The most effective exercise for me when I feel stressed or anxious is to practice a balancing pranayama (breath control).
Anulom vilom (alternate nostril breathing) is a very gentle, balancing and relaxing pranayam. It can be done for as long as you feel comfortable.
When to do it?
Early morning is best, on an empty stomach.
How do you do it?
You can do it in silence, listening to nature or play some calming music.
Sit in a comfortable position, preferably crossed legged with a straight spine.
Inhale slowly and deeply, then exhale through your mouth for a few breaths to calm your body, mind and senses.
Then place hands in Vishnu Mudra (as seen above). Using the thumb of your right hand, block the right nostril and breathe in through the left nostril.
Then using your ring finger, block your left nostril, while releasing the right and breathe out through your right nostril.
Then leaving the hands in that position, breathe in through the right nostril.
Block the right nostril and breathe out through the left.
This is one cycle. Practice this starting out doing 10 cycles and increase as you feel comfortable. Focus on how the air feels flowing through you and keep the breath slow, gentle and fluid.
After practicing this pranayam, place your hands on your knees or in Jnana Mudra and notice how your mind and body feels. Try to keep focus on your breath.
If the mind wanders, this is normal. Without judgement, gently guide the mind back to focusing on the breath and do this for as long as you feel comfortable. When you're
ready, slowly wiggle your fingers and come back into your body.
I hope this practice helps you as much as it helps me ☺
Have a happy Sunday!