There's nothing like impending deadlines and the "Go, go, go!" mentality to send your stress level skyrocketing. Unfortunately high levels of stress have become a workplace "norm" that many just accept. Which really isn't a stellar plan if you want to prioritize your health.
Instead of accepting stress as a byproduct of your career, you can fight back by making time for a 10-minute yoga break during your lunch. Simply cycle through the following poses, and as you do, focus on taking deep, slow breaths to help ease your tension. When incorporated into a daily routine, this type of slow, steady yoga has been shown to reduce stress hormones, including cortisol and adrenaline.
The next time you're feeling stressed, #takeamoment and try out these stress-relieving yoga poses.
Stand tall with your feet together, and "ground" yourself by balancing your weight evenly through your feet. Allow your arms to hang at your sides, your palms open and facing forward. Breathe deeply and slowly for 5 breaths.
Upward Salute pose
From Mountain pose, take an inhale as you rotate your palms outward and sweep your arms out laterally and over your head, extending your fingers to reach toward the ceiling. Keep your torso steady, your chest lifted, and look up toward your hands. Exhale as you sweep your arms back to your sides. Repeat 3 times.
Standing Forward Bend pose
From your final Upward Salute, exhale, and tip forward from the hips, sweeping your arms down toward the floor as you lean your torso forward. The goal is to touch your hands to the ground in front of your feet while keeping your knees straight. If you can't touch the ground, grasp your opposite elbow with your opposite hand, and simply hang in a forward fold. Breathe deeply, and focus on releasing tension through your neck and shoulders. Repeat 2 to 3 times.
Puppy Dog on Chair pose
To get a nice stretch through your back, chest and shoulders, perform a Puppy Dog on Chair pose, which is like a modified Downward Dog. Stand behind a sturdy chair, feet hip distance apart. Place your palms flat on the chair's back, about shoulder distance apart. Step your feet back, and as you do so, tip forward from the hips, lowering your torso between your extended arms until your back is flat and parallel to the floor. From this position, deepen the stretch by pressing your hips back and engaging your arms to reach them forward. Breathe deeply for 3 to 5 breaths. Repeat 2 to 3 times.
Fire Log pose
The Fire Log pose is great for releasing tension through your hips. Sit on the floor, your legs extended, your torso tall. Bend your left knee, and draw your left foot toward your body until you can place the sole of your left foot against your right inner thigh. Allow your left knee to open outward, the outside of your left leg touching the floor. From this position, bend your right knee, and cross your right leg over your left, stacking your calves one on top of the other. Breathe deeply for 3 to 5 breaths, maintaining good posture. Switch legs, and repeat.
Position yourself on the ground in a tabletop position, your knees under your hips, your palms under your shoulders, your torso and head parallel to the ground. Take a deep breath in, and as you do so, press your hips up as you simultaneously lift your chest and shoulders, causing your belly to sink toward the floor, "caving" your lower back. Look up. Hold for a breath, then move immediately into Cat pose.
From Cow pose, exhale as you round your spine up toward the ceiling, tucking your hips under as you allow your head to drop between your shoulders. Continue pressing your shoulders and spine away from the ground as you fully exhale.
Cycle between Cat and Cow pose 3 to 5 times, inhaling as you perform Cow pose and exhaling as you perform Cat pose.
After your final Cat pose, move immediately into Child's pose for a deeply relaxing stretch. From a tabletop position — palms under shoulders, knees under hips — angle your lower legs to bring your toes together to touch. Press your hips backward, and sit your glutes on top of your feet, relaxing your torso over your thighs. Extend your arms as far forward as you can, stretching your shoulders and upper back, and allow your forehead to rest against the floor. Take 3 to 5 deep breaths, and repeat 2 to 3 times.
Lie on your back, your knees bent, feet flat on the floor, your hands, palms down, next to your hips. Exhale, and press your hips up toward the ceiling, lifting your glutes and lower back away from the floor as you press through your feet, palms and shoulders. When your hips are raised as high as you can raise them, "walk" your shoulders in toward your spine as you bring your palms together under your hips and clasp your hands together. Take 2 to 3 deep breaths, then release back to the floor. Repeat 2 to 3 times.
Corpse pose literally couldn't be easier. Simply lie on the ground, your arms at your sides, palms up, and close your eyes. Allow your legs and feet to open outward so your body's in a neutral position. Take deep breaths, and try to let all thoughts or worries float away. Maintain the position as long as you like.
This post was sponsored by Aetna. It is for general informational purposes only and is not meant to replace the advice, diagnosis, or treatment of a physician or other health care professional.