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February 15, 2018

Stress can be difficult, if not impossible, to avoid, and it can take a real toll on your health. Luckily, there are many steps you can take to reduce its effects. An amazing way to reduce stress is with yoga because it engages the mind and body to help you feel more balanced.  Here are the five best yoga exercises for reducing stress:


1.   Toe Squat –this is a relatively easy pose and a good place for beginners to start.  Simply kneel on the floor with your toes tucked under your feet, then lean back so that your rear end is balanced on your heels. You’ll should feel a stretch through your arches and in your toe joints.  Keep your spine as lengthened as possible and focus on your breathing. Hold the pose for one full minute. Release from the pose slowly, continuing to focus on your breath, and you should feel the tension begin to melt away.

2.  Child’s Pose –This can be a particularly comforting exercise. Start on your hands and knees, then sit back until your bottom is over your heels and your arms are reached out in front of you. Slowly bend forward until your forehead touches the floor. Your big toes should touch but your knees can either be together or set apart wider than your hips. You can either rest your arms back alongside your body with the palms up or, if it’s more comfortable, you can stack your hands and forearms in front of you and rest your head on them. Hold for at least 10 breaths, focusing solely on your breathing. To help with your stress relief, you can visualize a color flowing in and out with each breath.

3.  Thunderbolt –This pose is particularly useful for individuals whose stress tends to manifest in their digestive system. From a kneeling position, sit back on your heels.  Keep your spine as straight as possible and place your palms on your knees and relax your shoulders. Close your eyes take a long breath.  Inhale and exhale slowly and allow your mind and body to relax. Try to focus on your breath. Hold the position for at least 10 breaths. As you become more aware of your breathing you’ll be able to let go of built up stress.  This is a particularly good exercise to do just before bed as it can help you to get a more restful sleep.

4.  Reclined Bound Angle –This pose is designed to open your hips, thighs and groin – an area where many people tend to hold tension. Lie down on your back and put the soles of your feet together with your knees out to the side. You can hold your arms in any of several variations: either above your head, holding each elbow with the opposite hand; resting on the floor alongside your torso; or resting on your body, one hand on the heart and the other on the belly. Maintain the pose for as long as you feel comfortable and come out of it slowly when you’re ready.

5.  Corpse Pose – This should be the final pose of your practice as it provides a gentle means of releasing tension. Start on your back with knees hugged to your chest, then close your eyes and slowly release your legs and open your arms one at a time. To start, lie here for three minutes, then roll to the right side of your body and press yourself up into a comfy seated position. Sit up tall, take a deep breath in through your nose and out through your mouth and then open your eyes. This should release the last of your tension and bring your yoga workout to a peaceful conclusion.

Author Bio: Jennifer O'Neal is a health and fitness writer, and a lifelong cyclist who enjoys the thrill of an outdoor ride as much as one on her indoor cycling bike.