Stress, anxiety and restlessness have become common household experiences in today’s fast paced and stressful world. We all would have faced tensed situations like failing an examination; death of a family member, missing a deadline at work, failed relationships-there is never an end to the list. Such experiences often traumatise our brain and leave our minds restless. When such anxiety and fear disrupts our daily living, we need to work out solutions for them. Yoga can effectively come to your rescue if you are seeking for an answer to your restless woes. Along with breathing and meditation techniques, certain Yoga Asanas (postures) have been known for their relaxation effects as they ease a tensed body and mind. Here are 5 such Yoga Asanas:
1. Setubandhasana (Bridge Pose)
To start this Asana, lie down on your back on a mat. Bend your knees and keep your feet apart at the same distance as your hips, your knees and ankles should come in a straight line. Your arms should be by the side of your body (palms facing down). Take a deep breath in, and gently lift up your pelvis, and then the upper back up. Take weight on your shoulders, arms and feet and try to touch your chest to your chin. Hold yourself in this pose, and feel your breath coming in and going out easily. After a minute or too, release yourself and gently come down to the original position. This posture helps to reduce anxiety and nervousness.
2. Marjariasana (Cat Stretch)
The starting position for this Asana is on all fours i.e. like a horse. The knees are hip-width apart and hands are placed on the floor (palms down) just below the shoulders with elbows straight. Keep looking straight. Now, inhale and curve your back by pulling navel downwards and tail bone raised, look up. The buttocks should be tightened. Take deep long breaths staying in this cat pose. Now, with exhalation, do a reverse movement by pulling chin down towards the chest, and arching the back upwards. Buttocks should be relaxed. Hold this position for a few moments and then relax in the starting position. This can be repeated about 5 times. This pose is also helpful in relaxing a disturbed restless mind.
3. Hastapadasana (Standing Forward Bend)
Stand straight with feet together and arms by the side. Take a deep breath in and extend your arms overhead. Breathe out to bend forward and stretch your body to touch your feet. This pose should be maintained for about 20-30 seconds. Now push down further so that your head reaches between the legs. Keep breathing deeply. Now, gently come back to the standing pose and arms by the side again. This Asana works well to control stress related anxiety.
4. Adhomukha Shwanasana (Downward Facing Dog)
This posture replicates a dog bending forwards. Starting with an all fours position, like a horse, breathe out and lift your hips up, straightening the elbows and knees and pointing the toes straight. The arms should be shoulder width apart and feet hip-width apart. Look towards the navel. Hold this pose while taking long breaths. Now, come back to the starting position. This pose improves circulation to the brain and settles the mind.
5. Shavasana (Corpse Pose)
As the name suggests, this Asana is performed in a recumbent pose like that of a dead body. For best results, try doing this one towards the end of your session to allow deep healing to take place that relaxes the mind and body. Lie down on your back on a mat. Legs should be apart at a comfortable distance, all joints of the limb should be relaxed and toes pointing sideways. Arms should be kept by the side of the body, palms should be open and facing up. While lying down in this pose with eyes closed, bring awareness to each part of your body one by one starting from the toes and let it relax. Breathe in and out gently and feel the body and mind relaxing with each breath. You can get up slowly after about 10-20 minutes by turning to your side, come to sitting and open your eyes.
The awareness to be felt during performing each Asana is what makes Yoga unique. It calms the unsettled mind and helps in focussing our attention purely on the body moves and breathing. This helps in fighting away the restlessness which in turn can help you to relax. In fact, it is a fruitful practice to do Yoga Asanas and then move towards the quieter meditation that moves you to a world of tranquillity.