Stressed or Anxious? Try This 15-Minute Yoga Flow
When you’re stressed or anxious, your body and mind can feel tense and agitated. Taking a few minutes to breathe deeply and stretch your body can make a huge difference in helping to improve your mood and make you feel lighter, calmer, and more emotionally balanced. If you could use a little break from the demands of life, do this 15-minute relaxing yoga flow designed to welcome calmness and peace.
While you can do this yoga flow anywhere, it may help you feel more tranquil if you practice in a quiet, dimly lit space. Put on some chill music, light a candle or two, and take time to enjoy each of these poses for one minute, which is about 10 breaths. By the end, your breathing should feel more even, your mind more still, and your body more grounded.
Related: Yoga Sequence For Happiness
Cat and Cow
- Begin on the floor on your hands and shins, with your knees under your hips, and your wrists under your shoulders. The spine should be in a neutral position, with your back flat and your abs engaged.
- Take a breath in, and as you exhale, round your spine up to the ceiling, pulling your abs toward your spine, and simultaneously tuck in your tailbone and tuck your chin toward your chest. This is called Cat.
- As you inhale, let your belly soften, arch your back, and lift your head and tailbone. This part of the stretch is called Cow.
- Continue flowing back and forth from Cat to Cow, cycling through at your own pace for one minute.
Wide Child's Pose
- From Cat Cow, sit back on your shins and separate your knees, so they’re wider than hips-width distance apart. Take a deep breath in, and as you exhale, fold forward, extending your arms out in front of you or resting beside your legs.
- Turn your cheek to the floor and breathe deeply for 30 seconds. Then turn your cheek to the other side for another 30.
Wide Squat Reach
- From Child’s Pose, sit up and come into a Wide Squat with your feet wider than hips-width distance apart.
- Lower your left arm out to the side, planting your palm if you can for stability.
- Reach your right arm into the air, gazing toward your lifted hand to encourage your spine to twist.
- Stay like this for 20 seconds, then repeat on the other side for another 20.
- Come back to center, and walk your hands out in front of you, bowing your head and relaxing in Extended Wide Squat for 20 seconds.
Standing Forward Bend Clasped Elbows
- From Extended Wide Squat, walk the feet in so they are hips-width distance apart, and slowly straighten the legs, keeping the head below the heart.
- Keep the legs relaxed, bending the knees slightly if you need to.
- Bend the arms, and take hold of opposite elbows.
- Keep your weight pressing forward in the toes as you enjoy this stretch for the lower back and hamstrings for one minute.
- From Standing Forward Bend, come onto your belly with your legs behind you.
- Place your forearms on the mat, so your elbows are underneath your shoulders. Keep your hips resting on the floor as you gently press your chest away from your hands.
- Actively roll your shoulders away from your ears, elongating the neck. Gaze in front of you or lower your head back between your shoulder blades to deepen the stretch.
- Hold for 30 seconds with the head lifted, then tuck the chin to stretch the back of the neck, and breathe deeply for another 30.
Chest Opening Spinal Twist
- From Sphinx, lower your chest to the floor and extend your arms out wide, palms facing down and in line with the shoulders.
- Place your left palm underneath your left shoulder, and push into the floor to roll onto the right side of the body.
- If it feels OK on your shoulder, turn this into a spinal twist by bending your left knee and placing it on the floor behind you.
- Lean back into your left foot and right hand as much as you can, gently pressing your left hand into the floor for support.
- Enjoy 30 seconds on each side.
- From Chest Opening Spinal Twist, come back onto the belly, press yourself up onto the hands and knees, and bring your right knee forward between your hands, lowering into Pigeon pose. If your hips are more open, inch your right foot away from you, keeping your left hip and thigh pointing down toward the mat.
- Rest on the forearms or relax the torso and head all the way down.
- Hold here, breathing into any areas of tightness and tension, for 30 seconds, and then switch to the left side.
Head to Knee
- From Pigeon on the left side, keep the left knee bent, and swing your right leg forward, placing the sole of your left foot against your right inner thigh.
- Fold your torso over your right leg. Rest your hands on the floor on either side of your leg, on your shin, or wrap your hands around your right foot.
- Breathe deeply, enjoying this hamstring and hip stretch for 30 seconds, sit up, and repeat on the left side for another 30.
- From Head to Knee with the right knee bent, sit up and bend your left knee, placing it on top, so your knees, shins, and ankles are stacked. You’ll know you’re doing it right when you gaze down and see that your legs make a little triangle.
- You may find your top knee to be high up toward the ceiling. It’s OK! It just means that your hips are tight, so just stay where you are and breathe.
- To make this pose more intense, place your hands in front of your shins and walk them out as far as you can, folding your chest toward your legs.
- Stay here for 30 seconds, slowly release, and then switch legs, so your right knee is on top.
- From Double Pigeon, sit on the floor with your heels together, knees out wide.
- Inhale, keeping the spine long, and gently fold forward as you exhale. Rest your hands on your ankles, and as you breathe deeply, begin to intensify this stretch by walking your hands out in front of your feet.
- Enjoy this hip opener for one minute.
- From Butterfly, extend your legs in a Wide Straddle.
- Keep your torso upright, and rest your hands on your thighs or knees.
- As you’re ready, you can begin to fold forward toward the floor.
- Keeping the core strong, breathe deeply, stretching the hamstrings and lower back for one minute.
- From Wide Straddle, gently roll onto your back, bend both knees, and hold onto the outside edges of your flexed feet with your hands. Keep your arms on the outsides of your legs.
- Gently use your upper body strength to equally press both knees to the floor below your armpits. Try not to tense your shoulders or chest, but keep your upper body relaxed.
- Breathe deeply for one minute. Feel free to rock gently from side to side.
- From Happy Baby, release hold of your feet, and place your right ankle on your left thigh above your knee. See the shape of the number four? It is there, just upside down.
- Reach your right hand through the open space created by your right leg, and grab your left hand, which is reaching around the outside of your left thigh. Slowly bend your left knee toward your chest. You should feel a stretch on the outside of your right hip.
- Enjoy this stretch for your piriformis muscle for 30 seconds, then repeat on the other side.
- Release the Figure Four pose, and bend both knees into your chest, extending your arms out in T position.
- Slowly lower both knees to the right. Rest them on the ground, and turn your head to the left.
- Hold here for 30 seconds, feeling your spine lengthen and twist.
- Use your abs to lift your knees back to center, and roll them to the other side for another 30.
- After doing the Spinal Twist on the left side, lie on your back, and close your eyes. Extend your arms a few inches away from the body, with your palms facing up. Put about 15 to 20 inches between your heels, allowing your feet to fall open with the toes pointing out. Actively shrug your shoulder blades down toward your hips. Lengthen through the spine as much as possible, relaxing your lower back toward the floor.
- After you’ve found a comfortable position, stay here for one minute (or longer if you have time).