7 Stress-Reducing Yoga Moves Every Sydneysider Needs to Know
After recently spending a few days in the countryside, then returning home to the hustle and bustle of Sydney, I was reminded of just how hectic my beloved city can be. Though I know the constant stress of living a fast-paced lifestyle is depleting to my mind and body, a trip away from the big smoke made it glaringly clear the level at which it affects me on the daily. Stepping off the Rex plane, I could immediately feel my breath get shallow, and my shoulders scrunch up around my ears—both signs I was feeling anxious. Nothing "stressful" had happened, but the change in environment (bye, clean air) had signaled to my body that it was time to prepare for stress.
This may sound a tad OTT, and I'll be the first to admit that I am more anxious than most—a two hour plane ride on what I equate to a tin can with wings didn't help—but the idea that our environment directly affects our state of mind isn't a new one. Studies have indicated that poor air quality, a lack of greenery, and less-than-nutritious food all play a part in making us feel unwell. After realising that my city-dwelling lifestyle was inducing low-level (but constant) anxiety, I went looking for a solution. The answer seemed obvious enough—change my environment and good health will surely follow. Only I happen to love my city apartment, despite the fact it's located on a busy, main road.
So I turned to yoga for help. For me, it's a foolproof way of bringing myself back to a calm and centred place. A place from which I can tackle everything from a full work schedule to an overload of social appointments. The power of a regular practice can be life-changing but you don't have to be a bonafide yogi to reap the benefits. A committed weekend warrior myself, I selected certain poses to address what's ailing me through the week, simply because it's do-able no matter how busy I am. What follows is an edit of the go-to poses I now rely on to soothe a busy mind and relax my nervous system.
Don't know your crescent lunge from your crow? You don't need anything more than a mat (shop my current favourite here) and a WIFI connection.
Keep scrolling for the stress-reducing yoga moves every Sydneysider needs to know.
If you don't find child's pose calming...you're probably doing it wrong. This pose may look underwhelming but it's actually an effective stretch for the lower back, and can help with shoulder and neck stiffness. Plus, resting your forehead on the mat can be incredibly grounding.
Cat Cow Pose
Another great stretch for the lower back, cat cow gently massages the spine and organs as well as encouraging you to focus on your breath. (Deep breathing = stress relief.)
Standing Wide Legged Forward Fold
Thought to assist with everything from headache to mild depression, this pose stretches your leg muscles (which can often be tight from wearing heels) and calms the mind.
Legs Up the Wall
Thought to have anti-ageing benefits, legs up the wall is considered a deeply restorative pose. It is believed to help drain blood and lymph fluids back towards your heart, which can assist with circulation.
Puppy Dog Pose
A variation of child's pose, puppy dog has all the same benefits, plus a heart-opening element due to the mild inversion element. A perfect antidote to scrunched up shoulders, it helps reverse stress-induced slouchiness.
Head-To-Knee Forward Bend
A multi-benefit move, you can rely on this pose to remedy everything from fatigue and anxiety to period pain and sluggish digestion. You'll also get a strong stretch along your shoulders, spine, hamstrings and groin.
Said to be the most difficult pose to master, shavasana is all about deep rest—the kind impossible to achieve if you're mentally running through your grocery list or to-dos.