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Stress-Relief Yoga: Ground Yourself and De-Stress with These 7 Yoga Poses

Posted by J'TANICALS Admin on
De-stress with yoga

Do you sometimes feel exhausted? Do you feel stressed and overwhelmed at work and/or in your private life? If you are like most people in the modern world, you probably have trouble falling asleep (insomnia), suffer from back pain and try to use food or medicine as a comfort to compensate for your stressful daily life at least a few times per week. We live also in a new situation due to the pandemic, which puts a lot of stress and strain on our minds and bodies.

If you suffer from the above symptoms, don’t worry you are not alone, and we can learn how to de-stress through simple relaxation and Yoga exercises (Asanas).

How stress affects our mind and body

Stress could put your health at serious risk. Stress hormones are the same ones that trigger your body’s “fight or flight” response. Your heart beats faster, your muscles tense and you are ready for action. This response is genetically designed to prepare your body in an emergency to react quickly to danger. In our modern times this stress response unfortunately keeps occurring day after day, with serious implications for our health. High blood pressure, migraine, stomach-ache, chest pain, insomnia, frequent colds and infections, and also skin problems can be caused by the stressful lives we lead

Stress also affects us emotionally and psychologically. It can cause depression, anxiety, anger, irritability, and problems with memory or concentration. In conclusion, stress is a factor that can lead to imbalances along the entire Brain-Body-Skin axis. On the flip side this means that reducing stress is an effective way to restore balance across our Brain-Body-Skin axis and achieve holistic wellbeing.

How yoga can relieve stress and balance your body and mind

The ancient science of yoga aims to create a balance between body, mind and soul. It is much more than just the physical Asana practice; it has a meditative and spiritual core to it. In the West, Yoga has developed into a posture, physical fitness, stress relief and relaxation technique. That’s why yoga is often used as a way to reduce stress. One of the important elements of yoga is to learn techniques that can help with grounding. What is grounding? Grounding is connecting with the earth physically and spiritually. It gives us a solid base to shift our awareness from our heads into our bodies. In the process of this physical experience, we are forced to live in the present moment, and this experience creates a sense of ease to the mind and stability to the body.

We spend most of our lives in our heads, thinking rather than being. We constantly run through time without being aware of our own bodies and we often lose touch with ourselves. We either live in the past or in the future, but rarely in the present moment. Through grounding techniques, you can connect with the qualities of earth: tranquility, stillness, depth and steadiness, and you relearn to stand with both feet planted firmly into the ground. 

In the following examples I will guide you through breathing techniques and certain Asanas (Postures), that will reconnect your body with mother earth, ease your mind, and reduce stress and anxiety.

1. Sukhasana (Easy Pose) 

Category: Hip Opener, seated Asana

Level: Beginner

Sanskrit Meaning: Sukha = Ease/Pleasure, Asana = Posture

Benefits: Lengthens spine, improves posture, strengthens back, shoulders and chest, opens hips, stretches knees and ankles, increases body awareness and enhances feeling of peacefulness and calmness. 

Easy Pose

Proper Alignment for Sukhasana: 

  • Relax your face muscles (lower and upper jaw)

  • Straighten your back, and let the crown of your head lift you upwards, keep neck in line with spine

  • Open your chest and pull your shoulders down (away from the ears)

  • Legs in comfortable crossed legged position

  • Rest your hands on your knees or in a mudra position

  • Close your eyes and take a slow deep breath in through your nose, feel your belly rise, breath out slowly letting everything go, feel your belly flatten, repeat 10 times

2. Tadasana (Mountain Pose)

Category: Fundamental Standing Pose 

Level: Beginner

Sanskrit Meaning: Tada = Mountain, Asana = Posture

Benefits: improves posture and body awareness, helps with grounding, strengthens legs, enhances mental awareness

Mountain Pose
Proper Alignment for Tadasana: 
  • Activate your body (muscles are active) 
  • Root down your feet and calves into the floor

