10 Yoga Stretches for Stress Relief

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Seated and Standing Poses

Cross-Legged Lower Back Stretch

  • Sit a few inches from the wall with your legs crossed.
  • "Walk" your fingers up the wall, stretching from the lower back.
  • Broaden your shoulders by separating and lifting your shoulder blades. Keep your throat and neck soft. Don't tense your shoulders, just lift them.
  • When you think you have gone as high as you can, rest for a moment while your body adjusts to the pose, then walk your fingers a little higher.
  • Rest and repeat several times.
  • If this is too difficult, try the next pose.

Upward Arm Stretch

  • Sit in a chair facing the wall.
  • Place your hands as high on the wall as possible and "walk" your fingers higher up the wall, stretching from your lower back.
  • Broaden your shoulders by separating and lifting your shoudler blades. Keep your throat and neck soft. Don't tense your shoulders, just lift them.
  • Once you think your fingers are as high as they can be, rest for a moment in that position so your body can adjust, and then walk your fingers higher.
  • Rest and repeat several times.

Chair Lower Back Stretch

  • Sit in your chair and widen your legs so they are wider than hip distance apart.
  • From the hip crease, bend forward and allow your entire body to relax. Drop your head and completely relax your neck.
  • If you are not completely comfortable, try putting a rolled blanket or towel at the hip crease and lean over again.
  • Hold this pose as long as you like. With each exhalation, allow your body and mind to relax a little bit more. Sit up on an inhalation, pause for a few moments, and try again.

Right Angle Pose

  • Standing very close to the wall, place your hands on the wall at waist height, shoulder distance apart.
  • Walk back until your torso is perpendicular to the wall and your legs are directly under your hips.
  • Extend your arms by firmly pressing your hands into the wall, as though you want to topple it. Go ahead, try to push it over!
  • Extend your spine to its maximum length, and work on straightening your knees and elbows.
  • Hold for 30 to 45 seconds. To release the stretch, step toward the wall.

Downward Facing Dog

  • Place the back of a chair against the wall.
  • Kneel 2 to 2-1/2 feet in front of the chair seat, and place your hands on the edge.
  • Come up onto your toes, straighten your legs, lift your buttocks, and angle your torso downward.
  • Work on straightening your arms and legs, and lengthening your back as much as possible.
  • Think about moving the front of your thighs toward the back of your thighs. Having a friend pull the top of your thighs back can help you get the full benefit of this pose, by taking the weight off your arms.
  • Hold for 30 to 45 seconds.
  • If this is too easy, place your hands on some thick books or directly on the floor instead of on a chair.

Continued on page 3:  Lie Down and Relax

 

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