A 31-day yoga routine to help you reduce stress

As summer winds down, your schedule suddenly fills up. This routine will create some much needed "me time" in your day.
Man lying on floor with his legs stretched out going up wall
"Legs up the wall" is a restorative yoga pose that allows the mind and body to relax, easing tension. GibsonPictures / Getty Images
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By Stephanie Mansour

August is a hectic time for everyone — kids are getting ready to go back to school and everyone has to return to the daily grind of work after a lax few months of vacations and summer Fridays.

All of this change can quickly take a toll on your mental health. When transitioning back into the routine of fall, it’s important to have a plan in place to make sure you don’t let the stress pile up and movement and self-care fall to the wayside. As a certified yoga instructor, I always recommend that my clients try incorporating yoga into their routine to combat this sense of overwhelm. According to one poll, 87 percent of people who participated in a yoga felt happier when they were leaving the class than when they entered. So there's a good chance it will give you the boost you need as you're juggling back-to-school shopping and work commitments.

Yoga can be intimidating for those who have never tried it, but it doesn’t have to be! Besides being fantastic for your mental health, the practice is a great tool for building strength, toning your body and improving your overall flexibility. Plus, it only requires a mat and can be practiced anywhere from your living room to a hotel room, making it one of the more budget-friendly self-care practices.

The Workout Structure

I recommend practicing yoga at least 3 times a week for at least 20 minutes. If you’re looking to de-stress and fit more self-care into your everyday routine, these yoga sequences and poses are a great place to start. What's great about them is that you can string together however many you have time for — whether that's just one right when you get out of bed, or 10-15 for a serious zen session. Even if your routine gets cut short, you’ll still be getting your blood flowing, connecting to your breath, and creating a short pause in the day to help you regroup.

The first two sequences are called sun salutations and are perfect to help you get your body warmed up and ready for other activities — whether it’s before a yoga class or jog, or first thing in the morning before you get moving for the day. You will flow through every move in each sequence continuously (versus performing one and then pausing in between). Then on certain days, you will perform additional poses that will help with balance and relaxation.

Download your printable calendar here. Hang the calendar on your fridge, or keep it in your purse or car, for easy reference. Of course, this calendar is just a suggestion. Feel free to adjust based on the time you have and how your body is feeling on any given day!

Day 1: Sun Salutation A

Day 2: Sun Salutation A + B

Day 3: REST

Day 4: Sun Salutation A + Relaxation

Day 5: Sun Salutation A + Balance

Day 6: REST

Day 7: REST

Day 8: Sun Salutation B

Day 9: Sun Salutation A

Day 10: REST

Day 11: Sun Salutation B + Relaxation

Day 12: REST

Day 13: Sun Salutation A + Balance + Relaxation

Day 14: REST

Day 15: Sun Salutation A + B

Day 16: REST

Day 17: Sun Salutation A + B + Relaxation

Day 18: Sun Salutation A

Day 19: REST

Day 20: Sun Salutation B

Day 21: REST

Day 22: Sun Salutation A + Balance + Relaxation

Day 23: Sun Salutation B

Day 24: REST

Day 25: Sun Salutation B + Balance + Relaxation

Day 26: REST

Day 27: Sun Salutation A + B

Day 28: REST

Day 29: Sun Salutation A + B + Balance + Relaxation

Day 30: REST

Day 31: Sun Salutation A + B + Balance + Relaxation

Exercise Bank

Sun Salutation A

Tadasana

Stand with your feet as wide as your hips, press down with your heels into the ground, and relax your arms by your side.

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Urdhva Hastasana

Take a deep breath in. Raise your arms above your head.

Uttanasana

Exhale and bend your body forward at your waist. Reach your fingertips towards the floor and let your head hang.

Ardha Uttanasana

Press your fingertips into your shins and lengthen your spine, creating a tabletop with your back, while lifting your head up and forward and breathing in.

Chaturanga Dandasana

Exhale and step back into a plank position. Inhale here, and then hug the elbows in towards your chest and lower yourself down towards the ground. If you’re a yogi expert you can combine this into one move, jumping backwards with your elbows bent so your elbows are beside your ribs as you lower yourself onto the floor.

