6 Exercises to relieve tension

1 Tadasana


Remove your socks and shoes if possible. Allow the feet to spread out on the floor or your mat, positioning them directly under your hip joints. Bring awareness into the soles of the feet and feel your weight sinking down evenly through the whole surface of the sole. If you feel unbalanced, bring awareness to each side of your foot in turn – leaning forwards, backwards and side to side. Come to stillness – an evenness of weight now descending through the soles of your feet. Feel the pelvis as a level bowl and the spine ascending as you take a deep inhalation bringing the awareness up to the crown of your head. As you slowly exhale feel the skin on your face soften, the shoulders relax down, the elbows bend slightly and the fingers gently curl. A soft but strong mountain.

2 Neck Exercises

After a few breaths in Tadasana, gently begin to scribe a small circle with the nose  – no bigger than a tangerine. About 6 – 10 one way and they the same amount in the other direction. Come once again to stillness – feel the balance and symmetry of your posture for a few smooth, quiet breaths.

When you feel ready, on exhale take the right ear gently towards the right shoulder and press the left palm down towards the ground.  Stay in this position, breathing smoothly and quietly for about 5 breaths.  When ready, inhale and come back to Tadasana. Take a few breaths in the centre and then practice to the other side.

3 Shoulder Rolls

On inhale gently begin to roll the right shoulder up and then backwards, as you take it down exhale and bring it forwards to complete the circle. If there are any areas of tightness or sore spots, work smaller and gentler until it feels free and comfortable.  Work about 10 repetitions.  Rest in stillness for a moment or two and then work on the left side. This exercise can be repeated either working separate shoulders again or working them both together.

Now repeat your previous shoulder sequence, but this time take the shoulder in a forwards rotation.

4 Gentle Bridge


Come to lie on the back of the body, have the knees bent, feet flat on the floor and arms by the sides. Check that your spine is in a straight line. Focus your awareness at your abdomen, watch the breath, inhaling feel the abdomen move upwards and exhaling watch the abdomen move down.  This is abdominal breathing – a soothing and calming practice.

When you feel ready, allow the inhale to gently lift the buttocks and lower back off the floor, pressing down through the soles.  As you exhale lower back down.  Work gently, smoothly and slowly with the emphasis on bending the spine evenly – feeling each vertebrae lift off the floor and then placing each vertebrae back down.  Don’t push up any further than feels comfortable and keep the movement smooth and linked to the breath at all times.  Work about 5 – 8 repetitions then rest.

When you are ready hug the knees to the chest for 5 breaths.  Rest the feet back down and go back to abdominal breathing for a few moments.

5 Supine Twist

semi supine twist

Remaining in the bent knee position, bring the knees and feet close together.  Take the arms out to the sides to form a T shape.  As you exhale allow the knees to gently come down to the right side and rest in this twisted position for about 5 breaths.  You can intensify the stretch by twisting the neck to the left if that feels comfortable.  Return the knees and head to centre on an inhale and then exhale and practice on the opposite side.

You can repeat this set if it eased your tension.  Twists are both relaxing and rejuvenating to the spine.

Rest and go back to abdominal breathing when you are finished twisting.  5 minutes of abdominal breathing would be good if you have the time.  When you need to get up, roll onto your left side and pause for a few breaths before pushing up with the right hand to a seated position.  Hopefully rested, tension free and ready to get on with your day!


Published by yogadeb

Yoga teacher in Stamford, UK, and online

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