Stress is an inevitable part of life, and as much as you'd love to release that tension by enrolling in a regular workout class, or going to a yoga studio on a weekly basis, the reality is, you're simply too strapped for time most days. But listen, you don't have to do an hour of gentle yoga or take a full-on cycling class to feel the calming effects of mindful movement. In fact, if you let yourself take five to do what some trusty yoga teachers call the best yoga pose for stress, you might find that that's really all you need to help you unwind at the end of a long day.
According to Vanessa Dunleavy, a vinyasa and buti yoga teacher, the yoga poses that help relieve stress can differ from person to person, depending on the type of stress that's got your mind feeling all mixed up. However, she tells Elite Daily that, no matter what the occasion, a restorative fish pose is particularly awesome if you only have time for one asana in your practice.
Dunleavy says fish pose is an especially potent stress-reliever for people who work at a computer or are on their feet all day long.
"It opens the heart and it helps to negate the shrugged shoulders that come from sitting over a keyboard, waiting tables, or working a cash register, for example," Dunleavy tells Elite Daily.
Before you get started with the pose, Dunleavy recommends using blocks to help support your body. But don't worry if you don't actually have any yoga blocks; you can always drape a towel over a few hardcover books, or use a firm pillow — whatever feels best for you!
Now, to get into the pose, Dunleavy explains, lay down with your arms open, and place your block lengthwise underneath your shoulder blades, at whatever height feels best for you. If you need something to support your head, she recommends using another block, pillow, or blanket.
"It's OK if your chest is super tight, too; just go with what feels right," she tells Elite Daily. "Then, just gently breathe. Consider letting go into the floor and into your block."
The key, Dunleavy explains, is to find that deep, slow release through the breath. That's how your stress will find its way out of your body, she says.
If you really want to cap off your one-pose, stress-relieving practice in the best way possible, Dunleavy recommends adding a few minutes of seated meditation at the end.
"A mindfulness practice is really where you're going to get rid of stress," she tells Elite Daily. She adds that it never hurts to do a little savasana, or corpse pose, either. No blocks required for that all-time favorite asana.
Yoga teacher Veronica Parker definitely agrees with Dunleavy on how powerful a stress-reliever the fish pose can be.
"It can help you stretch the ribs, abdomen, and throat area," Parker tells Elite Daily. "It empowers you to open up your heart chakra while elongating and strengthening the spine."
Parker adds that, on a physiological level, as you stretch your spine, you release more cerebrospinal fluid to the brain, which she says increases balance and mental clarity to help reduce stress.
"Since your neck is also fully supported in this version, you can release much of the tension and stress that are usually held in the neck and shoulders," Parker explains. "Overall, fish pose can help you feel like a fish in water: light, flowing, and completely relaxed!"
Take a little time this afternoon to let go, and get with the fishy flow, my friends.