Your cell phone is ringing, your boss wants to talk to you, and your children want to know what’s for dinner. Stress and anxiety are everywhere. If it’s getting the best of you, you might want to hit the mat and give yoga a try for maximum relaxation. Keep reading to learn 5 yoga poses that will soothe and relax you at the end of a long day.
Why Use Yoga to Relax?
Stress stimulates the body’s sympathetic nervous system and triggers what’s known as the “fight-or-flight” response. This puts your normal body functions on hold (such as digestion), while your body prepares for survival.
Yoga creates the opposite reaction, and its practices are rooted in science and research. According to The Mayo Clinic, yoga relaxes not only the body and mind but stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, also known as the “rest-and-digest” response. Your internal organs return to their normal functions, and your body can once again perform at its peak. Regularly practicing relaxing yoga poses (such as the ones below) can reduce stress, improve fitness, and even manage chronic diseases, such as heart disease and high blood pressure.
However, a word of caution: If you’re new to yoga, take it slowly. Keep your breath smooth and even throughout the practice. Never strain or force yourself beyond your current abilities. If you feel sharp, pinching pain, come out of the pose immediately and rest. It’s just not worth hurting yourself. I’ve written before about yoga practices that will shred your abs, but below are 5 yoga poses for relaxation.
Three-Part Breath (Dirga Pranayama)
Let’s start with a simple breathing exercise that will calm your mind and bring awareness to the present moment. Release your body and focus on your breath for 5-10 minutes. As you inhale, feel your belly lift, ribs expand, and chest lift. As you exhale, notice the muscles in your body beginning to relax.
Here’s a great introduction video to three-part breath: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=52qgs9MhGbQ
Reclined Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Soak up all the goodness of this posture. The Reclined Bound Angle Pose helps release the lower back, lower blood pressure, and provide relief from insomnia and anxiety. It also opens the hips and chest, increases blood circulation in the abdominal region, and calms the mind.
For proper technique, watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_B_Ld_ArzM
Standing Forward Bend (Uttanasana)
This pose comes loaded with benefits that stretches the entire backside of your body and increases the blood flow to your brain for relaxation.
Watch the how-to video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrp6Q_QyDkc
Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
As the name implies, try this pose using a wall for maximum relaxation. First, bring your tailbone flush with the baseboard. Extend your legs up the wall and allow your arms to rest by your side, palms face up. Not only will this post calm your body and mind, but you’ll feel a great stretch along your legs and back.
For proper technique, watch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmcDj4Bf–0
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Typically, the final relaxation pose of a yoga practice. Corpse Pose is designed to align your body and help you deeply relax. Lie flat on your back and allow your feet to gently roll open. Flip your palms face up and roll your shoulders down your back. Close your eyes and allow your body to be very heavy. Stay in Corpse Pose for 5-15 minutes, but try not to fall asleep on account of how relaxed you will feel!
Did these yoga poses work for you? By practicing these poses regularly, you’ll learn techniques to help you unwind, no matter what your day is like. If you have any relaxation poses that you recommend, I’d love to hear from you. Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.