Our bodies are a sign of our mental well-being and once in a while, we need to do a body scan to check-in. Right now, as college students lacking long breaks from classes and entirely absorbed in the world pandemic, it is so important to check in and alleviate stress.
Yoga is a simple way we can take care of our bodies and our mental health. As a certified yoga sculpt instructor, I turn to relaxing, zen yoga to release almost every day. Here are the poses I obsess over.
1. Child's Pose
One of the most simple and beneficial poses is a child's pose. It helps relieve one's lower back and shoulders, and it also stretches your glutes out. Sink your hips into your heels, stretch out your arms and fingertips, and allow yourself to relax your forehead on your mat. Melt into your mat and release any tension in your neck. This should be a rather easy, restorative pose on one's body.
2. Puppy Pose
In a way, the puppy pose is just another, deeper version of a child's pose. It stretches out one's abdomen, shoulders, and arms. Stick your hips up, stretch your arms forward, and elongate your spine. Relax your forehead on your mat and take some deep breaths.
3. Supta Baddha Konasana
I love this pose for releasing hip tightness and opening up the chest. Lay on your back. Relax your arms wherever they feel comfortable. Place the insides of your feet together and relax your knees out to each side, releasing all muscle engagement.
4. Fish Pose
Fish pose is a more restorative pose, very similar to supta baddha konasana. However, this pose focuses more on the chest and abdomen than the hips, while still adding the hip release one needs. If you have two blocks, grab them! Place one block under your back and one supporting your head. Fall into a similar, open-hipped pose allowing your knees to fall to your sides and open your arms.
5. Cat Cow
A cat and cow mini-flow is a very simple way to open up one's chest and back, allowing for more air-flow and very relaxing effects. Find an easy tabletop pose, stacking your joints. Inhale, drop your belly, lift your gaze. Exhale, arch your spine, elongate your neck and tuck your chin. Breathe here, flowing through a few rounds for ultimate release.
Ragdoll focuses on the legs, releasing the hamstrings and relaxing the glutes. This also releases neck tension, which we all have a lot of from staring at Zoom all day. Place your feet hip-width distance, fold forward, bend your knees slightly, and grab your elbows. Completely relax your neck down and sway side to side.
7. Downward Facing Dog
Downward facing dog is also a very easy pose to achieve and releases a lot of muscle groups throughout the arms, torso, and legs. Bring your hips up and back, bend your elbows and knees slightly and relax your neck.
8. Shoulder stand
Inversions are super beneficial for anxiety, digestion, and even one's circulatory system. The shoulder stand is a rather supported pose that can be done easily with or without a wall. Grab slightly above your hip line. Push your torso and hips up, supporting yourself with your elbows. Hold and breathe.
No matter where one lives or who they are, these poses are very good modes of releasing tension or tightness. Pairing these poses with breathing slows down the heart rate to a more normalized level.
During this difficult time, I urge you to take five minutes to go through a couple of these poses — you'll definitely feel the results!