We’ve always known stress is incredibly unhealthy. It can make you sick, is harmful to your mental, emotional and physical well-being, and just makes daily life miserable. We want to be productive and happy, and de-stressing is a big part of that. Stress is also an enemy to weight loss.
The good news is you can battle stress and work toward weight loss simultaneously with restorative yoga. Below are some poses to help calm the mind, emotions and body. Remember to take the time to breathe, as well. It’ll help with the stress — and the poses!
Legs Up The Wall
Place your yoga mat against the wall. “Sit on the mat with your right hip flush against the wall or a foot away from if that proves to be too difficult. Supporting yourself with your arms, recline onto your back and extend your legs up the wall. Let your ankles rotate outward and your feet settle about hips width apart. Walk your shoulders away from your ears. Turn your palms to face up. Place a folded blanket on top of your belly and an eye pillow over your eyes. Stay in this position for 5-10 minutes,” says Julie Wilcox, founder of the Julie Wilcox Method.
We store a lot of emotion, tension, and stress in our hips, so hip openers like pigeon are a wonderful way to release. This pose can be intense and uncomfortable, but just like anything, if you allow yourself to sit with that discomfort and soften into it using the breath as a guide, the sweet release will come eventually, along with all of the benefits of letting go.
“From downward facing dog, place the right knee behind the right wrist and lay the right shin down onto the mat. Untuck the left toes and then slide the left leg all the way back behind you. Be sure the left leg extends directly from the hip, and that the foot is in line with the leg. Square your hips in front of you and use a prop like a block or a blanket to prop up your right hip if needed. Release onto your forearms and drop your head onto the mat or a block. Extend your arms all the way out in front of you. Breathe deeply, in and out through the nose,” says Julie Weber, a yoga instructor at Serene Social, a rooftop yoga partner of The James New York.
When you are ready to release, walk your fingertips back up towards the hips, tuck your back toes and make your way back to downward dog. Repeat on the left.
“With your feet on the floor, hip-width and parallel, bend your knees tracking them over your toes. Lengthen your arms ahead of you. Stay there for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Every time you exhale, contract in your lower belly, and on each inhalation, lengthen your side waists,” says Lauren Weisman, mind body director at exhale Santa Monica. Chair pose is excellent for strengthening your legs, glutes and upper back. It is also excellent for fat burning and for focusing your mind.
“In yoga, I find clients most easily de-stressed by a serious challenge – that way they are forced to take their mind off of their own emotions. This pose is challenging, dynamic and will increase the heart rate into a fat burning zone,” says Bizzie Gold, Founder, BUTI Yoga and a celebrity trainer.
Forward Twisting Restorative Pose
“Sit with one hip against the short end of a yoga bolster. Bend your knees in front of you, one loosely on top of the other. Slowly walk each hand to either side of the bolster and forward taking deep breaths as you lower your abdomen onto the bolster. When your whole torso is on the bolster, allow your arms to settle about inch above the top end of it with your elbow slightly bent. Turn your head toward your knees and lay the side of your face down. For a deeper twist, turn your face and deepen the rotation of your torso away from your knees. Switch sides. Hold each side for five minutes,” says Wilcox.
Lunge to Balancing Stick
“In the same vein as above, the challenge element inherent in this dynamic exercise set forces the student to dedicate 100% of their focus to their body and balancing. Students will move from yoga high lunge with arms extended overhead to Balancing Stick and repeat for approximately 30 seconds,” says Gold.
This helps with weight loss because you are strengthening your leg muscles while lengthening your back and backs of the legs. “When you strengthen muscles, you burn more fat. You’ll also breathe and your nervous system will start to relax, which will reduce stress and therefore help you lose weight,” says Stephanie Mansour, CEO of Step It Up with Steph, a TV Personality, lifestyles coach, and certified yoga instructor.
“Lie on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor. Taking your arms to a ‘T’ shape, bring your knees up to your left diagonal and stay there for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Then repeat on the other side,” says Weisman. Twists are excellent for detoxifying and for creating a healthy spine. This asana will calm you and also help your body to function efficiently.
“From Mountain pose, bring your hands to your heart center, shift your weight onto your left leg and bring your right foot to your left inner thigh (left ankle will do if that’s better for you). Making sure that your hips are level, and reach your arms overhead for a challenge,” says Weisman. Tree is an excellent stabilizer for the mind and an excellent challenge for your core. Be sure to repeat on each side.
“You’ll be working your core like crazy to maintain this pose, which will help shrink the waistline and also build confidence in yourself,” says Mansour.
Fallen Triangle Hip Pulses
“From Fallen Triangle pose, feet staggered, drop your hip down toward the floor and quickly engage the upper oblique to raise the hip back up to start position. This pose requires significant core strength, single arm balance and focus. This repetition would last approximately 30 seconds per set,” says Gold.
Reclined Bound Angle
Make an L with two blocks, one standing vertically and the other lined up from its base (this one is on the lower level). “Place a bolster over the blocks so it looks like a slide (diagonal). Sit an inch or two in front of the bolster. Recline onto the bolster, making sure that your spine is straight. Bring the soles of your feet together. If your knees are high off the ground, place two blocks under your thighs (one under each). Lay an eye pillow over your eyes. Turn your palms up and let your shoulders drape over the edges of the bolster. Hold for 5-10 minutes,” says Wilcox.