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

While you inhale, press into your hands pulling, squeeze your shoulder blades backwards, and focus on lifting your chest to the sky. Keep your thighs and knees on the ground for a modification. Otherwise, press the tops of your feet into the ground as you lift your thighs and knees off of the ground to move into a full upward facing dog.

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Exhale and pull your naval in towards your spine to lift up and back into downward facing dog. Press down with your palms and roll your shoulders away from your ears.

Ardha Uttanasana

While you inhale, if you’re a beginner walk your feet towards your hands until your are in a forward fold. If you’re more experienced with yoga, jump into this position. Then press your fingers into your shins and lift your head up into a tabletop position.

Uttanasana

Exhale and relax your head down towards your shins while your hands are reaching towards the ground.

Urdhva Hastasana

Finally, while inhaling, reach your arms up towards the sky, then press your palms together in a prayer pose bringing them down towards the center of your chest.

Sun Salutation B

Tadasana

Stand with your feet as wide as your hips, press down with your heels into the ground, and relax your arms by your side.

Utkatasana

While you inhale, imagine you’re sitting back into a chair while lifting your hands to the sky. Your arms should be in line with your ears.

Uttanasana

Exhale and bend forward. Reach your fingers towards the floor and let your head hang.

Ardha Uttanasana

Inhale while lifting your head and press your fingers into your shins creating a tabletop position.

Chaturanga Dandasana

Exhale and step or jump back into plank position and lower down towards the ground.

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

While you inhale, focus on lifting your chest up to the sky. Keep your thighs and knees on the ground for a modification.

Adho Mukha Avanasana

Exhaling, use your palms to push into the ground as you lift your butt into the air for downward facing dog.

Virabhadrasana I

Inhale and bring the right foot forward while keeping the left heel turned inward. Your arms should be lifted to the sky and your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle while your left leg is straight back behind you.

Chaturanga Dandasana

Exhale while you bring the hands down to frame your right foot and press back into plank. Lower down towards the ground.

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Inhale and press your chest up towards the sky into upward facing dog.

Adho Mukha Savanasana

Exhale and press back into downward facing dog.

Virabhadrasana I

Inhale and bring the left foot forward while keeping the right heel turned inward. Your arms should be lifted and your right knee bent at a 90-degree angle while your right leg is straight back behind you.

Chaturanga Dandasana

Exhale and bring the hands down to frame the left foot, and then press back into a plank position. Lower down towards the ground.

Urdhva Mukha Svanasana

Inhale and press up into upward facing dog.

Adho Mukha Svanasana

Exhale and press back into downward facing dog.

Ardha Uttanasana

Step or jump your feet to your hands and end in a forward fold. Then press your fingers into your shins to lift your head and straighten your back into a tabletop position.

Utkatasana

Inhale and sit your butt backwards while pulling your arms towards the sky. Imagine you’re sitting back into a chair while lifting your arms so that they are in line with your ears.

Tadasana

Push through the heels to return back into a standing position.

Balancing Poses

Forward Lunge Walk

While lunging forward keep your legs at a 90-degree angle. To engage all parts of your body, make sure to keep your hands on your hips. Hold this pose for 5 seconds before straightening the leg for a release. Repeat this 10 times per left.

Warrior III

From the forward lunge, press down through your right foot and slowly tilt your torso forward as you lift the left leg straight back. Ultimately you’re working towards having your torso straight with your arms extended forward and your left leg extended back. Hold for 3 slow breaths, then release. Repeat on the right side.

Relaxation Poses

Legs Up the Wall

This position is a favorite for my clients because they can do it anywhere with a wall (or without like I am doing here)! Lying on the ground, put your legs up the wall and try to create a 90-degree angle. This position is fantastic if you have swollen ankles or anxiety. Hold for 2-3 minutes for maximum effects.

Corpse Pose

This pose is so simple that in my experience, many people don’t even consider it to be a pose! You’re literally trying to do nothing by lying down at the end of your practice. This position can help you lower blood pressure, calm your mind and relax your body.

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