Living with chronic muscle pain and stress goes beyond just the physical manifestations of the problem; it can affect the anatomy and functioning of the brain too, as is suggested by a recent research study. In fact, it can bring about depression, severe anxiety, reduced pain tolerance, and cause slower cognitive performance in those who are suffering.

But, with a consistent yoga practice, employing the right breathing techniques and some meditation to calm the mind, all these repercussions can be overturned. Here are three yoga asanas that you should consider, to relieve stress and muscle pain, and eliminate toxins from your system.

Dhanurasana, Or Bow Pose: This posture is a wonderful way to beat stress and fatigue in the body, strengthen the back and abdominal muscles (improving the flexibility of the spine), and opening up the chest, neck and shoulders (centers where most people store tension and stress).

Step 1: Lie face down on your stomach, feet hip-width apart and flat on the floor. Relax your arms by your sides.
Step 2: Bend your knees and hold your feet (2 inches from the toes) or ankles according to your flexibility, thumbs outside and fingers inside.
Step 3: Look up towards the sky and inhale as you lift your chest and kick your legs up. Be sure to do this without a break, toes pointed, keeping the knees in. Do not let the knees open up too wide.
Step 4: Stay focused and relaxed in the pose, breathing in and out, nice and long through your nose.
Step 5: Release the pose gently after 20 seconds, allowing your chest and legs to touch the ground first and then let go of your ankles, arms by your sides. Move on to the next rep.

Marjariasana, Or Cat Stretch: This posture is a great way to improve blood circulation, strengthen the spine, relax the mind, and massage the digestive organs in the body.

Step 1: Get down on all fours (hands and knees). Make sure your arms are perpendicular to the ground, wrists in line with your shoulders and knees hip-width apart.
Step 2: Now, inhale as you lift your chin up and drop your head back, looking up at the sky. Simultaneously, pull your navel down and raise your tailbone up, compressing your buttocks. You should be able to distinctly feel this!
Step 3: Hold this stance as you breathe nice and deep, in and out through your nose (at least for 5 breaths).
Step 4: Next, exhale as you now lower your chin to your chest, rounding the back as much as possible. Hold for 5 breaths.
Step 5: Move on to next rep. Be sure to practice this stretch slowly, in order to gain maximum benefits.

Setu Bandhasana, Or Bridge Pose: This posture is one of the best ways to calm the brain immediately by lowering stress, depression, and anxiety levels. In addition, it opens up the lungs (improving thyroid), chest, neck and shoulders.

Step 1: Lie down on your back, bend your knees and grab your ankles. Bring your ankles in as close to the sides of your buttocks as possible. Knees and ankles aligned.
Step 2: Now, place your arms by your sides, palms flat on the floor.
Step 3: Inhale as you lift your back off the floor; roll your shoulders inwards, slowly lifting your chest up so the chin can rest on it. Be sure to evenly distribute your weight between the shoulders, arms and feet. The buttocks must be kept tight and contracted the entire time.
Step 4: To make things a little easier, interlace your fingers and push your hands on the floor to lift the torso higher. Keep your breathing consistent, in and out through your nose.
Step 5: Hold for 5 breaths and exhale as you slowly release out of the posture. Move on to the next rep.

Over time, you will see a significant change as the pain reduces and the brain gets rewired to deal with the stress in a healthier manner.

PS: Here’s your one-stop guide to Yoga Asanas For Weight Loss.
Celebrate International Yoga Day 2015 With Z Living!

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Nisha Gulati is a fitness expert and model originally hailing from New Jersey, USA. She is a certified Bikram Hot Yoga and Ashtanga Vinyasa Instructor, health and fitness columnist for Hyderabad’s widely read B Positive Magazine, a trained Bharatnatyam, Odissi, Bhangra, and giddha dancer. She also has trained in Kalaripayattu a martial arts form in Kerala. Yoga has been a source of great discipline, inspiration and positivity for Nisha who has been teaching at studios in Mumbai India, Phuket Thailand, Marina Dubai and Vancouver Canada.