5 Yoga Poses to do When You Are Feeling Stressed

When you need to unwind here are 5 poses that are great for easing tension in the body and calming the mind.

If you need something to break up sitting at your desk, or an transition between work and home duties, or you need something to help you settle before bed or you are just feeling tense in your body, stressed and tired, here are 5 poses you can do just on their own or all together to help guide you back to calm.

Legs up the wall pose //Viparita Karani //

This is a passive, restorative yoga pose that doesn’t require much flexibility or strength. It is wonderful for relieving tension and assists the body to relax as it  activates the parasympathetic nervous system (see last weeks post on this). It is a lovely pose to do before bed to facilitate a sense of calm and help with getting deep sleep.

Start by sitting with your side next to the wall as close as you can, then lie down onto your back with your knees in toward your chest. Then pivot yourself so your lower back is now against the wall and straighten out your legs to lean against the wall. You want to feel like the wall is supporting your spine as well but if having your lower back and hips right on the wall is too much in your back and hamstrings you can shuffle them a way a little bit. Use a blanket to keep warm. Close your eyes and rest you hands on your heart or your belly and just watch your breath. Variation: bend the knees outward and bring the soles of your feet together (like in butterfly pose).

Supine twist // Supta Matsyendrasana //

A great pose if you are feeling tense and need to unwind and helps to release tension in the back and neck.

Lie on your back and bring your knees into your chest, let them fall out to the right side and rest them on the ground. If your legs are not touching the ground, use a pillow or bolster underneath them so you can feel really supported. Rest your arms on your torso or let them fall out like wings, where ever feels the most relaxing for you, keep it passive. Breathe deeply in and out and stay for a minute or 2. Repeat on the other side.


A classic Yin pose, this is a really accessible forward fold. It is a good for opening up the back and the hips where we hold a lot of tension. It also is a pose that really helps us to turn inward and contract as opposed to heart openers that are expanding and open to everything and we usually spend our day with our chests open so it’s nice to retract back in for a bit.

Find a comfortable seat with your sit bones nice and grounded, sit on a pillow if it is more comfortable. Draw both heals in toward one another and keep them quite far out from the groin so that your knees splay out to the side, like a diamond shape. Play around with the distance of your heels in relation to your body to a place that feels just right, and then round the spine and fold over your legs. No striving to touch the ground or your feet, just let gravity do the wok, remain passive and heavy in the upper body. Your hands can rest limply by your side, hands lying next to the feet or if this feeling like a strain on the neck, you can use a pillow/bolster in between your legs and let your head rest on that.  Stay here, brathign deeply for 3-5 minutes.

Melting heart pose //Anahatasana//

A good pose for releasing tension in between the shoulders and the upper back and as the name suggests, a softening of the heart. Another psoe also that allows us to go inward.

Start on your hands and knees and then walk your hands out infront of you taking them about shoulder width apart, allow your chest to melt down toward the floor and if you can rest your chest on the ground let it rest on the ground, if it doesn’t you may like to use a pillow or bolster so you can also feel supported. Keep your hips above and in-line with your knees. Keep the forehead on the ground, or if it is ok on your neck, rest your chin on the ground and look forward.  Hold for 3-5 minutes with deep inhales and exhales. When you gently come out of the pose rest in childs pose to counter it.

Corpse pose //Shavasana//

The ultimate wind down pose and perfect relaxer when anything else, even the most passive of poses feels too much. Shavasana allows the opportunity to lay your body down, feel supported by the earth below you, find some space and calm the mind in quiet observation.

Find a quiet place to lie down on the ground. Support yourself with pillows/bolster where you like, for example under the head or maybe under the knees. Cover yourself with a blanket to stay warm. Arms out wide laying by the side of your body but so they are not touching the body, palms up. Legs stretched out in front and also quite wide, feet floppy. Close your eyes down. Let go of breath control, just watch it rise and fall, watch the mind and gently send any thoughts on their way.

Stay for 5-10 minutes.