How to Relax Your Mind and Body with Yoga

The word “yoga” means to yoke or unite. It is the fusion of the mind, body, and soul through various techniques and poses.

Yoga originated over 5,000 years ago in India. It aims to radiate peace and tranquility throughout the mind, body, and soul.

This unique combination of breath control, simple meditation, and the adoption of specific body poses can be great for your overall health. It can help you stay in shape, fight obesity, reduce stress, and calm the mind, among other things.

Eight Limbs of Yoga

Although we generally focus on the body postures known as asana, yoga is so much more.

The eight different limbs of yoga are:

  • Yamas (universal morals)
  • Niyamas (personal morals)
  • Asana (physical postures)
  • Pranayama (breath-work)
  • Pratyahara (sense withdraw)
  • Dharana (concentration)
  • Dhyani (meditation)
  • Samadhi (liberation).

When a person begins practicing yoga, he or she starts on a journey of deep spiritual insights over these eight limbs.

Yoga to Help You Relax and De-stress

Some yoga poses are particularly effective in promoting relaxation (of the body as well the mind) and encouraging restfulness.

These poses help stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. It is the part of the nervous system that allows the body to rest and digest.

Activating the parasympathetic nervous system is very important for the body to be able to relax completely and begin to heal itself.

Relax Your Body with These Yoga Poses

Here are a few yoga poses that can help to relax your mind and body.

1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Child’s Pose is a popular yoga posture that can help calm the mind, relax the body, ease stress, and release tension. It is also good for the nervous and lymphatic systems.

This pose is highly recommended to those who are suffering from stress, anxiety, neck pain, back pain, and high blood pressure.

  1. Kneel on the floor.
  2. Keep your knees apart and make sure your big toes touch.
  3. Rest your forehead on the floor, resting your upper body on your thighs.
  4. Stretch your hands out in front with palms facing the floor.
  5. While in this position, take deep breaths to calm the body.
  6. Stay in this pose for 1 to 5 minutes.

2. Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)

The Standing Forward Bend is another popular yoga pose that can help you relax. It also aids in relieving stress, headaches, anxiety, fatigue, mild depression, and insomnia.

In fact, this pose is an essential element of the Sun Salutation Pose, which helps to stretch and re-energize the whole body. Practicing this pose improves the functioning of your liver and kidneys. It also helps in digestion, asthma, sinusitis, high blood pressure, osteoporosis, and infertility.

  1. Stand on your yoga mat with your feet together or slightly apart with your toes facing forward.
  2. Inhale and bring your hands on your hips
  3. Exhale and bend forward from the hips, relax your shoulders, and extend the crown of your head towards the floor.
  4. Place your hands on the ground or on a yoga block.
  5. Shift your weight forward towards your toes, keeping the legs as straight as possible.
  6. Take deep breaths and feel the back body expand.
  7. Remain in this position for up to 1 minute.
  8. Go, place your hands on your hips, inhale, and slowly return to a standing position.

Note: This yoga pose may not be suitable for those with lower-back problems. If you do have lower-back issues, you may perform this yoga position with a slight bend in the knees to protect your lower back. People with high blood pressure should also avoid practicing this pose.

3. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)

This is a restorative yoga pose that helps calm your mind and body and reduce stress. In addition, it improves blood circulation, relieves swollen and tired feet, improves digestion, heals backaches, and eases symptoms of mild depression, anxiety, and insomnia. It also helps slow down the aging process.

  1. Practice this pose on the floor next to a sturdy wall or door.
  2. Lie down and take deep breaths
  3. Now breathe out, bend your knees, and move your legs up against the wall slowly. Keep your spine in a neutral position.
  4. Place your arms by your sides. Your palms should be facing up. You may even keep your hands on your belly if you find it more comfortable. Stretch your legs upward.
  5. Take deep breaths for about 3–5 minutes
  6. To release this position, bend your knees and roll onto one side.

Note: Do not practice this yoga pose during menstruation. Also, it may not be suitable for people suffering from glaucoma and high blood pressure.

4. Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

The Reclining Bound Angle Pose is a very relaxing yoga posture for both beginners and experts. This pose relaxes the body, mind, and spirit as well as relieves symptoms of stress, mild depression, and anxiety. It also stretches the groin and inner thigh muscles and helps lower blood pressure.

  1. Lay on your back.
  2. Bring the soles of your feet together with knees opening out to the sides.
  3. Place your arms comfortably by your sides with palms facing up or hands on the belly.
  4. Allow your body to relax, taking deep breaths for up to 5 minutes.
  5. To get out of the pose, start by drawing your knees back together and slowly rolling to your side. Now, with the support of your hands, raise yourself up into a seated position.
Note: Avoid practicing this yoga pose if you have a knee, lower-back, groin, shoulder, or hip injury. If there is discomfort in the knees you can place a yoga block under each knee for additional support.

5. Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Ardho Mukha Svanasana)

This pose is a part of the traditional Sun Salutation sequence but is also very beneficial when performed individually. It stretches the whole body, especially your shoulders, legs, and spine. It rejuvenates the body, calms the mind, fights fatigue, and relieves depression.

It can also improve the immune system, digestion, and blood flow to the sinuses. The Downward-Facing Dog Pose is also effective in relieving back pain, headaches, and insomnia. This pose is particularly helpful for those who have a tendency to crouch their shoulders when stressed.

  1. Position yourself on the floor on your hands and knees. Your palms should be flat on the floor with the fingers spread upfront.
  2. Keep your feet in line with your hands and stretch your arms forward, keeping your elbows straight.
  3. Exhale and lift your knees away from the floor, lift your hips, and push yourself back to create an upside-down V pose.
  4. Take deep breaths and relax your head and back of the neck.
  5. Stay in this pose for 1 to 3 minutes.
  6. Bend your knees and bring them to the floor as you exhale. Rest in Child’s Pose before standing up slowly.
Note: Avoid practicing this yoga pose if you have severe carpal tunnel syndrome or high blood pressure. Also, it may not be suitable for people with back, arm, or shoulder injury.

6. Corpse Pose (Savasana)

This particular yoga pose helps reduce stress in all the muscles in the body. It can help you relax after a workout session or after performing other asanas.

It relaxes the entire body, calms the mind, reduces anxiety, alleviates mild depression, and improves sleep. It also helps lower blood pressure, reduces headaches, and fights fatigue.

  1. Lie down on the floor on your back.
  2. Place your hands next to your sides, slightly spread out, with palms facing upwards.
  3. Keep your legs slightly apart and breathe slowly and deeply from your abdominal area.
  4. Close your eyes and concentrate on relaxing the muscles of your body as much as possible.
  5. You may maintain this position for 5 to 15 minutes.
  6. To release this position, take a few deep breaths and slowly roll over to one side. Now, with the help of your arms, raise yourself to a seating position.

Caution: Before practicing any of these poses on your own, it is recommended that you attend a yoga class to learn the correct way to practice yoga. Yoga poses will only benefit your body and mind when performed correctly.

Resources:

  1. Woodyard C. Exploring the therapeutic effects of yoga and its ability … International Journal of Yoga. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3193654/. Published 2011.
  2. Taneja DK. Yoga and Health. Indian Journal of Community Medicine : Official Publication of Indian Association of Backentive & Social Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4067931/. Published 2014.
  3. Sengupta P. Health Impacts of Yoga and Pranayama: A State-of-the-Art … International Journal of preventive Medicine. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3415184/. Published July 2012.

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Published by
Annette Szproch (Certified Yoga Instructor, Licensed Massage Therapist)

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