This Yoga Flow Can Help Ease Stress and Anxiety
Mix mental strength with physical gains in this soothing yoga sequence.
Set your wellness intentions for the new year by trying out some healthy habits—like a consistent yoga practice. These poses, curated by Sangeeta Vallabhan, a yoga instructor at the Connective online platform and Yoga Vida in New York City, should calm your mind and restore your energy. “All of these poses can help people feel more present in their body and will definitely move them in the direction of reducing stress and anxiety, as well as any sadness or anger,” she says.
Vallabhan suggests following this flow in a quiet space, with soft music. She also recommends going into the workout with the mindset that you’ll use this time to take care of yourself. “Move in a way that feels comfortable, without straining the body or your breath,” she says.
Vallabhan first turned to yoga in college, and seven years ago she began to study trauma-informed yoga. She says she’s learned that slowing down her practice—doing smaller movements, paying attention to each inhale and exhale—and not having a tangible goal in mind (besides maybe getting grounded) can help deepen the mind-body connection and guide you through tough times. Use these poses to build a practice of your own at home.
Seated side bend
Sit on a yoga block or the floor with legs crossed. Place right hand on floor to right side of legs. Reach left arm up and overhead, bending from the waist to the right. Look up toward the sky, and hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Then switch sides.
(A) From a plank position, lift hips back and up. (B) Press hands and feet into the ground as hips continue to move toward the sky. Knees can be straight or slightly bent. Hold for 5 breaths.
Extended side angle
Stand with feet wide apart, right foot forward and toes pointing forward, left foot turned in about 45 degrees. Bend right knee to 90 degrees, thigh parallel to floor. Lean sideways at the waist, bringing right forearm to right thigh or right hand to a yoga block set outside of right foot. Extend left arm straight up to the sky or alongside ear, opening chest. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Repeat on the other side.
Stand with feet wide apart, right foot forward and toes pointing forward, left foot turned in about 45 degrees, both knees straight. Lean sideways from the hips, reaching right arm down and placing right hand on right shin or on a yoga block set outside of right foot. Reach left arm up to the sky. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Repeat on other side.
Stand with feet wide apart, right foot forward and toes pointing forward, left foot turned in about 30 degrees. Bend right knee to 90 degrees, thigh parallel to floor. Extend arms out to sides, palms down, reaching right arm forward and left arm backward. Hold for 5 breaths. Then switch sides.
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Start on side, right hand placed under right shoulder, hips and ankles stacked. Lift hips to create a straight diagonal line from shoulders to hips to ankles, and reach for the sky with left hand. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths. Then switch sides.
Start in a push-up position, shoulders over wrists, creating a straight line from shoulders to hips to heels. Engage core, lengthen torso, and press through heels. Hold the plank for 3 to 5 breaths.
Lie on back, with a towel or blanket rolled or folded and placed horizontally under knees. Another towel or blanket should be placed under head. Close eyes, relax body. Stay in Savasana for 5 to 10 minutes.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2021 issue of Health Magazine. Click here to subscribe today!
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