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Yoga Practice

The Stress-Busting Yoga Sequence to Conquer Tension

Try these 15 soothing poses to get rid of all that tension you’re carrying around.

Try these 15 soothing poses to get rid of all that tension you’re carrying around. 

reclined hero pose, supta  virasana

Soften spots that tend to cling to stress and tension (hello, low back, hips, and thighs!) with grounding squats, passive backbends, mild inversions, and refreshing twists. Energetically, the poses aim to rebalance apana vayu (downward-moving energy), allowing the mind to calm and the body to relax. Here’s the perfect sequence to calm frazzled nerves. As you progress through the poses, you’ll encourage the nervous system to settle down; the breath retention and rhythmic breathing exercises will help your body and mind emerge refreshed.

Fish Pose, supported variation

corpse pose variation, savasana

MATSYASANA

Rest your head on a block in its highest position and your mid-upper back on a block at its middle height. Bend knees, and place the soles of your feet on the floor. Relax your shoulder blades, and breathe for 1-3 minutes.

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Reclining Hero Pose, supported

reclined hero pose, supta  virasana

SUPTA VIRASANA

Place a bolster lengthwise at one end of your mat and a folded blanket on its far end. Sit between your heels with the bolster behind you, and lie back on it, head resting on the blanket. Stay here for 1-3 minutes.

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Tree Pose, variation

tree pose, vrksasana

VRKSASANA

Come to standing. Balance on your right leg; place your left foot against your inner right thigh. Interlace fingers; press your palms up overhead. Pause for 1-2 seconds at the end of each exhalation. Repeat on other side.

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Garland Pose

yogi squat pose, malasana

MALASANA

Step feet shoulder-width apart. Bend your knees, and sink into a squat. Balance between the heels and balls of your feet. Press your palms together at heart level; press elbows against your inner knees.

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Standing Forward Bend, variation

i.t. band forward fold pose

UTTANASANA

Place your hands on the mat, lift your hips, straighten your legs, and fold forward. Cross your right leg behind your left. Lengthen up through your tailbone and down through your crown. Repeat poses 4-5 on other side.

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Downward-Facing Dog Pose, variation

down dog pose, ado mukha svana

ADHO MUKHA SVANASANA

Step or hop back to Down Dog. Cross your right leg behind your left. Lengthen up through your tailbone and down through your heels. Hang your head. At the end of each exhalation, pause for 1-2 seconds.

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Three-Legged Downward-Facing Dog Pose

one-legged down dog pose, eka pada ado mukha svana

Lift your right leg to hip height. Lengthen through your inner right leg, and reach back through your right heel.

Pigeon Pose

half pigeon pose, eka pada rajakpotasana

EKA PADA RAJAKAPOTASANA

Lower your right knee to the mat between your hands. Extend through your left leg, and balance your weight between your hips. Elongate your spine; rest your forehead on a block. Breathe gently into your low back. Repeat poses 6-8 on second side.

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Child’s Pose, variation

child's pose variation

BALASANA

Lower your hips onto your heels, and press back to Child’s Pose with straight arms. Walk your hands to the left until you feel a good stretch along your right torso. Gently breathe. Repeat pose on other side.

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Dolphin Pose

dolphin pose

Come to all fours and then onto your forearms. Interlace your fingers, curl your toes under, lift your knees and hips, and straighten your legs. Hang your head, and lift your tailbone to lengthen the spine. Pause at the end of each exhalation.

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Cow Face Pose, variation

seated twist pose,

GOMUKHASANA

Sit down, and stack your right knee on top of your left, keeping your sit bones rooted and between your feet. Gently twist to the right. Relax your jaw and shoulders. Change the cross of your legs; repeat on other side.

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Upward Plank Pose

upward-facing plank pose, purvottanasana

PURVOTTANASANA

Unwind your legs, and extend them in front of you. Place your hands on the floor behind your hips with fingers pointing toward your seat. Lift your hips, and press the balls of your feet into the floor. Drop your head.

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Eye-of-the-Needle Pose

thread the needle pose

SUCIRANDHRASANA

Lie on your back; bend both knees. Stack your right ankle on top of your left thigh. Interlace your fingers behind the left thigh. Flex your heels, and guide your legs toward your torso. Repeat pose on other side.

Half Wind-Relieving Pose

wind removing pose, pavanamuktasana

ARDHA PAVANAMUKTASANA

Extend your legs flat onto the floor. Bring your right leg toward your chest, and interlace your fingers behind your right thigh. Relax and lengthen through both heels. Repeat on other side.

Revolved Abdomen Pose

double leg supine twist, supta matsyendrasana

JATHARA PARIVARTANASANA

Bend your knees, and draw your legs in toward your chest. Lower your legs to the right. Hold onto your top leg with your right hand. Relax your shoulder blades; breathe into your left side. Repeat on other side.

Fish Pose, supported variation

corpse pose, savasana

MATSYASANA

Sit up, and place a bolster under your knees. Lie back over a blanket roll placed below your shoulder blades. Place a folded blanket on your thighs and an eye pillow over your eyes. Breathe gently for 5–15 minutes.