Feeling stressed after a hectic day? Nervous about your exams?
Maybe it’s worth taking a few minutes each day to recharge your system with (yes) yoga.
Here are a few poses that will help you unwind. And you don’t even need to go on a spa vacation to get into your chill zone.
Sanskrit name: Vriksasana
How to do it: Place your right leg on the inner side of your left thigh. Fix your gaze (or drishti) gently on one unmoving point in front of you. Stand tall and make sure your hips are aligned so you are standing in a straight line. Inhale as you raise your hands over your head in prayer. Take a few slow, deep breaths and repeat with your left leg.
Good for: Toning legs and abdominal muscles, building self-confidence and esteem and helping you focus.
Sanskrit name: Tadasana
How to do it: Stand with your feet together and your arms by your sides. Breathe slowly and deeply and focus on your breath. Tuck in your tailbone slightly, but try not to round your back. When you are ready, inhale as you elongate through your torso and lift your hands to the sides. Stretch your hands as far as possible, broaden your shoulders and lift your heels. Exhale as you return to start position. Repeat a few times.
Good for: Strengthening thighs and knees while relaxing your body.
3. Standing half lotus
Sanskrit name: Padma vriksasana
How to do it: Place your right leg on top of your left thigh as you shift your weight on to your left foot. Like the tree pose, fix your gaze on an unmoving point and hold your hands in prayer in front of your chest. Stand tall and make sure your hips are aligned. Take a few slow, deep breaths and repeat with your left leg.
Good for: Opens up your hips to give you better postural alignment and helps calm your mind.
Sanskrit name: Badhakonasana
How to do it: Sit on the ground, bend your knees and bring your feet together in front of you. Open your feet up so your knees are close to the floor (or touching the floor if you are super flexible). Use your muscles to press your knees down, draw your belly button in and lengthen your spine. Relax your shoulders as you gaze towards your feet and gently move your knees up and down (like the wings of a butterfly), while taking slow and deep breaths. Repeat a few times.
Good for: Hips and lower back. The gentle movement of your knees is also helpful in de-stressing.
5. Thread the needle
Sanskrit name: Parsva balasana
How to do it: Get on your all fours. Slide the right hand between the left hand and left knee and keep stretching your arm as far as possible until your head rests on the floor. Extend your left arm as far as possible. With each breath, try going deeper with your stretch. Hold for a few breaths and exhale back to all fours. Repeat on the other side.
Good for: Shoulders, arms, upper back and easing tension around the neck.
6. One-legged pigeon
Sanskrit name: Eka pada rajakapotasana
How to do it: Get down to all fours. Slowly inch your hands forward as you slide your right foot forward to the back of your left wrist. Push your left leg back so it’s in a straight line. Bring your torso forward and stretch your hands as far as possible, until your head touches the floor. Your right heel should be just in front of the left hip. Take a few slow and deep breaths and then change sides.
Good for: Opening your hips and stretching your back. Also helps with anxiety.
Sanskrit name: Balasana
How to do it: Start in a kneeling position. Then slowly, move your chest towards your knees and your glutes towards your heels. Then stretch your arms as far as possible, pulling your shoulders to the ground and rest your forehead on the mat. Take a few slow and deep breaths.
Good for: Spine, hips, lower back and helps to calm your body when you feel stressed.
8. Legs up the wall
Sanskrit name: Viparita karaniasana
How to do it: Extend your legs up towards the ceiling, as you lie on your back. Make sure your heels are stacked over the hips, and your back is fully on the floor. Extend your arms to your side, with your palms facing upwards. Breathe slowly and deeply and stay as long as you want.
Good for: Improving blood circulation and finding restorative balance.
9. Knees to chest
Sanskrit name: Apansasna
How to do it: Lie on your back with your arms spread and legs pointing outwards. Bring your knees to the chest and wrap your hands tightly (but not too tight) around them as you exhale. Keep your back flat by drawing your tailbone towards the mat to lengthen your spine. Broaden your collar bones and then gently rock from side-to-side and then backward and forward for a few breaths.
Good for: Releasing excess digestive air and bloating. The rocking movement massages your spine and is particularly good for soothing your mind.
10. Supine twist
Sanskrit name: Jathara parivartanasana
How to do it: From your knees-to-chest pose, exhale as you bring your knees over to the left with arms out by your side and palms facing up. Make sure your knees are close to your arms as possible and both your shoulders are pressing down on the mat. Breathe into the twist, releasing tension with each exhale. Stay here for a few breaths and then switch to the other side.
Good for: Stretching your oblique muscles and more importantly, helping you relax.
11. Reclining bound angle
Sanskrit name: Supta baddha konasana
How to do it: Bring the soles of your feet together and let the knees naturally drop out towards the sides. With each breath, see if you can let your knees go a bit further down. Sink deeply into your mat as you slowly breathe in and out a few times.
Good for: Relaxing your hips and calming your mind.
Sanskrit name: Shavasana
How to do it: Lie on your mat, with your hands by your sides, palms facing upwards and feet pointing outwards. Close your eyes, clear your mind of any unpleasant thoughts as you take a few deep breaths. Slowly, let your breathing return to normal as you relax into the pose.
Good for: Calming the brain, relieving stress and helping with mild depression.