What is anxiety? Do you often feel your heart racing? Is your breathing shallow? Do you just have moments when feelings
8 Best Post-Work Yoga Poses to Release Stress
Modern life is busy. We are in a constant state of rushing from one thing to another. It gets worse when you get to work – the place you spend 8+ hours a day. Office environments are often some of the most fast paced and stressful.
We’ve all been there before. You have an important email that needs to go out, you’re stuck at your desk waiting for a call, and there’s a meeting starting in six minutes. All this while trying to navigate interoffice dramas, feeding yourself, trying to fit in the gym and a personal life and oh!
You still need to get the washing done when you get home. It can be a lot and by the end of the day, your shoulders are around your ears with stress, your lower back is sore from the desk and your legs are stiff.
At our Bali Health Retreats we do a restorative yoga pratice to help women come back to balance, as we believe yoga is essential to the ongoing care and balance of your mind and body. Now we aren’t saying make time for yoga twice in one day, but 10 minutes before bed, straight after work or early in the morning will work wonders. So while time isn’t something the average office worker has in ample supply, a daily yoga practice does wonders for mindset, stress relief and body wellness.
With that in mind we have complied this quick and easy Yoga Flow that is perfect for the modern office woman. Created by our specialist Yogi who runs our daily yoga at our Women’s Yoga Retreat in Bali, – this is our Office Yoga Flow. Specifically put together to target all the areas that need a cool down, after a day at work.
Find a quiet spot, put down your yoga mat and get ready to release the work related tension from your limbs and mind.
1. Alternate Nostril Breathing (Nadi Sodhan)
Many of us may not think of breathing as a yoga pose, however this Office Yoga Flow starts with breath as a way to arrive into your body and release the work stress from your mind.
This form of yogic breathing is called Alternate Nostril Breathing. It’s a simple yet powerful technique that settles the mind, body, and emotions. You can use it to quiet your mind and ease racing thoughts if you are experiencing anxiety, stress, or even having trouble falling asleep.
- Take a comfortable and tall seat, making sure your spine is straight, shoulders are back and your heart is open.
- Relax your left palm comfortably into your lap or on your left knee and bring your right hand just in front of your face.
- With your right hand, bring your index finger and middle finger to rest between your eyebrows, lightly using them as an anchor. The fingers we’ll be actively using are the thumb and ring finger.
- Close your eyes and take a deep breath in and out through your nose.
- Close your right nostril with your thumb. Inhale through the left nostril slowly and steadily till you fill up your lungs.
- Close the left nostril with your ring finger so both nostrils are held closed; retain your breath at the top of the inhale for a brief pause.
- Open your right nostril and release the breath slowly through the right side; (slow enough that if there was a candle in front of you, you wouldn’t blow it out) pause briefly at the bottom of the exhale.
- Inhale through the right side slowly.
- Hold both nostrils closed (with ring finger and thumb).
- Open your left nostril and release breath slowly through the left side. Pause briefly at the bottom.
- Repeat 5-10 cycles, allowing your mind to follow and focus on your inhales and exhales.
Steps 5-9 represent one complete cycle of Alternate Nostril Breathing. If you’re moving through the sequence slowly, one cycle should take you about 30-40 seconds. Move through 5-10 cycles until any feelings of stress, anxiety and thoughts of work have left your mind.
Now that you have fully arrived to be present fold into:
2. Bound Angle Pose (Baddha Konasana)
This particular pose is beautiful for women to practice, as it relieves the symptoms of menstrual cycles and menopause by circulating energy through the pelvic organs. It is very effective at reducing the stiffness in hip joints that arises after sitting in a chair for long periods of time.
How to do the Bound Angle Pose: Sit with your legs straight out in front of you, raising your pelvis on a blanket if your hips are too tight. Exhale, bend your knees, pull your heels toward your pelvis, then drop your knees out to the sides and press the soles of your feet together.
Bring your heels as close to your pelvis as you comfortably can. With the first and second finger and thumb, grasp the big toe of each foot. Always keep the outer edges of the feet firmly on the floor. If it isn’t possible to hold the toes, clasp each hand around the ankle or shin.
Sit so that the pubis in front and the tailbone in back are balanced equally, this keeps the pelvis in a neutral position. Firm the sacrum and shoulder blades against the back and lengthen the torso.
Never force your knees down. Instead release and relax the thighs. Stay in this pose anywhere from 1 to 5 minutes. Then inhale, lift your knees away from the floor, and extend the legs back to their original position. Shake out any tension, then turn over so you are sitting on your knees in preparation for:
3. Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Downward Dog is used in most yoga practices and it stretches and strengthens the entire body. It is also one of the best postures for the chest muscles. Most of us who sit in a chair all day have chest muscles that are overly tight, but not necessarily all that strong. This comes due to the ‘hunched’ position most of us get when we sit at a desk all day.
