Stress affects our health in many ways including sleep problems, poor digestion, lack of mental focus, low energy levels, and anxiety. It obviously doesn’t make sense to try to reduce stress in our lives but this is often easier said than done. Well, have you tried yoga at home?
Yoga can help reduce stress and de-stress…
However, a simple yoga practice can alleviate the effects of stress on our health.
By adjusting our breath, we stimulate the body’s built-in relaxation response; By slowing down and taking a break from our daily grind, we also have a valuable opportunity to reflect and shift our mental outlook. Simply changing the way we react to our stress can have a profound effect on our health and wellness.
The yoga sequence below focuses on melting the muscle tension around the neck, shoulders, and back that builds up with stress.
Simple meditation centered on breathing is also included as well as options for customizing the poses to do from your office chair (and that means no excuses!).
I know from personal experience that when stress levels are high, we convince ourselves we don’t have time to spare for yoga.
However, meditation has been shown to increase efficiency and productivity. So, no matter how busy you are, it’s worth taking just a few minutes to focus on your breath and reduce stress.
You may be surprised to feel as a result of this practice that time is actually on your side. Here’s the full sequence with the asanas broken down below:
(Photo credit: Joshua Oldfield)
Release the trap and tighten the neck
To get started, find a comfortable seat on your yoga mat or chair. If you are sitting on the floor, sit on the edge of a blanket or on a block. Bend your knees to cross your right leg in front of your left and place your feet under your knees.
If you are sitting in your office chair, make sure your feet are firmly on the floor (slide forward on your seat if necessary) and sit with a long spine.
Extend your left arm to the side and gently lower your right ear to your shoulder to feel the stretch on the left side of your neck and above your shoulder. If you want to increase the intensity, you can bend your right arm over your head.
Take 5 full deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Jomokasana Arms – Shoulder Lift
If you are sitting on the floor, go ahead and cross your left leg in front of the right this time, or stay seated.
Extend your right arm over your head and bend your elbow so that your hand is gently touching the back of your neck.
Hold your right elbow with your left hand. Your back may arch as you take your arm over your head; If you feel strain in your lower back, pull your front ribs toward your spine to help reduce arching and pressure.
Take 3-5 breaths, then switch sides.
Now take your right arm behind your back. Depending on your mobility here, your forearm will remain on your lower back or your hand may walk over your spine, between your shoulder blades as shown in the photo. Use your left hand to grab your right forearm or elbow.
Stay here 3 to 5 breaths. Gently release and take a moment with your arms on either side of your torso before repeating the pose on the other side.
This can be powerful. Go slowly and back down if you feel any pain.
I especially like this extension for people who sit in front of computers for hours on end.
This stretch targets the outer rotors of the arm which can often be narrow and weak due to the constant bad posture of the computer.
From a seated position on the floor, place your left hand on your right knee and your right hand on the floor behind you. Extend through your spine as you inhale and twist to the right as you exhale. Hold for 3-5 breaths, then switch sides.
If you roll from your chair, sit tall and put your feet firmly on the floor. Hold the back of the chair with your right hand and the side of the chair with your left hand. Inhale to lengthen the spine, and exhale as you twist to the right.
Hold for 3-5 breaths, then switch sides.
Gentle twists rejuvenate the spine and internal organs. They help lubricate the intervertebral discs in the spine that can get irritated from excessive sitting during periods of extreme stress when we tend to work day and night.
By gently applying pressure to the abdominal organs, twists can also help improve digestion.
Garudasana – Balanced Eagle Pose
Now come to a standing position with your feet hip-width apart. Cross your right arm under your left arm, bend your elbows and bring your forearms toward each other. If you can, touch the insides of the palms together as well. Then bend your knees and cross your right leg over your left.
Focus your eyes on one point and try to find your balance.
Take 3-5 breaths here, then switch sides.
Finding consistency in poses helps enhance the clarity and focus we struggle to find when stress levels are high.
You have the option here to do only the arm part of this pose while sitting in your office chair. I recommend raising your elbows and shin slightly to get more stretch in the upper back.
From a standing position, feet hip-width apart, bend your knees frequently as you fold forward.
The key here is to bend your knees as much as you personally need to in order to position your belly on your thighs. Put your hands on the floor or if you’re comfortable, grab two opposite elbows. Drop your head and relax your neck completely. Imagine your spine rolling toward the ground like a waterfall.
Take 3 to 5 breaths in this position.
At Work – You can still benefit from this front fold by doing it in your seat. Move forward so that you are sitting on the edge of your chair. Place the abdomen on the thighs and put your hands on the floor.
Front folds have a calming and calming effect on our nervous system. It is also an opportunity to check our mental outlook as we close our eyes and turn the gaze inward.
Take a moment to think about your stress levels. Is there somewhere in your life you are exaggerating or exaggerating? What would be possible if you moderated your reaction or your efforts?
This pose removes tension in the side of the body and creates space between the ribs, making it easier to take deeper, soothing breaths.
At home: Lie on your back. Without lifting your hips off the floor, walk your legs and upper body to the right side to form a banana-like shape with your body. If you are comfortable, place your left ankle over your right and interlace your hands. The intensity of this stretch will increase, so start slowly at first until you become more familiar with the pose.
Stay here for 5-10 breaths.
To get out, slowly straighten your legs and slowly make your way back to center. Pause for a minute with your arms at your side to notice any sensations or differences from side to side. Then repeat on the other side. When you finish on the left side, go back to the middle but this time stay here for 5 minutes if you can finish your practice.
At work: Stand with your feet hip-width apart. On the inhale, interlace your fingers and roll your palms to face the ceiling as you reach into your arms. Exhale and bend to the right side.
Take two extra breaths here. To get out of this position, on the inhale, return to the center and when you exhale, bend to the left. Take two more breaths, then return to the center and release your arms by your sides.
Find a comfortable seat again and close your eyes. Start by noticing the movement of your breath in your body. Take 3 or 4 rounds of breath, simply watching for the sensations. Then count your inhale and exhale for the same number. For example, if you count to 4, exhale for a count of 4.
Do two more rounds of inhale and exhale with the same number. Now start making the exhale longer than your inhale once or twice. With our example, you will now exhale to the count of 5 or 6.
The key here is to remain calm and relaxed and not overexert yourself – just extend your exhalation to what is comfortable for you. Repeat for two more rounds. Next, return to normal breathing without counting or manipulating the breath. Again, note the sensation of breathing in the body.
Note the effect of meditation on your state of mind and your general sense of health.
To finish this practice, think about how to get your yoga practice off the mat (or your chair!). Take a few moments to visualize one or two easy-to-manage changes you can make at work or at home to reduce your stress levels.
With so many stresses we face in our lives or in the office, it is always good to take the time to find your center.
Yoga at home or in the office is a great way to tackle the daily grind while increasing your flexibility and improving your mood.
Another great way to relieve stress through yoga is to use an alternative method called aerial yoga aerial yoga hammock In your home or office. It opens the door to new and alternative styles of yoga and comes with a host of stress-free relaxation benefits.
So, next time drama in your life or in the office frustrates you, try this awesome yoga sequence to reduce stress and de-stress!