  • Big toes are touching, heels slightly apart

  • Lengthen the spine and crown of the head upwards

  • Arms hang actively alongside the body

  • Shoulders move down

3. Uttanasana (Standing Forward Bend)

Category: Forward Bend, Inversion 

Level: Beginner 

Sanskrit Meaning: Uttana = intense stretch, Asana = Posture

Benefits: reduces stress, anxiety, and fatigue, can help with depression, calms the mind and soothes the nerves, strengthens thighs and knees, relieves tension in the spine, neck and back

Forward Fold

Proper Alignment for Uttanasana:
  • Leg muscles fully engaged

  • Bring shins, knees and thighs in a vertical line

  • Weight even on both feet

  • Pull the navel towards the spine 

  • Trunk folding over the legs from the hips not the waist

  • Relax your neck and head

4. Utkatasana (Chair Pose)

Category: standing Pose

Level: Intermediate

Sanskrit Meaning: Utkata = Powerful, fierce, Asana = Posture 

Benefits: promotes focus, acceptance and inner power, balances the body and brings determination in the mind, strengthens the legs and thighs, helps with grounding

Chair Pose

Proper Alignment for Utkatasana:
  • Stand in Tadasana and place your feet slightly apart

  • Stretch your arms above your head, keep your shoulders relaxed and away from ears

  • Bend your knees and push down your pelvis, as if you are seated on a chair

5. Virabadhrasana II (Warrior 2)

Category: Standing, Hip Opener

Level: Beginner 

Sanskrit Meaning: Vira = Friend, Hero, Bhadra = Friend, Asana = Posture

Benefits: Develops balance and stability, improves focus, energizes the body, increases body awareness and improves the mind-body connection, helps with grounding

Warrior 2
Proper Alignment for Virabadhrasana II:
  • Bend front knee and maintain knee alignment directly above the ankle

  • Back leg is straight

  • Torso is centered between front and back foot

  • Weight is distributed evenly on both feet

  • Heels in one line, with back foot 90 degrees

  • Hips are open 

  • Hands are parallel to the floor, stretched forward and backwards 

  • Shoulders move down, away from ear

6. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-Facing-Dog)

Category: Inversion, Full-Body-Stretch

Level: Beginner

Sanskrit Meaning: Adho = Downward, Mukha = Face, Svana = Dog, Asana = Posture

Benefits: calms the mind and the nervous system, calms the brain because the head is brought down towards the earth, reduces anxiety and panic attacks, can help you sleep better at night (insomnia), helps to relax, can reduce depression if practiced regularly, this Asana has the ability to bring your mind to the present moment, stretches hamstrings, calves, hands and feet, strengthens shoulders, arms wrists and legs

Downward Facing Dog

Proper Alignment for Adho Mukha Svanasana: 
  • Hands should be shoulder distance apart

  • Feet are hip distance apart 

  • Rotate your upper arms externally 

  • Neck, head and spine in one line

  • Draw the navel towards the spine, engaging the lower belly 

  • Send your hips up in an upside-down V 

  • Bend your knees for more length in your back

7. Savasana (Corpse Posture)

Category: Lying down 

Level: All Levels

Sanskrit Meaning: Sava= corpse, Asana= Posture 

Benefits: effective way for conscious surrender, provides deep relaxation, improves memory, focus and concentration, reduces stress, headache and fatigue, grounding effect

Corpse Pose

Proper Alignment for Savasana:

  • Lie on your back with your legs straight and your arms at the sides of your body (palms of your hands facing upwards)

  • Allow your body to sink into the ground and your breath to occur naturally

  • Relax your face, shoulders and tailbone and feel the weight of your body getting grounded

  • Close your eyes, relax, and invite peace and silence into your body, mind and soul.

About the author: 

Sarah Khalifa is our J'TANICALS Yoga & Meditation Expert. She started practising Yoga in 2013 and completed her yoga teacher education in India at Sampoorna Yoga School for Body, Mind and Soul. With her holistic approach to yoga, Sarah aims to help others balance the contradictions of life through combining quietness and movement in her practice.

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