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Yoga inversions can reduce stress, depression and neck problems

 

5 Key Yoga Inversions to Erase Stress and Boost Your Mood

 
Slide 2 of 6: <p>Child's Pose is known as a reset in between yoga flows, but it's actually one of the most basic inversions. "With your knees wide and your head to the mat, your head will be below your heart, and you will be able to get the benefits of a calming inversion," Peterson says. You'll not only relieve "<a href="https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/What-Text-Neck-44562383" _fcksavedurl="https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/What-Text-Neck-44562383">text neck</a>" by lengthening the muscles on the back of your neck, but you'll also help stretch your lats and inner thighs.</p><li>Come to all fours with your hands on the mat and your knees shoulder-distance apart. Bring your toes to touch. </li><li>Settle your hips toward your heels and draw your head to the mat, reaching your arms forward with your palms down on the mat. </li>
  • Slide 1 of 6: <p>Like a bad chain reaction, <a href="https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/What-Eat-Stress-Anxiety-40998912" _fcksavedurl="https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/What-Eat-Stress-Anxiety-40998912">stress</a> and anxiety build up from your back to your shoulders and neck. So how can you relieve tension in these tight areas? Sometimes putting your heart above your head is just what you need to feel better. And in yoga, that's exactly what inversions are for. The movement of drawing yourself in can provide some mood-boosting benefits. A recent study from the <strong>Psychology, Health & Medicine</strong> journal shows that <a href="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29308657" _fcksavedurl="http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29308657">yoga postures can help reduce depressive symptoms</a> and psychological distress. Heather Peterson, chief yoga officer at <a href="http://www.corepoweryoga.com/" _fcksavedurl="http://www.corepoweryoga.com/">CorePower Yoga</a> says, "[Inversions] draw your attention inward and ground you literally to your mat. It calms the mind and centers you for your yoga practice or anytime during the day." From <a href="https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Different-Ways-Do-Downward-Dog-30949205" _fcksavedurl="https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/Different-Ways-Do-Downward-Dog-30949205">Downward Dog</a> to Crow Pose, these beginner yoga inversions will help lengthen and improve circulation. </p><p><strong>Directions:</strong> Move through each pose, aiming to hold them for three to five breaths.</p>42444189
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  • Slide 3 of 6: <p>When we're stressed, tightness can also surface along your serratus anterior, the serrated-shaped muscles below your shoulder blades. Downward Dog can help increase blood flow to this area, Peterson says. It can also lengthen your hamstrings and glutes and fire up your entire core.</p><li>From Child's Pose, come to all fours and spread your fingers wide. Bring the center of your wrists to the outside edge of your shoulders to create a stable base. </li><li>Walk your feet back to high plank position with your feet hip-distance apart and your hips in line with your heels. </li><li>Isometrically draw your hands toward your toes, and your toes toward your hands to activate your transverse abdominis. </li><li>Inhale, and on your exhale, press your hips to the sky. Bend your knees slightly and draw your inner thighs to the wall behind you as you raise your tailbone higher. </li><li>Slowly press your heels toward the mat and lengthen your ears away from the tops of your shoulders.</li><li>Align your head and neck with your spine and draw your gaze back toward the space between your feet. </li>
  • Slide 4 of 6: <p>A great way to practice balance with your arms, Crow Pose will help strengthen your shoulders and core, as well as open up your upper back. "This posture often leaves one with a sense of empowerment to be balancing on your hands. Arm balances and inversions change your perspective and mindset," Peterson says. </p><li>From Downward Dog, step forward with your knees bent into a squat. Keep your hands shoulder-distance apart on the mat and your fingers wide. </li><li>Bend your elbows behind you to make a shelf with your upper arms, then bring your knees onto your upper arms. </li><li>Stagger your weight forward into your hands and look forward as you take one foot off the ground. Then, place it back down and repeat with the other foot. </li><li>Next, put all of your weight into your hands and lift both feet off the mat. Bring your big toes and inner heels to touch. </li><li>Isometrically draw your thighs in, push your hands into the floor, and activate your core to help you stabilize.</li>
  • Slide 5 of 6: <p>As the ultimate inversion, a Forearm Headstand can help you learn how to use your breath, which is essential for reducing stress. While complete inversions can trigger fears of falling or being out of control, Peterson says it allows you to face them head on. "Feel free to use a wall to support you at first, then move further and further away as you breathe slow ujjayi breaths in the face of your fear and doubts," she says.</p><li>From all fours, plant your elbows and forearms firmly on the mat, then interlace your fingers except for your pinkies. Stack them one in front of the other for stability. </li><li>Straighten your legs into a Downward Dog position, and press your elbows into the mat to reduce the pressure on your head and neck. </li><li>Tuck your knees into your chest and move your pelvis over your shoulders. Then, press your feet up to the sky as you extend your hips and knees.</li><li>This tucking approach allows you to balance weight on your head, instead of using momentum from kicking your feet up. </li><li>Push your forearms into the ground as you take your shoulders away from your ears. </li><li>Press the back of your head into your hands to activate your upper back, and draw your front ribs in and your hip points together and toward your ribs. </li><li>Pull your inner thighs together, and press through your feet. </li>
  • Slide 6 of 6: <p>This advanced version of the Forearm Headstand allows you to practice to the same arm balancing skills you did in Crow. You can use a wall to help you get into the full range of the pose, then move away from it as you bring your pelvis over your hips and raise your bottom leg to meet your top one. "Remember to breathe slow ujjayi breaths in the face of your fear and doubts. Courage and present moment awareness are incredible skills to gain from inversions," Peterson says. </p><li>From Downward Dog, shorten your stance by walking your feet as close as you can. Your shoulders should be directly over your wrists. </li><li>Raise one leg up toward the sky and squeeze the glute of your standing leg to help you level your hips to the mat. </li><li>Lift your standing leg heel up and down slowly for three breaths. Then, lift your elevated leg up a couple inches higher and lower for three breaths. </li><li>Swing your standing leg up as you move your pelvis over your shoulders. The goal is to move slowly up and down before you can find hang time with your pelvis over your hips and your lower leg meets your top one. Engage your core as you do this.</li><li>Draw your front ribs in as you push the floor away and attempt to press your feet into the ceiling.</li>
 
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