Best yoga poses for stress management

Yoga has been an important part of life across Eastern cultures for centuries, but in recent years, this holistic exercise has gained popularity here in the U.S. There are lots of reasons to do yoga: Whether you're looking for a new way to work out, trying to find time to relax or have been prescribed yoga as a physical therapy treatment, there are countless benefits to this popular activity.
Most of the health benefits of yoga – improved circulation, weight loss, reduced blood pressure, improved muscle tone and better mental focus – can be attributed to yoga's tendency to reduce stress. If you're looking for a little escape from the worries of everyday life, try these yoga poses in the comfort of your own home:

Balsana (Child's pose)
Child's Post is almost certainly everyone's favorite yoga pose. This resting pose is generally done in between asanas (sun salutations) in order to allow for a moment to refocus breathing and promote relaxation. Even if you aren't going all-out with an entire workout, a few deep breaths in balsana will help you recharge. As a bonus, Yoga Journal has recommended this comfortable pose for boosting immune system health!

To get into balsana, begin in a kneeling position. Sit back until your hips are resting comfortably on top of your ankles. Keeping your back straight, lower your upper body until your forehead is gently resting on the floor. You can either rest your hands at your side or stretch them out over your head.

Ananda Balsana (Happy baby pose)
Are you noticing the child theme? Many of yoga's most relaxing positions are inspired by happy children. Happy baby pose is a great option for those who want to improve their flexibility while relaxing at the same time.

Start by lying on your back with your eyes fixed above you. Keeping your knees bent, bring your legs up so that the bottoms of your feet are parallel to the ceiling. Grab the insides of your feet with your hands, keeping your arms on the inside of your legs. Use your hands to pull your feet towards you, breathing deeply.

Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward-facing dog pose)
You know that cute little stretch your dog does after he wakes up from a nap? Our canine companions sure can teach us a thing or two about happiness! Take a breather and improve your immune system health with downward-facing dog.

It's easiest to get into downward-facing dog directly from balsana. Stretch your hands out in front of your head and plant your feet firmly on the ground. Push back, lifting your body off of the floor until your legs and arms are as straight as possible. If you're working to improve your flexibility, create a constant tension with your arms and legs as you push your head toward your knees.

With these and all other yoga poses, the most important tool for relaxation is your own breath. Focus on your breathing pattern, and dismiss all thoughts that come into your brain without judgment.