Yoga is one of the best stress relievers on the market. This practice combines the stretching your body needs to relieve tight muscles with deep breathing that can calm the mind. Try these poses to get some much needed relief! If you don't have the time or space to sprawl out, the positions that require sitting on the floor can be easily modified so you can do them seated at a desk.
To perform this position, sit on the floor crosslegged and comfortably. Some people may need a pillow if sitting directly on the floor is uncomfortable, but be sure to leave your ankles and legs free from the pillow. Keeping your chin level, exhale and look to your left as far as you can comfortably turn your head. Hold this position for four breaths, letting your neck and shoulders relax. Inhale as you face forward again, then exhale and turn your face to the right, again holding for four breaths.
From the same seated position as gazing rotation, drop your shoulders back and lift the top of your head toward the ceiling, letting your chin lower to your chest. As you exhale, slowly let your left ear fall to your left shoulder. Stay in that position for four breaths, allowing your ear get closer and closer to your shoulder. As you inhale, bring your head back to the center and repeat on the right side.
Seated Crescent Moon
If your upper body needs some release, try seated crescent moon. Sit in a chair in such a way that you can put your left hand on the left side of the chair, then lift your right arm straight up. Gently press your hips into the chair to provide stability and grounding. As you inhale, stretch through your right arm, leaning to the left, so that your body creates a slight arch. Turn your face to look at your hand and lift your chest toward the ceiling so you don’t lean too far forward. Hold this position for about five breaths. Inhale as you straighten back up, then repeat on the other side.
If you find yourself carrying stress in your upper back, check out folding leaf. Sitting in a chair, lean forward with your arms outstretched a shoulder width apart, until your fingers are resting on a table or desk. Then, slide the chair backward, letting your arms and hands fall slowly to the floor. Allow your chest to rest on the tops of your thighs while your arms dangle beside you, holding your hands together between your feet. Hang out as long as you want (at least a minute to be effective), then bring your hands back to chair level and sit up.
Standing Forward Bend
Standing forward bend is great for tension in the lower back or for after long periods of being seated. Stand up with your feet together and your palms touching in front of your chest. As you inhale, reach your arms out, palms down, keeping them shoulder width apart and parallel to the floor. Then raise them straight up over your head, so that your inner, upper arms almost touch your ears. As you exhale, bend at the hips, letting your head and arms hang down in front of you. Rest your hands on the floor if you can. If this is too extreme, you can bend your knees a little bit to ease tightened muscles. If it’s not enough, you can reach your hands behind you and hold onto your legs, gently pulling your head toward the front of your calves. Stay there for about a minute, and then roll your body back up to standing as you inhale.