Stress Relief with Basic Yoga Poses

Can basic yoga poses relieve stress? Yogis think so. Through a series of yoga poses, known as asanas in Sanskrit, yoga reduces stress, brings deep relaxation, increases flexibility, improves posture and concentration, and promotes a sense of well-being and balance.

Yogis believe that through the practice of basic yoga poses, you will become aware of the stress in your body and you will be able to release it. Yoga poses will show you the effects that stress has imprinted into your body - the tight neck and back, the achy shoulders or inflexible hamstrings. The same poses will also give you an opportunity to work out the tension out of these tense and sore muscles.

Basic Yoga Poses

The Corpse pose - Shavasana - is the most basic of all yoga poses. The corpse pose is the position of lying on the back at full length like a corpse.

Benefits: This is a resting pose and as such it is said to eliminate fatigue and induce calmness of mind.

The Tree pose - Vrksasana - a steady rooted stance is created by bringing one foot against the inner thigh of the standing leg. The raised leg is out to the side and the pelvis is opened. Both hips are squared toward the front. The arms are in a namaste position in the center of the chest.

Benefits: The position improves balance and strengthens thighs, calves, and ankles. Improves posture by strengthening the spine.

The Warrior pose - Virabhadrasana - from a standing position, feet are jumped apart approximately 4 feet. Arms are raised parallel to the floor, gaze is forward. Left foot is turned 90 degrees to the left and the knee is bend (keeping the knee above the ankle).

Benefits: Strengthens abdominal muscles, arms, and legs. Opens the chest and the groin area. Increases stamina.

The Lotus pose - Padmasana - in this pose the legs are crossed, feet resting on the thighs with soles facing up. The spine is erect, the hands either placed on the knees, palms up, or resting in the lap.

Benefits: Improves posture, increases awareness, and generally has a calming and relaxing effect.

The Triangle pose - Trikonasana - the legs are spread apart and the body stretches to the left, moving from the pelvis and extending over the left leg. Both arms are perpendicular to the floor, the left hand on the floor, or resting on the calf or the outer ankle of the left foot, and the right hand reaching up straight. The spine is straight, chest open, the body facing to the front.

Benefits: Improves coordination and balance. Stretches lower and upper back, hamstrings and hips. Strengthens arms and opens chest. The triangle pose gives a complete stretch through the whole body.

The Plough pose - Halasana - from a relaxed position lying down with the arms at the sides, the feet are brought over the head toward the ground. The arms and feet remain relaxed.

Benefits: Stretches back and neck. Good for abdominal organs, for digestion, strengthens kidneys, liver, and the gallbladder.

The Bow pose - Dhanurasana - the pose starts with lying down with face on the floor. The hands are brought back to grasp the ankles. Feet are pulled up, back is arched, the chest and head lift up.

Benefits: Helps to release tension in the spine and solar plexus. Improves the functioning of kidneys, liver, and small intestines.

The Cobra pose - Bhujangasana - the pose starts from a downward facing position with hands flat on the floor below the shoulders. The spine is lengthened and the buttocks firmed as the head and chest are slowly lifted. The elbows stay close to the body and the eyes look up. The neck is kept neutral.

Benefits: The cobra pose increases flexibility of the spine, stretches abdominal muscles, and can help prevent back pain. The pose puts gentle pressure on the abdomen and massages internal organs.

The Cow-Cat pose - Marjarasana - two poses one flowing into another - great basic yoga poses for beginners. The pose begins on all fours with wrists underneath the shoulders and knees underneath the hips. In the neutral position, the back is straight. Starting from the tailbone, the belly is dropped down and head is tilted upwards, eyes look up, as in the picture on the right.

The cow pose then transforms into the cat pose by rounding the back and dropping the head. Eyes look down towards the navel.

Benefits: The sequence of cow-cat pose is said to increase flexibility of the spine, improve abdominal muscle tone and strength and possibly help prevent back pain.

The Boat pose - Navasana - the pose begins in a seated position. Legs are brought up to a 45 degree angle. The arms are extended forward in line with shoulders. The torso naturally leans back. The goal is to make a V shape with the body.

Benefits: This pose is all about creating core strength - that is strengthening of the abdominal muscles. Strong abdominal muscles keep your body stable and help prevent back pain. This pose benefits kidneys, intestines, and thyroid gland. The pose also improves digestion.

The Camel pose - Ustrasana - also known as back bending pose - from a kneeling position hands are drawn alongside the body as the chest is beginning to open. Hands reach out to grasp the heels.

Benefits: Stretches the front of the body, opens up chest, throat, and solar plexus. Strengthens back muscles and improves posture. Stimulates organs in the abdominal area.

Types of Yoga

Glossary of Yogic Terms


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