When we’re stressed we forget to breathe properly and tense up, trapping our energy.  Calming stretches and deep breathing helps release the blocked energy so you can de-stress body, mind and spirit.  Here are five stretches and/or restorative poses that help calm your nervous system and help restore a sense of balance and peace.  Namaste. 

Cat Cow 

Cat/Cow while coordinating your breathing relieves stress and calms the mind.  It helps with flexibility to the spine, releases the back torso and neck, and softly stimulates the kidneys and adrenal glands. 

How to do it:  Start on your hands and knees with wrists directly under shoulders and your knees directly under hips. Point fingertips to the top of mat.  Place shins and knees hip-width apart and soften gaze downward.  Begin with cow by inhaling as you drop your bellow toward the mat and lift your chin and Chest and look up to ceiling.  Next, move into Cat pose, as you exhale, draw your belly up to your spine and round your back toward the ceiling.  Inhale, going to back into Cow pose and repeat 15-20 times.  

Downward dog.

Elongates cervical spine and helps relieve tension and trapped energy in body and head.  

How to do it: Get on your hands and knees with hands directly below your shoulders and knees directly below your hips. Spread your fingers wide and tuck your toes under. Inhale and lift your knees off the floor, pressing your hips up toward the ceiling. Draw your heels down to the floor or keep a slight bend in your knees. Press your hands firmly into the mat and draw your shoulder blades down. Keep the head between the arms (don’t let it hang). Take deep breaths the entire time.

Legs up the Wall 

This is a restorative pose that helps to reduce tension in your back, shoulders, and neck while promoting deep relaxation and rest for the nervous system.

How to do it:  Sit next to a wall with the right side of your body against the wall.  Lie on your back and swing your legs straight up the wall.  Scoot so your hips are up against the wall (or close to it) and legs are straight up the wall. Rest your arms in a comfortable position and remain in this resting pose for up to 10 minutes.  

Laying Spinal Twist 

Helps lengthen and release trapped energy in the spine.  Increases flexibility in hips and low back and stimulates digestive system.  

How to do it: Lie on your back and bring both knees in toward your chest. Bring your hands out to your sides and draw your knees up and over to your left side. Keeping your shoulder blades on the ground, rest your knees on top of one another. Take deep breaths the entire time. When changing sides (after holding for 30 seconds), make sure to use your core muscles to bring your legs back to center.

Standing Forward Fold With Shoulder Stretch

This pose helps to calm the brain, relieve stress, mild depression and reduces fatigue and anxiety as well as stimulates the liver and kidneys. 

How to do it: Stand with feet wider than shoulder-width apart and clasp your hands together behind you.  With hands clasped, fold forward from your hips and bring your chest toward your legs and head toward the floor, keeping your lower back flat as you move.  Lift your arms so they follow your head .  Hold for at least 5 deep breaths.  

(note, if you can’t clasp hands behind you, you can hold a strap or towel to bridge the gap.  If you have low back sensitivity, bend your knees slightly as you forward fold).