The stretches in this section will help you to manage the physical tension and stress depression associated with stress, they will also help to prevent future tension from building up. Before you begin, please read the Stress and Yoga page to deepen your understanding of what causes stress, and why yoga can help manage and control stress symptoms.
You may want to read the Meditation page and the How to Meditate page, these two pages will give you further insight into what role Meditation plays in Stress Management. To help you with the physical practice of the stretches and postures animated below you should consider purchasing our synergistic DVD called “The Waterfall, Twenty Stretches For Stress” located in the Yoga Boutique section of this web site. This DVD will help you to correctly sequence these powerful stretches and postures. The “Waterfall DVD” clearly explains each stretch giving detailed descriptions of their physical effects and their proper form. You may use this DVD in conjunction with the Animations to give you a more complete understanding of the pace and intensity of these exercises. The Essays, the Animations, and the “Waterfall” DVD, as well as email, contact me, AVA, the instructor in the DVD, and the creator of these animations are all essential components of my unique Online Stress Management Program. Enjoy the Animations and I encourage you to email me if you have any questions about the Stress Animations, or my Stress DVD, “The Waterfall”.
Please read the instructions at the bottom of this page before you begin these exercises. Here are 20 Of The Worlds Most Effective Stretches For Stress
Stress is most typically held in the shoulders and the nape of the neck, so many of these exercises target these areas specifically. These same exercises are continuous motion exercises that are only to be held for a few seconds in their extreme positions, so please read the instructions carefully. Whether you use the animations alone or have the aid of the “Waterfall DVD” to help you, I recommend that you start gradually then build up to half an hour of practice every day. You should follow each session with at least three to ten minutes of the Corpse Pose, followed by one or two breathing exercises, please reference the Breathing sections of this web site.
You should never force any of these exercises, if you start to feel any pain or discomfort it is recommended that you stop exercising. Always stay focused on your body, feel it’s movements, close your eyes, and always breathe in and out through your nostrils. The Wood Chopper being the exception to this rule, with this exercise you should exhale very forcefully through your mouth. The Wood Chopper is a very powerful tension reliever and body energizer, but those with back problems might find it too demanding. The Corpse pose on the other hand demands total stillness and is the best pose to relieve stress. Always try to coordinate your breathing with the movements. The seated poses may be done in either the Full Lotus or Half Lotus pose or they may be done in a chair.
A steady effort will bring lasting results
You may conclude your sessions with this Meditation.
Lay on your back on the floor in the corpse pose and close your eyes. Slowly survey your body for tension, find areas where you might be holding your muscles unconsciously. Then mentally go to those muscles and suggest that they relax. Say the word relax to yourself as you let go of your muscles. Do this gradually from head to foot. After this become aware of your breathing. Simply feel your breath as it enters and exits through your nostrils. As the air rushes in through the nostrils feel its coolness inside of your head. Focus on this sensation of coolness and suggest to yourself that it feels very refreshing. Now refocus your attention on your body’s weight and mass. Feel the weight of your body laying on the floor and suggest to yourself that you are feeling lighter and lighter, less weighty. Do this again gradually. Imagine finally that you are as light as a balloon or a feather, do this with full sincerity. Imagine yourself drifting freely away as if you’re floating off in the wind. Let GO COMPLETELY. Stay with this image for a few minutes, then return your focus to the weight of your body. Feel your weight gradually returning. Now become aware of your senses one at a time, what is it that you hear, what do you taste in your mouth, what do you smell in the air. Then at the end of this process suggest to yourself that you feel very secure, protected, and loved. Say to yourself I am at peace and I feel very healthy and very strong. Then finally say a little prayer of appreciation for all that good in your life. Open your eyes and slowly sit up.
Try to set aside at least a half hour time for a session.
The Upward Arm Stretch
Upward Arm Stretch Purpose This exercise is one in a series designed to relieve stress and tension from the middle of your shoulders and the nape of the neck. By contracting and stretching these areas tension is released from the whole body.
Extended Arm Stretch
Extended Arm Stretch Purpose
This exercise is one in a series designed to relieve stress and tension from the middle of your shoulders and the nape of the neck. By contracting and stretching these areas.
Extended Arm Stretch Instructions
Bring your arms up to your sides, palms facing down. Try to keep your arms always at shoulder height. INHALE then twist your torso to your right and look at your right hand. Hold the pose as you also hold your breath, for several seconds, then EXHALE and twist to your left and look at your left hand for a few sec. Then come back to center position where you INHALE Start again this time reverse the twist and turn to the left, hold the pose and your breath, for a few sec. Then EXHALE to turn to the right, completely expel your breath. Return to the center IHALE. That is one set. Do two sets of tension is released from the whole body.
Undulating Spine Stretch
Undulating Spine Stretch Purpose
This exercise is one in a series designed to relieve stress and tension from the middle of your shoulders and the nape of the neck. By contracting and stretching these areas tension is released from the whole body.
