Yoga can be an especially powerful practice for anyone dealing with anxiety and depression—and I find that turning to yoga before busy or stressful days goes a long way toward feeling more balanced and centered.
Plus, mind-body therapies like yoga have been shown to reduce inflammation and boost the immune system, according to research published in Plos One.
It starts out with some warm-up poses, moves through a vinyasa sequence that you’ll repeat on each side, and then winds down.
Time: 15 minutes
Equipment needed: mat
Instructions: Flow from pose to pose listed below, holding and breathing as noted. After completing poses five through 12 on the right side, repeat on the left before moving on. Make this practice about moving intuitively. If you want to feel serene throughout the day, keep your movement slow and gentle. If you want to feel energized, build up to a quicker, more heated pace as you progress. The beauty of yoga is that it can be whatever you need it to be!
Exhale and push into hands and knees to hollow belly, round spine, and tuck chin towards chest. (This is cat pose.) Repeat for five slow breaths, or about one minute.
How to: Start in a plank position. Lift hips up and back, sinking heels toward floor, until body forms an upside down “V” shape. Press shoulders away from ears and relax neck. Spread fingers wide on mat, with palms pressed against the floor. Hold for five slow breaths.
Feel the pose: Breathe loudly through your nose to tune into yourself and deepen the posture.
Side Bends Yoga
Perforn three rounds on each side.
Feel the pose: As you create space and length in the sides of the body, feel your ribs separating away from your waist.
Hold for five breaths.
Feel the pose: Challenge yourself and build heat in the body by staying here a little longer than you want to. Find ease in the neck as you breathe deep and feel energy extending out from your fingertips.
Interlaced Forward Fold
This pose begins your vinyasa sequence. Flow from this pose through pose number 12 (lizard pose) on the right side, then repeat on the left side.
Feel the pose: Allow your head and neck to hang heavy and feel your spine decompress.
Low Lunge Twist
Hold for a three breaths.
Feel the pose: Twist from your belly and upper back while keeping your legs and core strong. Engage your back leg and lift up out of hand on the floor.
Warrior II Yoga
Hold for three to five breaths.
Feel the pose: Stretch through front and back fingertips equally and keep shoulders over hips.
Wide Forward Fold
Hold for three to five breaths, then return to standing.
Feel the pose: This pose invites us to literally face inward. Let it draw you into a space of calm introspection as it energizes the body and increases blood flow to the brain.
Hold for five breaths, then reverse the movement to return to plank position.
Feel the pose: Lift hips high and raise gaze to look at top hand.
How to: Start in a low lunge with right foot outside right hand and left leg extended straight back. Keep spine long and core engaged, then slowly lower onto forearms. Hold for five to eight deep breaths, allowing hips to relax and open with each exhale. Push up through hands to return to low lunge and into plank.
Feel the pose: To modify, lower back knee to the ground.
Low Plank Yoga
How to: Start in a high plank position. Keep elbows in close to sides, bend arms, and lower entire body as one unit on an exhale, stopping when biceps are parallel to mat. As you start to inhale, immediately flow to the next pose.
Hold for one breath. Then, return to pose number five (interlaced forward fold) and repeat this sequence on the left side.
Repeat for five to eight breaths.
Feel the pose: Reach fingertips back to open up chest and heart.
Hold for three to five breaths, then repeat three times.
Feel the pose: Think about stretching knees over toes and energetically pulling heels toward glutes to create length in body at top of bridge.
Hold for five to eight breaths.
Feel the pose: Enjoy this juicy position as you start to slow down your heart rate and draw your practice to a close.
How to: Start lying on back with knees bent, feet flat on the floor, left hand on heart, and right hand on stomach. Extend legs and arms to straight on floor. Relax for one to two minutes.
Feel the pose: Let the body and mind restore after your hard work!