Find Zen: The 5 Best Yoga Poses For Stress Relief

A beautiful woman sitting on a yoga mat.

You wake up feeling anxious and overwhelmed. Your mind races with thoughts of deadlines, responsibilities, and to-do lists. Stress has become part of your daily routine, but it doesn’t have to be this way. 

Take a deep breath and find your center with these 5 best yoga poses for stress relief. Learn how these poses can help calm your mind and relax your body when you need it most. 

By focusing on your breath and being present during each pose, you’ll find a sense of peace and contentment. Don’t let stress control you – take control of your stress.

The Rising Epidemic of Stress and Its Effects

Chronic stress is becoming increasingly common in today’s fast-paced world. According to recent surveys, 40% of Canadians report higher stress levels in 2023 compared to 2022. It can harm physical and mental health, causing anxiety, depression, digestive issues, and a weaker immune system.

Impact on Physical Health

When a person experiences stress, their body enters a “fight or flight” response, which leads to the release of stress hormones that can temporarily increase heart rate and blood pressure.However, frequent activation of this response can lead to cardiovascular problems and high blood pressure in the long run.

Stress also impacts your gut health by slowing digestion and altering the gut microbiome. This can manifest as digestive issues like irritable bowel syndrome or acid reflux. Furthermore, high cortisol levels suppress your immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses.

Impact on Mental Well-Being

Chronic stress is a major contributor to mental health disorders. It impairs your ability to regulate emotions and cope with challenges in a healthy way. Prolonged exposure to stress hormones can alter brain structure and chemistry, potentially leading to anxiety, depression, insomnia, and memory problems.

Stress also makes it hard to keep healthy relationships since it reduces emotional awareness and empathy. Over time, unmanaged stress can significantly reduce your overall well-being and quality of life.

The good news is there are many effective strategies for controlling the effects of chronic stress. Engaging in regular exercise, practicing mindfulness techniques like yoga, limiting unhealthy habits, and maintaining a balanced routine can help lower stress levels and promote health and happiness. While life’s demands won’t disappear, you have the power to establish control over your stress and improve your resilience. 

The 5 Best Yoga Poses For Stress Relief

We spoke with Crystal Fenton, a certified E-RYT®200 YACEP® Yoga Instructor, experienced beauty editor and author of “The Healing Power of the Pineal Gland,” an extensive book on healing published by Simon & Schuster. 

She provided her 5 best yoga poses for stress relief and insights on how these can help with stress relief:

Sasangasana Or Rabbit Pose

Young woman in sasangasana or rabbit pose.

Instructions:

  1. Start by kneeling, leaning forward so that your hips shift back from your heels.
  2. Position your forearms on the floor ahead of your shoulders, interlocking your hands.
  3. Gently roll forward until the top (crown) of your head presses into the mat.
  4. Send your pelvis and butt upward, slightly arching your spine.

Benefits:

  1. Stimulates the pituitary gland, promoting a sense of calm and relaxation.
  2. The gentle inversion can help release tension in the neck and shoulders.

Vajrasana Or Thunderbolt Pose & Kapalbhati Pranayama

Long-haired young woman in Vajrasana or thunderbolt pose.

Instructions (Vajrasana):

  1. Position yourself on the floor with your knees bent, placing a folded blanket beneath them for cushioning if necessary.
  2. Keep knees together, toes untucked, press tops of feet into the mat.
  3. Sit back on your heels while maintaining a straight spine.

Instructions (Kapalbhati Pranayama):

  1. In Vajrasana, inhale deeply, placing hands over the belly and exhale completely.
  2. Take another deep breath halfway, then pump out short, sharp exhales as long as comfortable.
  3. Complete as many cycles as desired.

Benefits:

  1. Vajrasana aids digestion, which can be disrupted by stress.
  2. Kapalbhati breathing energizes the body and mind, releasing stagnant energy and promoting mental clarity.

Uttanasana Standing Forward Fold & Rag Doll Variations

Instructions Uttanasana (Standing Forward Fold):

A young woman demonstrating Uttanasana pose.
  1. Begin standing with feet parallel and legs close together.
  2. Hinge from the hips, folding forward as if to touch your forehead to your shins.
  3. Maintain a slight bend in knees if needed, but press heels down.
  4. Aim to touch your forehead to your shins for a deeper stretch.

Instructions Uttanasana  (Rag Doll):

Woman In Rag Doll Variation
  1. From Uttanasana, grab opposite elbows with your hands.
  2. Allow the torso to gently sway from side to side, releasing tension throughout the body.

Benefits:

  1. Calms the mind and helps alleviate symptoms of stress and anxiety.
  2. Releases tension in the spine, shoulders, and hamstrings, which can tighten due to stress.

Adho Mukha Savasana/Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Dog Pose)

A young woman showing downward dog pose.

Instructions:

  1. Begin on hands and knees in a tabletop position.
  2. Then spread your fingers and press your palms down. Finally, lift your hips to form an inverted V shape.
  3. Press heels toward the mat, send pelvis upward, and allow head and neck to relax.
  4. Move the crown of the head down toward the mat (or use a block for support).

Benefits:

  1. Reduces stress and fatigue while building strength.
  2. Stretches and strengthens the entire body, improving overall well-being.

Salamba Sirsasana (Headstand)

A young woman in headstand pose.

Instructions:

  1. Begin in a downward dog pose and lower yourself onto your knees.
  2. Place your forearms on the ground and interlock your fingers with your elbows shoulder-width apart.
  3. Place the top of the head (crown) down on the mat between your arms.
  4. Tuck toes, straighten your legs, and lift your pelvis up, keeping shoulders and upper arms engaged.
  5. Press your forearms down as you walk your feet closer to your elbows (avoid leaning your shoulders forward).
  6. Engage core muscles and bring one knee at a time towards your chest.
  7. Hold or slowly lift and straighten both legs toward the ceiling.

Benefits:

  1. The inversion can help calm the mind and increase focus.
  2. Helps to relieve stress and boost energy levels.
  3. Strengthens core and shoulder muscles.

Life can be overwhelming, and stress a constant companion. But by incorporating these 5 best yoga poses for stress relief into your routine, you build a powerful toolbox for managing stress and promoting long-term well-being.  Each time you step onto your mat, you create space for your body to release tension, your mind to find clarity, and your spirit to find peace.

Find Your Inner Peace

A happy woman carrying yoga mat in gym.

You now have the tools to find your zen—even on the craziest days. With a yoga mat, an open mind, and a few minutes to breathe, these yoga poses can help relieve stress and restore balance. Listen to your body, move slowly, and don’t forget to exhale. A calmer, more centered you awaits. Namaste.


Have you found a favorite stress-relieving yoga pose? Share your go-to move and how it helps you find your zen!