Upward Facing Dog Pose
Stígur Már Karlsson /Heimsmyndir/istockphoto

Feeling Anxious About COVID-19? Try This Calming Yoga Sequence

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Upward Facing Dog Pose
Stígur Már Karlsson /Heimsmyndir/istockphoto

Anxious About COVID-19? Try Yoga

Whether a loved one is ill, money is tight, you're worried about the future, or you're simply stressed from being cooped up inside for weeks on end, the coronavirus pandemic is taking a toll on all of us. When life becomes overwhelming, yoga practice can be a free alternative to the pricey services of a professional therapist. An intentional yoga sequence, practiced consistently, can help relieve anxiety and restore a sense of inner peace. Yoga is excellent exercise, too, even for seniors. Seek a quiet, private place for this 20-minute sequence of movements followed by five minutes of still, deep breathing.

Related: How to Practice Self-Care While Stuck at Home

Corpse Pose
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Corpse Pose

Begin by lying flat on a mat. (If you don't have a yoga mat, use a bath towel.) Place one hand on your heart and the other on your belly. Close your eyes and take five slow, deep breaths. Try to make the exhales longer than the inhales. This will help release tension by breathing it out of the body. Slow, deep breathing also helps calm the nervous system so you can settle your mind right there on the mat.

Fetal Pose Yoga
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Fetal Pose

After five breaths, bend your knees and hug them to your chest. Rock on your lower back, side to side, and come to rest on one side. Bring your body into a fetal position, cradling your head in your bottom arm and positioning the top arm wherever comfortable. Notice how you are nurturing your own body.

Cat/Cow
DR Travel Photo and Video/shutterstock

Tabletop

With your top hand placed on the floor, press in and sit up, then turn to face the front of the mat. Move into a tabletop position by placing your hands underneath your shoulders and your knees under your hips. The tops of your feet should be on the mat.

Cat Pose
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Cat/Cow

Inhale deeply and arch your spine by sticking your seat and chest into the air and lifting your gaze upward. As you exhale, round your spine and tuck your chin toward your navel — think of one of those Halloween cat images to find the stretch across your back. On the inhale, repeat the arching of your spine and the lifting of your chin and seat. On the exhale, find your cat-arched spine again. Repeat for five slow, deep breaths.

Plank
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Plank

Keeping your hands planted, step your right foot and then your left foot to the back of the mat, hip-width apart, and come into a high plank position. Use the muscles of the backs of your thighs (quadriceps) to lift your knees higher while keeping your hips where they are. This posture is meant to engage every part of the body. Take five slow, full breaths in high plank.

Down Dog
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Down Dog

From plank, bring your hips up to the ceiling for downward facing dog. Open your fingers wide and slightly bend your elbows and knees to be gentle on the joints. Take five long, deep breaths.

Chair Pose
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Chair Pose

Gaze at the top of the mat and walk your feet to the front, keeping them hip-width apart and your torso folded over your legs. Grab opposite elbows and sway your hips side to side. Come to stillness and bend your knees deeply, sending your hips and seat low behind you. Lift up your torso and extend your arms up into the air, bringing your biceps by your ears and reaching your fingers toward the ceiling. In this position, it's as if you were sitting down into a chair with your arms raised over your head. Hold for five full and slow breaths.

Wide Leg Fold
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Wide-Leg Fold

Stand up and keep your arms raised above your head. Send your hips forward and reach your fingers back behind you, and imagine making an arc in the air with your hands as you bend back. Come to standing tall and bring your hands to your hips. Take a quarter turn to the left to face the side edge of the mat. Separate your feet as wide as possible with your heels out and toes in, so that your feet are slightly pigeon-toed. With your hands on your hips and your back as straight and flat as possible, hinge at the hips to fold down and release your hands to the floor. If they do not reach the floor, grip the outside of your legs with your hands for support. Let your head hang heavy and take 10 deep, slow breaths.

Tree Pose
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Tree Pose

Bring your hands to your hips and draw your navel back toward your spine to engage your core. With a flat back, lift your torso up to stand up straight. Turn to face the front of the mat and stand with your feet hip-width apart. Bring the sole of your right foot onto the inside of your left leg, either at your inner thigh, at your calf, or resting like a kickstand on the floor. Bring your palms together in front of your heart and focus your eyes on one thing in front of you that isn't moving. Breathe five full breaths and then release your right foot and repeat on the opposite side, balancing on your right leg this time and taking five long breaths to complete the pose.

Mountain Pose
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Mountain Pose

Stand with your feet hip-width apart and your arms extended long by your sides, palms open. Bring your shoulders up to your ears, and then relax them down. Close your eyes and perform a mental body scan, starting from the feet. Name each body part as you pass over it. When you reach your head, feel it stretch up toward the ceiling to make you taller. Remain in mountain pose after the body scan for five deep, slow breaths.

Bridge Pose
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Bridge Pose

Make your way onto your back and bend your knees, leaving your feet flat on the floor, approximately hip-width apart. Press into your heels and lift your hips into the air. Interlace your fingers underneath your lower back, palms together, and bring your shoulder blades closer together. Press into your fist and heels to lift everything higher. Take five long breaths before releasing the grip of your hands and lowering your body. Repeat this pose twice more, holding each time for five slow, deep breaths.

Legs Up the Wall
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Legs Up the Wall

Move the mat so that a shorter end is flush against the wall. Sit upright and sideways against the wall (as close as possible) with knees bent and feet flat on the ground. Spin around and put your legs up the wall, with your back and head flat on the ground and your arms extended down by your hips, leaving as little space as possible between your seat and the wall. Getting into this pose is never pretty, so don't worry if it initially feels awkward. If you feel any pain in your low back, place a pillow underneath your hips. Close your eyes and take 15 long, slow breaths.

Corpse Pose
fizkes/istockphoto

Corpse Pose

Bring your legs down from the wall and lay your body flat on the mat. Return to the original starting position, placing one hand on your heart and one on your belly. Close your eyes and take 10 full breaths. When your mind starts to wander, bring your attention and focus back to your inhale and exhale.

Easy Pose
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Seated Pose

After these 10 breaths, come to a comfortable seated position. Set a timer for five minutes and close your eyes. Take the deepest breaths possible until the timer goes off. Again, when your mind starts to wander, bring it back to your inhale and exhale. Notice the echoes of stillness as you stand up and leave the mat, feeling more internal clarity and softness.