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Yoga During Lockdown: 15 Yoga Poses To Combat Stress And Anxiety

As the whole nation went under a 21-day lockdown, Prime Minister Narendra Modi shared a yoga asana which he practices and encourages people to do the same to stay fit and stress-free during the lockdown.

PM Modi took to Twitter and revealed that he practices Yoga Nidra, a yoga asana that relieves stress. His post read, "Whenever I get time, I practice Yoga Nidra once or twice a week. It furthers overall well-being, relaxes the mind, reduces stress and anxiety".

A nationwide 21-day lockdown was enforced to prevent the spread of coronavirus and maintain social distancing to prevent people from infecting others. During a lockdown, it is obvious to feel stressed out, fearful and anxious.

So, in order to ward off your fear, anxiety and stress away, practice these yoga poses.

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1. Yoga nidra

Yoga nidra, also known as yogic sleep is a powerful meditation technique that controls the body's relaxation response. It eases stress, provides relief from depression and anxiety, relaxes the mind, and releases tension from the body and mind.

How to do:

  • Lie down on the mat and with a bolster supporting your lower back to the head
  • Close your eyes and relax
  • Take deep breaths and notice the sounds and smells around you
  • You can then shift focus and pay attention to your entire body and think positive things
  • Do this for 10 minutes and slowly open your eyes.

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2. Easy pose (Sukhasana)

This yoga asana has relaxing effects on the mind and body and it builds physical and mental balance and lowers stress and anxiety [1].

How to do:

  • Sit on the floor and fold your legs
  • Move the knees closer together until your feet are underneath them
  • Keep your spine erect
  • You can either place your palms on your lap or you can lay them on your knees with palms up or palms down
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3. Rabbit pose (Sasangasana)

Rabbit pose calms the mind, relieves tension around the neck and relieves stress by bringing fresh blood supply to the crown of the head.

How to do:

  • Kneel down and exhale while grabbing your heels with the back of the hands facing out
  • Put your head on the ground towards your knees in such a way that the forehead touches the knees
  • Lift your hips and inhale while pulling your heels with a firm grip of your hands and exhale
  • Stay in this position and do at least 5 breaths.
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4. Seated side bend pose

Seated side bend yoga asana brings balance to your entire body. It releases tension from the neck, head and shoulders.

How to do:

  • Kneel down with your both legs joined together.
  • Keep one hand on the floor away from your body and take the other hand and raise it over your head.
  • By balancing your one hand on the floor, stretch your body and hand on your left side.
  • Repeat on the other side.

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5. Plow pose (Halasana)

Plow pose calms the mind, reduces stress, fatigue, backache, headache and stretches the shoulder and spine [2].

How to do:

  • Lie down and relax your body.
  • Hold your legs with both hands, with one hand on each leg.
  • Swing both your legs back over your head and rest your toes on the floor.
  • Stay in this position and take 10 breaths.
  • Slowly roll out your legs to the ground.
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6. Corpse pose (Savasana)

Corpse pose relaxes the whole body by relieving stress, tension and depression, cures insomnia, improves blood circulation and calms the mind [3].

How to do:

  • Lie down with your legs straight and heels slightly apart.
  • Keep your arms alongside your body with your palms facing up.
  • Close your eyes and stay in this pose for 5-10 minutes.
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7. Standing forward bend (Uttanasana)

If you are experiencing stress and anxiety, try doing the standing forward bend yoga asana. It calms the brain, relieves stress and anxiety and works great for mild depression [4].

How to do:

  • Stand straight with hands on your hips.
  • Exhale and bend forward from the hip joints and not from the waist.
  • Slowly place your palms or fingertips on your feet or at the back of your ankles.
  • Turn your thighs slightly inward and keep your feet firm on the ground.
  • With each inhalation, lift and strengthen the front torso and with each exhalation go into a forward bend.
  • Between each pose stay for 30 seconds to 1 minute.

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8. Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)

This pose allows your body to energise and rejuvenate. It stretches the chest, back, shoulders and spine, rejuvenates tired legs and calms the mind by relieving stress and mild depression.

How to do:

  • Lie down on the floor and place a pillow under your shoulders to protect your neck.
  • Inhale and bend your knees and place your feet on the floor.
  • Exhale and press your inner feet and arms on the floor.
  • Push your tailbone upwards and lift your buttocks off the floor.
  • Lift your chin up and stay in this position for 30 seconds or 1 minute.
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9. Camel pose (Ustrasana)

This pose boosts mood and energy, strengthens the back, and opens the chest, shoulders and quadriceps.

How to do:

  • Kneel on the floor with your knees and thighs perpendicular on the floor.
  • Slowly bend backwards with your hands touching at the back of your ankles.
  • Inhale and exhale and stay in this position for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
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10. Cat pose (Marjariasana)

This yoga asana strengthens the spine, relieves physical and mental exhaustion, wards off anxiety and promotes a calm mind.

How to do:

  • Sit in a table-top position by bending your knees on the floor and place both your hands on the floor and look straight.
  • As you exhale, round your spine towards the ceiling and keep your head towards the floor.
  • Inhale, and come back to table-top position.
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11. Fish pose (Matsyasana)

Fish pose stretches the chest, abdomen, throat, upper back muscles and the back of the neck. Practicing fish pose daily will rejuvenate the body and reduce fatigue and anxiety.

How to do:

  • Lie on your back on the floor with your knee bent and feet firm on the floor.
  • While you inhale, tilt your head backwards and lift your pelvis slightly off the floor and keep your hands below your buttocks.
  • Inhale and exhale and stay in this position for 15 to 30 seconds.
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12. Cow pose (Bitilasana)

Cow pose stretches the hips, back, core muscles and lower spine, increases flexibility in the muscles, relieves menstrual pain, and stimulates abdominal organs in the body.

How to do:

  • Sit on your knees and hands in a table-top position.
  • Lift your head and tailbone gently curving backwards.
  • Look upwards with a relaxed neck and inhale and exhale.

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13. Kapalabhati

Kapalabhati, also called breath of fire helps in cleansing the lungs, sinuses and respiratory system, which can help prevent illness. Furthermore, it calms your mind, helps with mood swings and relieves anxiety.

How to do:

  • Sit in a meditative posture and close your eyes.
  • Inhale deeply, expand the chest.
  • Exhale deeply while you feel the contractions of the abdominal muscles and slowly relax.
  • Do not strain and continue forceful inhalation and exhalation.
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14. Tree pose (Vriksasana)

Tree pose is an excellent yoga pose for alleviating stress and anxiety because it requires grounding and concentration. Practicing tree pose daily will distract your mind from negative thoughts.

How to do:

  • Stand straight and turn your right leg out to about 45 degrees.
  • Bend it and lift your foot up on the standing leg.
  • Press your palms together in front of your chest.
  • Hold this position for 5 breaths
  • Repeat on the other side
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15. Child’s pose (Balasana)

Child's pose is a relaxation technique that helps ease anxiety symptoms and releases tension in the back, neck and shoulders.

How to do:

  • Sit on your knees folded on the floor.
  • Relax your shoulders and strengthen your spine.
  • Exhale and bow forward, your torso should be between your thighs.
  • Extend your arms forward with palms facing down.
  • Hold this position for 5 breaths