Easy Yoga Moves for a Stress-Free Quarter
With midterms passing and finals on the horizon, winter quarter can seem like an unending cycle of stress and dreariness. Each day, you try to mentally refresh and press on with the help of coffee (or a shameful number of Red Bulls). However, at the root of all this academic chaos, your body is the real victim calling for help. While we can’t help but live busy lives as UChicago students, continual stress over time causes real physical problems like headaches, muscle tensions, and stomach issues. One simple way to relieve and avoid these complications is by incorporating a few simple yoga stretches into your day. Start off your day or take a study break to practice some of these poses, and become physically relieved of all your winter quarter worries!
#1 Child’s Pose
If you’re not a morning person or prone to avoid physical activity in general, starting with Child’s pose is the best way to ease into your routine. To enter Child’s pose, sit on your knees and make sure your big toes are adjacent. Then reach forward until your buttocks is touching your heels. Lengthen your body as much as possible and take a few deep breaths. This pose along with deep breathing releases tension in your hips and relaxes your whole body.
#2 Alternate between Cow Pose and Cat Pose
Enter Cow Pose by getting on all fours and arching your back down towards the floor and make sure your chin is pointed up towards the wall. Reversing the position of your arch and rounding your back towards the ceiling will get you into Cat pose. Repeat these positions rhythmically and with inhales and exhales. These movements will stretch out your back, neck, and make your body feel more limber.
#3 Extended Side Angle Pose
Pick up the pace of your routine with the extended side angle pose. This pose stretches the hips, shoulders, and leg muscles. Start, standing parallel and then reach one arm out to the side over you head. Using your hand as a marker, step out that distance with your opposite foot and bend at the knee until your thigh is parallel with the ground. Put your hand on the side of the bent leg on the ground. Make sure your foot is parallel and the foot that corresponds with your arm is turned inward. Lengthen limbs accordingly and keep your torso facing open instead of towards your leg. Point your chin towards the ceiling.
#4 Cross-Legged Lower Back Stretch
This pose relieves stress from your lower back and is good for your shoulders as well. If you’re near a wall, sit a few inches back in a cross-legged position. Reach out keep your shoulders separated and walk your fingers up the wall. After a few breaths, see if you can walk your fingers further up the wall to create a more intense stretch.
#5 Savasana or Corpse Pose
Now that you’ve twisted and contorted your body, end your routine in a familiar, but more importantly, relaxing pose. While it may look easy, the right alignment and breathing in this pose will do wonders for your body. Lay flat on the ground and keeping everything neutral and free of tension. Let your limbs fall to the side, and feel lengthened from your fingertips to your toes. This pose will alleviate stress throughout your entire nervous system.