By Tori Taylor, April 24 2019 —
Now that exam season is done, you might find yourself in need of some stress relief — try yoga. It does wonders for all areas of the body. There are five easy asanas (poses) that relieve stress and tension in the upper shoulders, neck and head. Here’s the morning and evening yoga routine that keeps me mobile and motivated to take on stress.
This is dead man’s pose. The name says it all. Lay with your back on the floor. Place your hands, palms up, by your sides. Tuck your chin in to your chest to lengthen your spine. There should be a bit of compression in the front of your neck. Breathe deeply, slowly and deliberately. Close your eyes. Think of laying each vertebra flat on the floor beneath you. This visualization will help you begin to create space in your spine and release stress stored there. Take a minimum of five deep breaths. If you have the time, spend five full minutes in this pose.
From savasana, move to your knees. This asana is a little more intense. Hang out in camel pose for at least five breaths. Rise up so that you’re kneeling and stack your hips above your knees. Bring both hands to your heart and press your palms together. Begin to engage your core and obliques to safely protect your lower back as you move into a backbend. Tuck your tailbone and push your hips forward. Start to look up and as your head falls, trace your eyes along the ceiling in a straight line behind you. This is a chest opener. It may create a feeling of nausea. Continue to breathe through this uncomfortable feeling and the benefits will be well worth the experience. You can use your hands to brace your lower back. With deep inhales, open your chest and shoulders. With long exhales, push your hips forward and continue to tuck your tailbone under.
Now, for a much simpler pose. Rise to standing. Step your feet out wider than your hips. With a straight spine, bend in to your knees and fold forward. It is important to keep a straight and strong back, with the core engaged, so that you don’t hurt yourself. Bend the knees as much as you need to. Grab opposite elbows and hang. Let your torso be heavy and gravity do its job. Stay relaxed in your knees. Keep your breathing steady and melt the muscles in your face. Don’t clench your jaw. Stay here for as long as you’d like.
This is one of my favorite asanas as it works miracles for migraines and neck tension. Lay down on your back and lift your legs to 90 degrees. Place your hands down by your sides, palms resting on the ground. Take your feet behind your head. You should feel like you’re folding in half at the hips with your legs straight over top of you and your toes resting somewhere behind your head. Keep your chin tucked and do not move your head side to side. You may use your hands to support your lower back by bending your elbows and placing your palms on either side of your back. Continue to use your arms to balance you. The compression in the thyroid and neck should feel slightly uncomfortable but not painful. As you slowly release yourself from this pose, the flow of fresh blood to your head, neck and shoulders will feel amazing.
This is a great way to end your relaxing flow. With your knees tucked underneath your body and your chest flat on the ground in front of you, place your forehead onto your mat and roll your temples from side to side. Stay here until you feel ready to get up.
If you enjoyed this tiny movement meditation, I highly recommend trying out a Yin Flow class at any local yoga studio. It will change your life. Namaste!