Tax Day Stress? Try these 5 Tips from the Yoga Playbook

Filing your annual tax return can fray the nerves of even the calmest yogi. Here, five tips straight from the yoga playbook to breeze through April 15 with grace.
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Filing your annual tax return can fray the nerves of even the calmest yogi. Here, five tips straight from the yoga playbook to breeze through April 15 with grace.
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by Erica Rodefer Winters

April 15 can spin even the most grounded yogi into an anxious whirlwind. And if you're a tax procrastinator (have you filed yet?), you may be feeling a bit undone right about now.

While yoga may be the last thing on your mind, your inner wise woman knows that even 10 minutes on your mat can clear your head and start to loosen the knots in your shoulders.

And don’t forget about one of yoga’s best gifts: non-attachment.

“Remember, this is just one day in your life,” says Bernadette Birney, a yoga teacher, writer, and life coach in Connecticut. “Know that you have the tools to deal with it, through yoga and the breath, and it will be over soon.”

We won’t tell you that doing your practice will help you out of a big tax bill, but it can make filing your return a little less stressful. Here are 5 tricks from yoga's tool-kit to move with grace through the process:

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You’ve been staring at Turbotax for hours and the numbers are starting to blur. Give your eyes a rest with this calming technique: Rub your hands together to warm them up, and then place them lightly over your eyes. Take five deep breaths and feel your eyes soften and relax.

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Your accountant tells you that you owe Uncle Sam—big. After you take a moment to mourn the Mexico yoga retreat you were planning, move yourself slowly into Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana). This hip-opener might help you release some of the emotions, and adding a soothing forward bend will help to calm your nervous system. “When we work with the hips, we can create or facilitate an emotional release,” says Birney. “Even more than that, there’s something about just getting down on the floor that is incredibly grounding. It’s like the closer you get to the ground, the more your body can be supported, and the more you can release what you are hanging onto emotionally.”

You finally sat down to prepare your taxes and realized you’re missing an important form. You're going to have to file late! Before you freak out, stop right where you are, and bring your attention to your breath. “Inhales stimulate the brain, while exhales are conducive to meditative states,” according to Richard Rosen, a yoga teacher who has written several books on pranayama. Gradually lengthening your exhale until it is twice as long as your inhale will soothe you. It won’t make the form appear in time to file your taxes, but it can help you keep your cool in the meantime.

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Yes! You’re getting an unexpected refund. Whether you decide to put it toward a rainy-day fun or go on a shopping spree, you’ll enjoy the windfall even more if you take a moment to practice gratitude for the fortuitous turn of events. Close your eyes, take a few breaths, and feel grateful for all of life’s blessings, big and small. (Remember, that making a shift toward gratitude is therapeutic if things don’t go your way at tax time, too.)

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viparita karani

You filed just in the nick of time, but the pressure has left your nerves frayed. Lie down on the floor and slide your legs up the wall in Viparita Karani. Bring your hands to your belly and take long, deep breaths to unwind from all the excitement and prepare your body and mind for rest.