How yoga can help you deal with stress and anxiety

20 Jun, 2019
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While workplace stress is normal, excessive stress can affect your emotional, physical and mental health. This could lead to reduced productivity, anxiety and depression. Work stress has significant health consequences that range from the relatively benign—more colds and flus—to the more serious, like heart disease and metabolic syndrome. But, because stress at work is so common, finding a low-stress job may be difficult or impossible for many people. A more realistic choice would be to simply adopt more effective strategies to reduce stress.

Signs of excessive work-stress

When you deal with excessive work stress, you lose confidence and self esteem. You may feel angry, irritated or depressed. You may also show signs of withdrawal and isolation. Below mentioned are some other symtoms of excessive work related stress.

  • Fatigue
  • Loss of interest in work
  • insomnia
  • Short concentration span
  • Frequent illness
  • Social withdrawal
  • Loss of sex drive
  • Reduced productivity

Yoga to the rescue: Fight stress and find peace

Yoga is a mind and body practice believed to have originated in India 5000 years ago. Yoga brings together physical and mental disciplines that may help you achieve peacefulness of body and mind. Yoga has many forms of exercises which could help deal with work related stress and anxiety.

Benefits of Yoga at work

A study done by University of Bristol researchers found that employees who exercised before or during work hours were better equipped to handle whatever challenges they had to face that day. It also found that their general mood improved on days they worked out and were less calm on days they did not.

Stress Reduction

Yoga helps to achieve mental and physical balance. This helps improve overall well-being. There are a number of studies that prove that yoga helps to improve mental state this in turn improves mood and productivity.

Improved fitness

Yoga involves a lot of poses combined with breathing exercises and meditation to achieve balance, flexibility, range of motion and strength. Yoga helps improve mind and body health and coordination.

Manage Chronic conditions

yoga can help prevent and cure chronic conditions such as heart diseases and blood pressure problems. Yoga also helps with chronic mental conditions like depression, pain, anxiety and insomnia.

Yoga poses you can do at work by Julia Dellitt

Wrist and Finger Stretch

While sitting, take the fingertips of one hand into the palm of your other hand. Extend that same arm forward, at shoulder-height, and gently pull your fingers down toward the back of your wrist until you feel a slight stretch.

Count to five or 10, then switch hands

Benifits:This will give your wrists some relief from frantic typing, and lower your risk of carpal tunnel syndrome.

Wrist and Finger Stretch 2

Go back to your wrist stretch, but this time, pull each finger individually toward the back of your wrist.

You should feel a slight sensation through your fingers, and keep your arm extended and keep pressing your wrist forward.

Hold for 3-5 breaths, then repeat on the other side.

Seated Tadasana

Reach your arms above your head, stacking wrists over shoulders. Work to straighten your elbows as much as possible, but know it’s okay if there’s a bit of a bend.

You can spread your fingers wide as you think about drawing your thumbs toward the back of your head. Engage your abs as you sit up tall.

Soften your shoulders, stack your head directly over your torso, and lift your chin up and back a tiny bit to help align your spine and find good posture.

Try to stay and breathe for 3-5 slow counts.

Seated Side Stretch

From tadasana, extend your right arm toward the left side of your body, finding as much length as possible from right hip to right armpit.

Palm can face to the left, and gaze can shift up toward your bicep if that feels okay on your neck. Create space between your shoulders and ears. Keep your shoulders in line with each other to avoid leaning forward or back — only sideways.

Take a few breaths.

Then switch sides to lengthen your abdominal muscles while improving spinal flexibility.


Bring your feet about hip-width distance apart, and bend your knees. Sit your hips down and back, as you bring the weight of your body to your heels.

Glance down to make sure you can see the tips of your toes; if not, send your hips back an inch or two to protect your knees.

Activate your inner thighs to engage your core, and tilt your torso forward. Arms can reach up (like tadasana), or come together at heart center by pressing palms together.

Benefits: Hold for 3-5 breaths to strengthen legs, hip flexors and back while stretching your shoulder and chest.

