, Hannah

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