This post isn’t exactly my regular style of travel content, but for me it was a big focus of 2019. I needed to find ways to deal with my stress and anxiety. It’s started to affect me in more ways than one, and as you can imagine, I’m NOT OK with that. So I decided to share some of my favourite free yoga and meditation resources for stress and anxiety!
Yoga & Meditation Resources For Stress & Anxiety
Let’s clear a few things up. When I say they are free, I’m assuming that you already have some form of internet connection (whether that’s at home or wifi while travelling). And either a laptop, tablet, smartphone or smart TV. The majority of these resources are either apps or can be found online!
Most can be done from the comfort of your home or in a hotel room. You don’t necessarily need to use any equipment, like a yoga mat or anything special. If you don’t have a yoga mat, you could use a towel for example.
For those that are new to yoga and meditation, I can’t twist myself into a pretzel or balance on my head. I’m still very much, for want of a better word, a novice. But can still enjoy the benefits of ‘gentle’ practices.
Meditation is not necessarily sitting cross-legged in silence, trying to find the meaning of life. I use guided meditations that try and distract you from your own thoughts to think about other things that are more calming or relaxing. I simply put them on while I try to sleep. Usually there’s a setting which will turn them off automatically. This way you don’t have to worry about them playing all night long.
The following apps offer both a free and premium service, I ONLY use the free sections. I also use the Apple app store, although I believe that most can be found on Android too.
Yes, Breethe with two e’s in the middle. This app has been an absolute LIFE SAVER. I went through a stage where I struggled to sleep. I came across Breethe and I listen to it EVERY night while in bed.
There’s only a handful of free meditations, with most only being short ones that only last for 5 – 10 minutes. However I listen to one called ‘Sweet Dreams‘ which lasts for 20 minutes, which can be extended to either 40 or 60 minutes by continuing with just the calming music.
The guided meditation starts by focusing and thinking about how your breath is affecting the body and then goes on to help you visualise various calming scenes. I’m usually asleep by the end of the 20 minutes, which is crazy considering I’d be laying awake tossing and turning for HOURS.
It’s a mixture of it doing a great job of switching off my own thoughts, the calming voice and the background music. I like the way that you can control the loudness of the voice and the music as well. I like to have the music slightly louder compared to the speaking.
Take A Break
Before Breethe I used Take A Break. It’s a very basic app with either a 7 minute ‘work break’ meditation or a 13 minute ‘stress relief’ option. This app gives you the choice of sounds to play in the background: ocean, rain, stream or music. I liked the music the best and it can be continued for 5, 10 or 20 minutes after the guided meditation finishes.
I used to use the work break meditation at my old job. As a delivery driver I used to take my break in my van and would listen to it then. I actually prefer the words/routine of the work break meditation compared to the stress relief, so I’d also use this one at night too, even though I wouldn’t be “returning to work”!
Relax Yoga Music
I’ve not tried the guided meditation parts of Relax Yoga Music but if you just wanted calming sounds, this one works quite well. You can ‘layer up’ different sounds to create a larger scene. For example, you could have a stream, mixed with the rain, mixed with bird noises.
There’s also an option for ‘brainwaves’ and ‘white noise’. I’m not sure of the exact science but the frequency of the sounds is meant to help relax the brain or something.
RelaxMelodies is similar to Relax Yoga Music but it has industrial (?) sounds as well as the more natural or instrumental ones.
I’m actually really bad with ‘noise’ when it comes to sleeping. Such as if I can hear traffic noises, loud fans/air cons, rain, they’ll irritate me and usually keep me awake. A lot of people tend like the white noise of things like fans but I prefer more instrumental sounds!
I always found the layout of this app not very user friendly but after a recent update I’ve seen that they now have a ’15 minute body scan’ guided meditation option. I learnt about body scans during a yoga class. They are good for getting you to concentrate of various parts of the body, again switching off your own thoughts while you focus on what it’s telling you to do.
In the free version of the app, if you click on: meditations – sleep (start now) – 15 minute body scan. It’s one of only 2 guided meditations that are part of the free section. All the stress ones for example cost more.
The Yoga Bunny – 61 Points of Relaxation, Breath Awareness, Yoga Nidra (12th June 2016)
A version of a body scan is the ’61 Points of Relaxation’. If you look on YouTube you can find millions of videos for this. But I don’t like that if I’m trying to do it before I sleep (better for routines!), YouTube won’t let you switch the screen off, unlike apps and Podcasts that’ll just continue to play.
I’ve found 61 Point scans really relaxing during yoga classes. They basically ‘draw’ a big loop around your body and you imagine an energy travelling to the different body parts being listed. For example: right thumb, right pointing finger, right middle finger, right ring finger, right pinkie, right wrist, right elbow, right shoulder. You then do the same on the other arm, each leg, body, until you get back to the beginning.
The only problem with this particular Podcast is it does say to try and stay awake for the full 33 minutes to get the full benefit, which doesn’t exactly help when I’m trying to use them TO fall asleep. However, it’s still an option if you need some relaxation!
However, YouTube is great for free yoga lessons! I tend to use a smart TV, just so it’s a larger video to follow, but a laptop or computer works just as well!
Restorative Yoga Without Props
This is one of my favourite yoga videos for de-stressing! It’s around 40 minutes and as the name suggests, you don’t need any extra props or blocks etc! It’s a really easy session, mainly just laying in various comfortable poses and deep breathing.
You can find it by simply searching ‘restorative yoga without props’ by ChriskaYoga. She has hundreds of different yoga lessons for all different types of situations! Yoga With Adriene is another good channel. Check out the ‘yoga for stress’ and ‘yoga for winter blues’!
I once stayed at a hotel in Chicago that had a whole TV channel dedicated to yoga you could do in the rooms and even provided free yoga mats. I thought this was a great idea!
This isn’t so much as a video you need to use each time, but it’s great to watch as a way to teach you how to do deep breathing to reduce stress. I plan on sticking to what is said in this video, by doing this type of breathing twice a day, when I wake up and just before bed.
Another free way to deal with stress is to speak about your problems if it’s something you are struggling with by yourself. You’ll find that a lot of people have probably had similar experiences. They may be able to suggest ways that worked for them and could help you too. This is how I discovered this video and the following!…
Tapping To Relieve Stress
Just a short 2 minute video to sum up how to ‘tap’. Again once you know how to do it, you don’t necessarily have to re-watch the video, just simply work it into your routine. I’m up for trying anything!
Free Yoga Sessions
It seems that more and more places offer free yoga sessions. This tends to be more during the summer months and will be in outdoor places like local parks or in ‘community’ areas. Some require registering in advance, just so they are aware of numbers, or sometimes you can simply just turn up. I actually go to a free yoga class at my local library once a month.
Some yoga studios will even have a ‘free first session’ offer. This way you can see if it’s right for you. I’ve been to several different (often paid) yoga classes now and you’ll find that they are all very different. I prefer the more gentle yoga sessions that work on relaxation, rather than the ones that are for strength and flexibility. Laughing is good for relieving stress too so things like goat yoga work well too!
A new one that I use is Calm. I recently discovered this one at work. It is an app as well and is very similar to the other ones that I mentioned previously. HOWEVER if you are a teacher, you can ‘apply’ for a FREE premium subscription using your school email address. It works in a couple of countries too, both the USA and the UK were on the list! I really like this one, they have the guided mediations, sleep stories and visual breathing exercises!
What are some of your favourite techniques to reduce stress and anxiety? I’d love to know, I’m willing to try multiple different things!