Shoulder Opener

This shoulder stretch variation is easy-to-do at your desk. Move away a few feet, and stand with your feet apart.

Walk your hands forward onto a hard surface, and then imagine your body is forming a right angle.

Keep reaching your hands forward with straight arms until you feel a stretch through your chest, shoulders and upper back.

Don’t worry about your legs — knees can be bent or straight, because this stretch is all about your shoulders.

Hold for 3-5 breaths.

Forward Fold

From shoulder stretch, drop your arms to the floor, along with the top of your head.

Fingertips can graze the ground, but if that feels like too much, they can also rest on your shins or knees.

Gently nod your head “yes” and “no” to really release tension in the back of the neck. Keep your weight even or slightly forward into the balls of your feet.

Enjoy the stretch in your hamstrings.

Forward Fold 2

For another option, reach your hands behind your low back to interlace fingertips in a bind.

Press your palms toward each other (don’t worry, they don’t have to touch!) as you raise your wrists away from your back.

Keep tipping your head in the direction of the floor, and release your neck.

Continue to bring your wrists forward, toward your head, as you create more openness through your shoulders and chest.

Forward fold 3

If you’ve got tight hamstrings, here’s a variation of standing forward fold that may work nicely.

Follow the above instructions, but this time, bend your knees as much as you like!

Dancer Pose

From a standing position, bend your right knee and kick your right heel toward your glutes.

With your right hand, reach back to grab the outside or inside of your right ankle. Stand straight, as if a magnet were lifting your head toward the ceiling, and stack shoulders over hips over ankles.

Press your knee down, and keep the inside of your right knee as close to the inside of your left knee as possible.

Flex through your right foot, toward the back of the room, as you keep sending your knee down with hips straight forward.

You’re looking forward a stretch in the front of your hip flexor and the front of your right hip. (Note: if you feel any pain in your knees, skip this stretch.)

Hold for a few breaths, then repeat with on left side to build flexibility and coordination throughout your lower half

Desk Chaturanga

Similar to a push-up, this version of chaturanga tones your wrists, arms, abs and lower back.

The key is to place your body in a long, straight line from head to toe. Lean your body forward from a standing position, and put your hands on a desk or hard surface about shoulder-width apart.

Softly look a few inches in front of your fingertips, and breathe here until you’re ready to push back into a plank position to exit the pose.

Make sure every inch of your palms is pressing down firmly, and then bend your elbows to ninety degrees, elbows pinned into your sides.

Seated Backbend

From seated, reach your hands a couple inches behind your hips. Push into the chair, and reach your shoulder blades down and back.

Belly is hugged in as chest lifts up and presses forward. Send your gaze up, and if you want, back (but be mindful of your neck!)

For optimal spinal alignment, keep your feet planted evenly on the ground. Stay for 3-5 breaths.

Seated Twist

With both knees facing forward, bring your left hand to your outer right knee. Sit up tall and activate your abs. Right hand can rest at your side or down by your right hip.

On every inhale, sit up a little taller, and on every exhale, move your right shoulder back an inch as left shoulder moves forward.

Pull your left hip back as you twist to the right; you want the twist to stay in your lumbar spine.

Also, don’t twist too far; you’ll know you’ve overdone it if it is challenging to keep a steady breath and a tall spine.

You can look toward the right, and eventually toward your right shoulder. Breathe here for a couple of counts, then repeat on the other side, toward the left.

Benefits: This simple twist promotes good posture, stimulates circulation and aids digestion.

Seated Pigeon

Sitting and tight hips tend to go hand-in-hand, which makes this posture great for unlocking your hip rotators and flexors.

Bring your right knee up to your chest. As you bend through the knee, flex your right foot and start to drop your knee open by rotating your thigh out from your hip joint.

Rest your right ankle on your left thigh, above your left knee. Flex your right foot to protect your knee, and use your right hand to lightly press your right knee down. (Be gentle with your knee here!).

Keep sitting up straight with your left foot flat on the floor. Repeat using your left knee.


You only need to go as far as the place where you feel some sensation in the stretch; there’s no need to overwork and risk injury.

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