3 ways you can use yoga to reduce stress in your life

Feeling stressed out? Try these 3 simple yoga poses to bring some zen to your life!

Stress has, sadly, become part of daily life. Pressure from work, family, relationships, health, finances - it all contributes! Stress itself is unavoidable, however learning how to deal with it effectively will make all the difference to your health and wellbeing. 

During prolonged periods of stress (‘fight or flight’), you may fall into adrenal fatigue. When you’re in ‘fight or flight’ your body releases hormones cortisol and adrenaline, this can happen when you’re running late, worried about that big meeting or working on a tight deadline.

Your adrenal glands, located just above each of your kidneys, play a crucial role in many bodily functions, including balancing hormones.

It’s important to keep your stress levels under control so that not only are you keeping your hormones happy, but you don’t turn into the incredible hulk at the mention of the office being out of coffee!

A simple and effective way to replenish your tired adrenal glands is to do some restorative yoga poses. Unlike it’s sweaty older vinyasa sister, restorative yoga allows you to slow down, connect to and lengthen your breath whilst giving your body a chance to enter into ‘rest and digest’ mode.

The next time you feel your stress levels rising try these simple poses to bring you back to a calm, less stressed state where you’re able to make decisions with a clear head and all potential hulk moments are avoided. 

Try these three yoga poses to help reduce stress: 

Before you begin:

Set up a quiet, warm space for your practice where you won’t be disturbed.  This can be at your house, or in the meeting room. Play some relaxing music and put your phone away! Relax into these poses for 3-10 minutes each. Breathe slowly throughout and lengthen your exhale. You’re here to relax so if you’re not comfortable try using a pillow or a blanket to make the pose feel better, remember to listen to your body and come out of the pose when you need. 

Balasana (Child’s Pose)

Balasana helps you to feel calm, grounded and connected. It also provides a gentle opening of the hips, depending on which variation you take.

Start by kneeling on your mat with the tops of your feet to the ground and big toes touching. Bring your knees out to the width of the mat and then sit back onto your heels. Slowly bring your torso towards the mat and rest your forehead onto the mat or a bolster. You can also choose to do this pose with your knees together and your arms resting down beside your body for less of a hip opening option. Stay here for 3-10 minutes breathing deeply.

Supta Baddha Konasana (Reclining Cobbler’s Pose)

This pose is perfect for connecting in with your breath, a practice that helps to support the rest and digest response in your body.

To begin, sit upright with the soles of your feet together and knees apart. Once you are comfortable start to recline back, first onto your elbows and then lowering all the way down so that your spine is lying straight on the floor. You can choose to place your hands by your side, palms facing up; or place one hand on your heart and the other on your stomach and breath deeply here for a few minutes. Stay here for 3-10 minutes breathing deeply, lengthening your exhales and breathing away any tension.

Viparita Karani (Legs Up The Wall Pose)

Not only does this pose slow your heart rate, reduce the nerve input into your adrenal glands, relax your blood vessels and slow your brain waves, it’s also commonly referred to as the ‘foundation of youth pose’ and said to keep you looking younger for longer. It’s basically the superfood of yoga poses.

Lay with your legs up the wall and your back resting on the ground, keep your buttox as close to the wall as possible. Once you are comfortable become aware of your breath and relax, noticing the subtle sensation of the shift in blood flow.

Savasana (corpse pose) 

Ah savasana, everyone’s favourite yoga pose! Whilst it may seem like you are just laying there, there’s actually a lot of goodness happening in your body. By focusing on long, deep exhalations you will be slowing your heart rate and bring an overwhelming sense of calm to the body. This pose allows your to absorb the benefits of your practice and experience a deep sense of rest.

Lay down on your back and bring your legs out slightly wider than your hips. Allow your feet to relax out to the side. Place your arms beside your hips in a comfortable, but wider-than-normal, distance from your body with the palms facing up. Close your eyes, relax your face, your tongue, allow your eyes to roll back into your head and begin to breath deeply, focusing on long exhales. Stay here for at least 10 minutes. If you experience lower back pain place a blanket or pillow under your knees to relieve tension on the sacrum.

Restorative yoga is a very powerful tool for combating stress. Give this sequence a go at least once a week and take note of the difference it makes! We'd love to know how you go in the comments below, perhaps you have some yoga favourites that really work for you that we haven't listed above?

Emma Maidment is a Communications and Marketing Consultant, Yoga Teacher and Writer. She works exclusively in the health and wellness space with heart-centered entrepreneurs and businesses helping them to share their message with the world.

Emma is passionate, authentic and knowledgeable. Her approach is holistic with interwoven yogic philosophy and practices.

She writes regularly on health and wellbeing for Body and Soul and runs a number of wellbeing events, including Mindful Marketing Workshops.

Her background is in Communications and PR and she brings this extensive knowledge and experience along with her passion for wellness and holistic, mindful living to her work. Find out more about Emma at emmamaidment.com or follow her adventures on instagram @emmamaidment_.