Breathe Easy: Simple Yoga Poses to Help Reduce Anxiety

Breathe Easy: Simple Yoga Poses to Help Reduce Anxiety

Life can be stressful, and it can be hard to keep up and even harder to take time to slow down and get centered. Luckily, there are some simple yoga poses you can do anytime, anywhere – no need to trek over to the studio for an hour-long Vinyasa class. You can rediscover your inner peace in just a few short minutes so you can feel refreshed and ready to take on your to-do list.

Below is a list of some simple yoga poses that anyone can do, no matter your skill level or experience with yoga. Each pose not only has the emotional benefits of anxiety reduction, but also targets different parts of your body for physical benefits, too.

 

Child’s Pose

Child’s pose is a classic resting pose. If you’ve ever taken a class in a yoga studio before, you’ll recognize it! If you’re newer to yoga, here are a few simple steps to get into a comfortable child’s pose. 

First, start by kneeling or on hands and knees. Then, shift your hips back toward your heels. Your knees can be spread apart or together, whichever feels best for your body. You can extend your arms long out in front of you or bring them alongside your body with palms facing up. Hold for 5-10 breaths and slowly transition out.

 

Standing Forward Fold

Even if you’re a yoga novice, this pose is accessible to most! Like child’s pose, a standing forward fold soothes your nervous system and creates space in your spine, which helps with circulation. It also helps to relieve low back pain and helps gently stretch the backs of your legs.

From a standing pose, place your feet about hip-width distance apart and place your hands on your hips. Hinge forward at your hips with a long spine. Bend your knees as much as you need to and gently guide your chest toward your knees. Contrary to popular belief, you don’t have to touch your toes to feel the benefits of this pose! You can bring your hands to your shins or grab opposite elbows, if needed. Hold for 3-5 breaths and slowly roll up to standing. 

 

Triangle Pose

Triangle pose is a great way to not only lower stress levels, it’s also an effective full body stretch that engages and strengthens your core and leg muscles.

Begin by standing at the top of your mat, then step your feet out about 4-5 feet apart. Turn your right foot 90 degrees and point it toward the top of your mat. Extend your arms in a t-shape at shoulder height and begin to reach forward with your right hand, while drawing your hips back. Follow a straight line with your right hand, leading it down to rest on your shin, and lift your left arm toward the sky. Find 3-5 deep breaths before switching sides.

 

Bridge Pose

This pose is extremely versatile and can be energizing or restorative, depending upon which variation you choose. Bridge pose helps to stretch the spine and open the chest and neck. Added benefits include relief from menstrual cramps, menopause, headaches, and fatigue. For anxiety reduction, we’ll go with a more calming alternative of bridge pose, which will require you to have a yoga block or bolster to place under your sacrum.

Start lying down with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor, hips-width distance apart. Slide the bolster or block under your sacrum to lift your hips. Place your arms alongside your body with your palms facing down. Breathe deeply for 5-10 breaths before sliding the block or bolster out from under your hips and lowering your spine gently down to the ground.

 

Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose

Legs-Up-the-Wall pose is a great inversion that gives you all the benefits of other, more complex poses, like headstand and handstand, without the fear of falling over! It can help with anything from depression and digestion to insomnia and headaches.

To get into this pose, first sit with your left side hugging against the wall. Slide your torso down onto the floor and gently glide your legs onto the wall. Scoot your bum as close to the wall as you would like, and you can adjust the distance between your legs depending upon how your body feels. You can hold this pose for as long or as short as you’d like, but the longer you hold it, the more benefits you’ll feel.  

If none of these poses feels right in your body, there’s always another option: coming back to your breath. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, closing your eyes and taking three deep, cleansing inhales and exhales can help quickly reduce anxiety and help you take on whatever life throws at you!

 

Lexi Gibson Vegetable and Butcher

Lexi Gibson is a yoga teacher and communications strategist with a passion for all things wellness. She started her yoga journey in 2009 and completed her 200-hour yoga teacher certification in 2019. She now teaches yoga, meditation, and breathwork to adults and children of all ages and skill levels. When she's not on the mat, you can find her writing, reading, traveling, or singing to her two adorable cats.