Pose: Pranayama BreathingSit with your legs crossed comfortably and your hands resting on your knees, your palms facing up. Then, close your...
Pose: Pranayama Breathing
Sit with your legs crossed comfortably and your hands resting on your knees, your palms facing up. Then, close your eyes and inhale slowly for 6 counts, allowing your belly to expand. Pause for 2 counts before you exhale, then take another 6 counts to breathe out, drawing your belly back to your spine; pause for 2 counts, then slowly inhale again. Repeat this breathing sequence for 10 minutes.
How It Helps: Any kind of exercise can fight frazzle, but the slow, deep breathing of yoga (spotlighted in this move) has been shown to be particularly effective at shutting off your nervous system’s fight-or-flight state and putting it back into rest-and-relax mode. One German-led study found that women who began practicing yoga reported significant improvements in anxiety, stress and wellbeing, compared to non-yogis --and that their levels of the stress hormone cortisol actually dropped as well.
Pose: Cow/CatBegin on all fours, your palms directly under your shoulders, knees under your hips. Then, inhale and let your belly sink toward...
Begin on all fours, your palms directly under your shoulders, knees under your hips. Then, inhale and let your belly sink toward the floor as you lift your chest and tailbone up (Cow pose). Then, pause and exhale and reverse the position, arching your back up in the air like a cat stretching (think about tucking your tailbone and rounding through your chest and shoulders); pause. Do 20 times each way.
How It Helps: This pairing of exercises, says Ingber, has long been recommended as a way to ease abdominal cramping. “There’s just something about the way you tense and then stretch these belly muscles here that helps ultimately unknot you.”
Pose: Reclining CobblerSit and place the soles of your feet together, your knees should be out wide to your sides. (If you need extra support,...
Pose: Reclining Cobbler
Sit and place the soles of your feet together, your knees should be out wide to your sides. (If you need extra support, you can place a pillow under each knee.) Then, recline so your back is flat on the floor. Place your hands on your belly and take 20 long, slow deep breaths in and out.
How It Helps: “Usually when you have a headache it’s due to too much energy in the head -- too much noise or thinking. So it’s important to get grounded. You literally reconnect with the earth by lying down and it calms your mind,” says Ingber. Think about it: What do you instinctively want to do when you’ve got a real pounder? Lie down, right? This pose also helps relieve tension (a prime cause of headaches) in your face, neck, back and hips. Ingber also suggests touching the tip of your tongue to the roof of your mouth during the pose, which yogis believe helps draw all that pent-up energy down from your head.
Pose: Standing Forward BendStand with your feet slightly more than hip-width apart, your knees bent. Hinge at your hips (not waist) and fold...
Pose: Standing Forward Bend
Stand with your feet slightly more than hip-width apart, your knees bent. Hinge at your hips (not waist) and fold your torso forward; cross your arms, placing hands just above opposite elbows, as shown, and allow your body to dangle here for 20 full breaths in and out.
How It Helps: “This position helps to stimulate and rejuvenate the kidneys, liver and adrenal glands -- all of which get taxed when you drink,” says Ingber.
Pose: Legs Up the WallSit facing a wall. Then, place your feet on it wiggling your body forward until your butt is up against it. Extend your...
Pose: Legs Up the Wall
Sit facing a wall. Then, place your feet on it wiggling your body forward until your butt is up against it. Extend your legs up the wall so your body is in an L shape, as shown. Relax in this position, taking slow, deep breaths, for at least 5 minutes before getting into bed.
How It Helps: “This is a modified inversion, which allows your nervous system to relax and helps you to prepare for sleep,” says Ingber. You can even try it with your legs up on your headboard -- and then roll over and slip directly under the covers.
Pose: Sphinx to Child’s PoseLie on your stomach with your legs extended and prop yourself up on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly...
Pose: Sphinx to Child’s Pose
Lie on your stomach with your legs extended and prop yourself up on your forearms. Your elbows should be directly under your shoulders. Pull your belly in tight, contract your thighs and push into your forearms as you lift your chest upward. Hold this pose for 30 seconds, then lower yourself to the starting position -- do this 3 times. After the last repetition, slide your hips back to your heels and extend your arms out in the Child’s Pose, as shown; hold here for 2 minutes.
How It Helps: The Sphinx Pose aligns the spine to fend off future twinges while the Child’s Pose is an excellent soothing stretch for the low back -- where a lot of women experience pain, says Ingber. In fact, a recent British study found that yoga was a better treatment for low back pain than other types of exercise and even traditional treatments.
Pose: Wind Removing PoseLying on your back, bring your knees into your chest and wrap your arms over your shins so your body is in a little ball...
Pose: Wind Removing Pose
Lying on your back, bring your knees into your chest and wrap your arms over your shins so your body is in a little ball, as shown. (Make sure to keep your low back pressed into the floor.) Hold this position for 20 slow, deep inhales and exhales.
How It Helps: “The gentle pressure that this pose puts on your belly can regulate your GI tract and allow for excess aggravating gas to pass,” says Ingber.
Pose: Spine TwistLie on your back with your arms out to the sides at shoulder height and your legs extended. Then, bend and lift your right knee...
Pose: Spine Twist
Lie on your back with your arms out to the sides at shoulder height and your legs extended. Then, bend and lift your right knee toward your chest, keeping your left leg on the floor and turn your head to the side so you’re gazing over your right shoulder. After this, slowly lower your right knee across your body to the left (you can place your left hand on it for a deeper stretch or to help hold it in position). Hold for several breaths, relaxing knee toward the floor as far as possible. Switch sides and repeat.
How It Helps: According to Ingber: “Twists work the abdominals, which are believed to aid in digestion and help with elimination.”
Pose: BridgeLie on your back with your feet hip-width apart, your heels close to your butt (you should be able to graze them with your...
Lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart, your heels close to your butt (you should be able to graze them with your fingertips) and your arms on the floor by your sides, palms down. Press into your feet and lift your hips up in the air, peeling up slowly vertebrae by vertebrae; hold at the top for 5 breaths, then slowly roll down, imprinting your spine bone by bone onto the mat, until you’re back to the starting position. Do this move 3 times.
How It Helps: Numerous studies have linked yoga with improved mood. What makes this pose particularly effective, according to Ingber: Back bends are considered energizing poses, that spur the production of feel good endorphins -- eliminating sadness.
Pose: Downward Facing DogBegin in the Child’s Pose with your arms extended out in front of you. Then, press your palms evenly into the floor,...
Pose: Downward Facing Dog
Begin in the Child’s Pose with your arms extended out in front of you. Then, press your palms evenly into the floor, curl your toes under and lift your hips up and back, so your body forms an inverted V shape. (Note: Your feet should be a little more than hip-width apart.) Hold this pose for 5 slow, deep inhales and exhales, then lower down to your hands and knees (or Child’s Pose). Do at least one more repetition.
How It Helps: Being slightly upside down, says Ingber, alleviates some of that painful sinus pressure and promotes drainage of anything that’s stuffing you up.