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3 Simple Stretches to Help You Fight Stress

These simple yoga poses will help keep you flexible, centered and strong as you shelter at home.

Yoga stretch child's pose

I saw someone quip on social media that staying at home to protect ourselves and our neighbors from coronavirus means staying on our cozy couches watching TV—not exactly as challenging a sacrifice as our ancestors had to make in times of crisis. 

Of course, this situation is not as simple as that, either. And among the many reasons why our couches and streaming movie queues aren’t adequate is this: our bodies won’t thank us for spending our days in a sedentary position.

We need to stretch, to lengthen and strengthen our muscles and to build support for our bodies. And even a few minutes doing some simple yoga stretches each day can be a helpful part of your healthy routine. 

As the coauthor of a new book, The Yoga Effect: A Proven Program for Depression and Anxiety, I can tell you that research supports what yoga practitioners already know—yoga is a trustworthy tool to support emotional health and wellbeing. When you need to wake up your body, stretching can help reconnect you with your inner strength. When you need to calm down, focusing on your movements can remind you that even in times of stress, you can access a place of peace within.

Try these three simple stretches to open your body, center your mind and bring some strength and flexibility into days that ask us to demonstrate both.

The Standing Foward Bend
    Photos by Tracy Rodriguez

Standing Forward Bend

Stand up strong and tall, with your feet parallel to each other. Breathe in as you raise your arms up toward the ceiling, then as you exhale, hinge your body at your hips and fold forward until you are touching the floor, your toes or your shins. You can rest your hands on blocks or even a stack of books if you can’t reach the floor and want to be able to ground fully into your forward bend. Let your spine lengthen and your spinal muscles release for a few moments before you inhale and come back to standing, either lifting strongly up with straight legs or bending your knees and rolling your spine back to an upright position.

The BridgeBridge

Lie on your back with your knees bent and your feet flat on the floor. As you inhale, engage your core muscles and slowly lift your lower back and buttocks off the floor. You don’t need to lift very far to get a gentle backbend that brings length and strength into your lower back. As you exhale, come back down to the ground. Repeat a few times, breathing slowly as you do.

Child’s Pose

Child's PoseWhen you come into this resting pose, you’ll immediately understand where it gets its name. It’s a comforting, peaceful pose that brings to mind a calm and sleepy child. Start on your hands and knees on the floor. Shift your hips back so your buttocks are resting on your heels (you can lay a blanket over your heels if you don’t reach). Drape your body over your knees and rest your forehead on the floor. You might enjoy the feeling of stretching your arms out in front of your body, or you might prefer to rest your arms at your sides by your legs. Whichever position you choose, breathe deeply and slowly and let yourself become calm, feel your back gently stretch over your legs, and relax.

What stretches do you turn to during a day at home?

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