5 Pose Stress Management Yoga Routine for Beginners

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Anyone Can Reduce Stress With Consistent Yoga Practice

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Dani Rodriguez/age fotostock/Getty Images

Stress is one of the biggest causes of health problems in modern life. Sometimes you know you feel stressed and can feel the repercussions in your mental and physical health, but many people have such stressful lives that they become inured to the warning signs and don’t realize the huge toll the stress is placing on their bodies until they are diagnosed with a serious condition like heart disease. Yoga is a proven stress reducer, but a lot of people with stressful lives think they don’t have the time or the skill to do enough yoga to significantly address the problem. This simply isn’t true. There are a number of yoga poses that almost anyone can do in a short amount of time that can have a profound effect. The biggest factor in success is consistency. If you do a little bit of the right kind of yoga every single day, you can reduce your risk of stress-related health conditions. To make up a short yoga routine, you’ll need to warm up a little and then do a forward bend, a backbend, a twist, and a mild inversion. The following routine consists of basic versions of each one of those types of poses plus options to increase the intensity if you are a more experienced yoga student. 

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Your Warm Up

Cat-Cow stretch
Ben Goldstein

Cat-Cow Stretch: 5 Rounds

A few rounds of cat-cow stretches will loosen up your back. Moving the spine is an integral part of this routine since so much tension is stored there. If you have more time, you can do a slightly longer warm-up sequence. You can even do cat-cow in a chair if that works better for your body. Pay special attention to your breath, making sure that your movements and breathing are both slow and deep.

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Your Forward Bend

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Standing Forward Bend - Uttanasana. © Barry Stone

Standing Forward Bend - Uttanasana: 5 Deep Breaths

A standing forward bend allows a lot of room for variation. You can stand with your feet touching, take them out to the edges of your mat or go even wider towards a straddle forward bend. Stretch your arms up to the ceiling and then slowly bend at the hips so you are rotating your torso toward the floor instead of slumping over. Once you get into the forward bend, you can play with the position of your arms, either letting them hang, holding opposite elbows, or interlacing them behind your back. A forward bend in a chair is also an option. Come up from any forward bend slowly to avoid a head rush.

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Your Backbend

Sphinx Pose
Sphinx Pose. © Barry Stone

Sphinx Pose: 5 Deep Breaths

Lie on your stomach propped up on your elbows to prepare for sphinx pose. It's important to keep your elbows right under your shoulders and to press firmly into your forearms to keep your shoulders from hunching up towards your ears. This pose has the added benefit of helping to prevent some kinds of low back pain. People looking for a deeper backbend can take this into full cobra, locust, or bow pose. 

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Your Twist

Supine Spinal Twist - Supta Matsyendrasana
Supine Spinal Twist - Supta Matsyendrasana. © Barry Stone

Supine Spinal Twist: 10 Breaths on Each Side

To do a simple twist, lie on your back a draw your knees into your chest. Then take your knees over to one side and outstretch your arms in a T position. Let gravity work to pull your knees and opposite shoulder to the ground. You can also choose to keep one leg outstretched as shown here. If you prefer a seated twist, try half lord of the fishes pose, which can also be done in a chair. If you attention has wandered from your breath, use this opportunity to bring it back as you relax into the twist on each exhale.

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Your Inversion and Final Relaxation

How to Do Legs Up the Wall
Legs Up the Wall - Viparita Karani. PeopleImages/E+/Getty Images

Legs Up the Wall: 20 Breaths

Combine a gentle inversion with your final relaxation by taking a few minutes in legs up the wall. If you have more time, try downward facing dog as your inversion and follow it up with five minutes in corpse pose

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