Undulating Spine Stretch Instructions
Start by standing with the legs apart, feet facing forward and placed right underneath the shoulders. Bend both knees. Place the palms of the hands on the knees, continue to keep the arms straight, begin to sit down further and further not quite to knee level, you should feel your shoulder muscles stretch. Feel the stretch in the spine. Now INHALE leading with your chin, keep your head up then EXHALE slowly, keep your back flat as you lower your torso and bend your elbows. You should feel the shoulder muscles contract as you come down, look down at the floor in the extreme downward position, drop your head forward, expell your breath completely. Now INHALE as you round your back and lift the torso up again. Do not let the hands loose contact with the knees. Lift your head and look up. This is one set do three sets.
Prone Half Lotus
Prone Half Lotus Purpose
This exercise will stretch the muscles of the neck, upper, middle and lower back and shoulder areas which helps to reduce tension. The other benifits are that the hip joints are opened and massaged, it also envigorated the organs in the abdominal region.
Prone Half Lotus Instructions
Lay on the floor. Bend both knees, placing the heel of the foot next to the buttocks. Lift your arms up clasp the hands together and lay the hands palms up behind the neck. Now lift and cross the right leg over the left bent leg. INHALE then EXHALE as you lift both your legs and head up to meet each other. Feel the abdominal muscles contract. Bring the elbow up and in, press the chin against the chest. Hold for a few sec. INHALE as you release this hold. Repeat these movements with the other leg. This is one set. Do two sets.
The Reclining Side Twist
Reclining Side Twist Purpose
This exercise stretches the neck and shoulder muscles and gives an excellent twist to the whole spine, great for menstrual cramps as well.
Reclining Side Twist Instructions
Lie on the floor, on your back, with your knees bent and your heels next to your buttocks. Bring your arms up to shoulder level palms down on the floor. Head faces forward with the chin down slightly. Keep the knees together, if you can. INHALE then EXHALE and allow the legs to gently drop to one side twisting the spine at the waist. Simultaneously turn your head in the opposite direction, while trying to keep both shoulders firmly planted on the floor. Hold for several breaths. Then INHALE and lift the legs up to the original position and return the head to face forward. Repeat on the other side for one set do two sets.
Knee Squeeze Stretch Variation
Knee Squeeze Purpose
Increases circulation in the neck, shoulders and lower back which helps to reduce tension in these areas but it also has the added benifits of reducing body fat and strengthening abdominal muscles, it also relieves gas and heartburn and helps with constipation.
Knee Squeeze Variation Instructions
Lie flat on your back with your arms at your sides. Inhale to a count of three as you raise your right knee to your chest. Wrap your arms around your knee, squeeze your knee to your chest. Exhale to a count of three as you slowly relax, straightening your leg until it rests on the floor. Repeat with your left leg. Repetitions: 3 on each side, alternating sides. Then rest a moment, breathing gently. Try this same exercise but now lift both legs. In this variation it is important to breathe in to a count of three first, then hold your breath in for a count of three while you squeeze. If you try to breathe in and lift at the same time, you will not get a complete lung full of air because you will be tightening your stomach muscles to help you lift your legs. After a week or so of doing the double knee squeeze, you may add the following step. After you squeeze your knees to your chest, lift your forehead as far as possible between your knees, relax and breathe out. Do 3 Repetitions.
The Horizontal Arm Stretch
Horizontal Arm Stretch Purpose
One of the main areas where physical tensions accumulate is in the middle of your shoulders and at the nape of the neck. By contracting and stretching those areas you can release tension throughout the body.
Horizontal Arm Stretch Instructions
Bring the arms up to shoulder level and move them forward in front of the chest. Press the palms together. INHALE. Now EXHALE and lower your head pressing the chin into the nap of the neck. Now INHALE, move your arms apart. Lift the head up, continue to move your arms apart and backward as far as is comfortable and lift your head up, looking up, press the arms back so that you can feel the contraction in the shoulder blades. Hold for a short time and continue this arm movement forward then backward in rhythm with the breath. Do as this only twice.
The Backward Hand Press
Backward Hand Press Purpose
This compresses the muscles in the upper back and shoulder areas and should be followed by shoulder lift.
Backward Hand Press Instructions
Sit with the spine straight. Reach the hands behind the back. First, touch the fingers together, then try to press the palms together. Lift the hands up as high on the back as is comfortable for you. Hold for as long as is you can. Breathe normally. Follow with shoulder lifts exercise.
The face can hold alot of tension, this pose releases facial tension.
Sit erect. Eyes closed, mouth closed, hands clenched. INHALE then EXHALE forcefully through the mouth as you open your eyes as wide as possible simultaneously opening your mouth and sticking your tongue out as far as possible. Stretching the muscles around the face and eyes to there maximum. INHALE and return to the closed eyes and closed mouth position. Completely relax the face , let go of all the muscles in the face. Do this exercise three times.