How to do Downward Facing Dog: Go on to all fours with your wrists under your shoulders and knees under your hips. Tuck your toes and lift your hips up off the floor as you draw them up at back towards your heels.
Keep your knees slightly bent if your hamstrings are tight, otherwise try and straighten out your legs while keeping your hips back. Walk your hands forward to give yourself more length if you need to.
Press firmly through your palms and rotate the inner elbows towards each other. Hollow out the abdominals and keep engaging your legs to keep the torso moving back towards the thighs. Hold for 5-8 breaths before dropping back to hands and knees to rest, take a moment and slowly stand.
4. Tree Pose (Vriksasana)
Come into Tree Pose.
The Tree Pose is a standing balance asana great for beginners and the more advanced to work on. It is the perfect pose to help ground you if you are having a whirlwind week. It creates peace in your mind and in your body, and is a wonderful way to slow down when life gets overwhelming. Curbing anxiety and stress is just one of the emotional responses this posture encourages.
How to do Tree Pose: Start with your feet together and place your right foot on your inner left upper thigh. Press your hands in prayer at hearts centre and find a spot in front of you that you can hold in a steady gaze. If it feels right raise your hands into a prayer above your head.
Hold and breathe for 8-10 breaths. Make sure you don’t lean in to the standing leg and keep your abdominals engaged and shoulders relaxed. Breathe deeply and then slowly place your leg down. Instead of doing Tree pose with your left leg, continue onwards with the flow and we will return to this pose.
5. Garland Pose (Malasana)
The Garland Pose is particularly great for pregnant women and for health in general as it stretches the calves, inner thighs, relieves the back ache from sitting at a desk and opens the pubic symphysis in the the pelvis.
How to do the Garland Pose: Come down into a squat with your feet as close together as possible. (Keep your heels on the floor if you can; otherwise, support them on a folded mat.)
Separate your thighs slightly wider than your torso. Exhaling, lean your torso forward and fit it snugly between your thighs.
Press your elbows against your inner knees, bringing your palms to together and resist the knees into the elbows. This will help lengthen your front torso.
Hold the position for 30 seconds to 1 minute, then inhale, straighten the knees, and stand.
6. Warrior 2 (Virabhadrasana 2)
Warrior 2 is a power stance that that specifically targets the hips, inner thighs and groin, while also being a full body pose that essentially—if you’re doing it correctly—works every muscle you’ve got. Warrior 2 is specifically great to practice during the working week as it develops concentration, circulation and respiration and energizes the entire body.
How to do Warrior 2: Bring the right forwards and send your left leg back about a leg’s-length apart. keep yoru right foot facing the front of your mat and turn your left foot out at 45 degrees. Bend your right knee until it is directly over your right ankle while keeping the torso even between the hips.
Stretch your arms out to the front and back of your mat and gaze over your right hand. Hold for 8-10 breaths.
7. Warrior 1 (Virabhadrasana 1)
Warrior 1 is a gentle backbend; and a great pose for stretching open the front body (quads, hip flexors, psoas) while strengthening the legs, hips, buttocks, core and upper body. It is great for those with sedentary jobs as it stimulates the metabolism as well as restores the spine. It also helps release stress from the shoulders almost immediately.
How to do warrior 1: Staying in Warrior 2 raise your arms above your head with the palms facing each other, or bring the palms together crossing the thumbs, or interlace the fingers together and point the index finger up. Keep the shoulders relaxed and the chest lifted, carefully arch back and look up towards the ceiling. Keep your hips squared to the front and bend deeply into your front leg, letting the heat build in your thigh. Hold here for 3-6 breaths.
*Note at this point return to Downward Facing Dog then repeat poses 4 – 7 with your left leg.
8. Child’s Pose (Balasana)
One of our favorite poses and a great one to end with is Child’s Pose, this is a fantastic resting pose and way of finishing off your practice; it’s great not just for beginners but to be used by Yogis of all levels.
This is a great go to pose to use when you’re fatigued after a long day, to use before bed at night or anytime you need a mental break to work out any tension and stress relief.
How to do Child’s Pose: From Warrior 1 come down onto your knees so they are folded under you. Spread your knees as wide as your mat, keeping the tops of your feet on the floor with the big toes touching. Bring your belly to rest between your thighs and your forehead to the floor. Stretch your arms forward or gently lay them by your side and let your entire body release. Hold for as long as you wish!
Come back into your body. You may want to end your practice with setting an intention or saying a mantra out loud, such as “I will only grow stronger from my challenges.” or “I own my feelings and thoughts.” Otherwise end on a prayer with Namaste.
Want another Yoga flow? Click here for our longer restorative Yin Yoga Flow for cultivating inner peace at home.
If you are still feeling stressed click here for our 5 tips for relaxing and distressing, or if you’re in need of a longer rest and reset it may be time for a Yoga Retreat to restore and realign with your true self. Click here to compare retreats.