7 De-Stressing Yoga Moves So You Can Chill
Unwinding with Y7’s most powerful stress-relieving yoga poses.
Real talk: Life can be stressful.
Take, for example, that looming deadline we so often talk about (because the struggle is real), or that mailbox that fills faster than you can read “Hi, ______.” Or that uncomfortable friend situation you’re not quite sure how to handle. Mostly, we’ll admit, it’s just a product of our slightly obsessive overthinking (but that’s normal, right?). The truth is, stress, in all its varying degrees, can be daily.
And up till now, bubble baths, House of Cards (we’ll admit this may not be the best option for “decompressing”), and the occasional night run are our versions of therapy. But in an attempt to be more mindful, take a moment and actually breathe, and simultaneously get in a good workout (we just can’t drop the multitasking, OK?), we opened up our heart chakras with Y7 Yoga Studio’s co-founder Sarah Levey. Here, Levey shows us seven yoga movements to relieve stress. So next time you’ve had a particularly long day at work, forgo the glass of wine and do these.
“The Heart Chakra is our fourth chakra, located in the center of our bodies, aptly named for its location in the same region as our physical heart and represents the center of your spirit, as well as the other chakras. When open, it creates a vital energy space for our mental and physical well-being. It allows you to feel love, respect, and compassion to yourself and others. The following poses are centered on deepening the breath and opening the ever-so-important heart chakra.”
Cat-Crow opens the chest, encouraging the breath to become slow and deep. Start on your hands and knees, wrists directly under your shoulders and knees directly below your hips. As you inhale into Cow, drop your belly towards the floor as you lift your chin and chest, keeping your gaze up, drawing your shoulders away from your ears. Your exhale will draw your belly button to your spine, rounding your back as you release the crown of the head toward the floor.
Begin in a plank pose, pulling your belly in and gaze forward. On your exhale, slowly lower down into Chaturanga. From Chaturanga, inhale to pull your body forward by pressing through the palms and rolling over the tops of your toes. Your chest should be drawing forward, shoulders down and back while keeping your thighs and heart lifted.
Begin in Warrior Two with your front leg bent at a 90-degree angle, toes directly over your knee. Your back foot should be firmly rooted into the ground, toes pointing slightly forward and arms stretched out long, parallel to the floor. On an exhale, straighten your front leg, shift your hip back, reach your front arm long and towards the ground, and tilt your gaze up to the sky. Make sure that your front arm, ear, and torso are all in one line, really opening the chest.
High Lunge Variation
Start in high lunge, all ten toes facing forward with your front knee bent at a 90-degree angle and arms reaching up by your ears. Make sure your ankle is beneath your knee. Making sure to keep your shoulders relaxed, draw your hands behind your back and interlace your fingers. On an inhale, extend your arms back, lifting your chest and gaze toward the ceiling.
Chair Pose into Warrior Three
Keeping your feet together, shift your weight into your heels, drop your tailbone down, and knit your ribs together, creating a slight back bend. Lift your arms above your head, keeping your heart open. Slowly begin to put your weight onto one foot; lift the other leg as you lower your torso parallel to the ground, keeping that slight back bend and open chest.
Start by sitting upright on your knees hip-width distance apart. Rest both hands on your low back with your fingers pointing down toward the floor. Slowly begin to lean back, leading with the crown of your head. You can stay here or take the full variation by continuing to lift the pelvis up and reaching back until your hands find your heels.
Bridge to Full Wheel
Lying on your back, bring your knees to face the ceiling, keeping your feet hip-width distance apart and arms out long. (A good gauge of distance is to make sure that the tips of your fingers are grazing your heels.) Begin to lift your pelvis, rolling your shoulders back and underneath your body. Again, there is an option to stay here in Bridge Pose or take your practice one step further by coming into Full Wheel. To get into this pose, bend your elbows and place your palms on the floor beside your head, fingers pointing forward. Pressing your feet and hands firmly into the ground, use this firmness to lift your pelvis off the ground and straighten your arms. Spread the shoulder blades, and let the head hang.