Now I don’t practice yoga on a regular basis (even though I would like to do more of it) so I’m no pro, but when I do get it into my schedule I absolutely love it. It always leaves me feeling refreshed, balanced and stress free. Plus it’s a great way to release tension after lifting weights at the gym and an intense workout. Yoga can be both physically demanding but can also be very soothing and relaxing which makes it very complimentary to any other physical exercise you do, whether you’re a gym bunny or play sport. Now you don’t need to go to an expensive studio or be super flexible to take up yoga. That’s the beauty of it, you can actually do yoga anywhere at anytime. My favourite yoga postures are the ones that help my body de-stress, calm me down and release muscle tension after my intense workouts. So if you want some help in de-stressing and releasing tension in the body here are some of my favourite yoga poses and stretches.
Legs up the wall
This is one of those poses that people do because it just feels so good without even knowing it’s a yoga pose. Putting your legs up the wall is a technique used in yoga and even the medical field to help relieve stress and anxiety. I always like to do it when I’ve had a stressful day and I need something to help me unwind and relax before bed. It’s also a great gentle hamstring stretch and lower back release. Which when you are like me and do a lot of squats can feel so good on the lower part of the body. Legs up the wall have also shown to help people who suffer from insomnia, lower back pain, migraines, headaches, depression and even those terrible “time of the month” cramps for you ladies. This is definitely one of those poses everyone could incorporate into their life a little more.
Instructions:All you need to do is simply get your butt as close to the wall as possible and then stretch your legs up the wall as you lay flat on your back. You can use a pillow to support your neck if that’s more comfortable for you. Try and stay in the pose for a few minutes or for maximum benefit even 10 to 15 minutes.
This pose feels so good, especially to release the lower back and open the front of your shoulders. Like legs up the wall, the pose is so restorative on the body and really helps your body unwind and relax after a stressful day. It’s almost like being a little kid again and curling up into a safe little cocoon.
Instructions:Come to your knees and bring your big toes to touch. Spread your knees out wide and sit your butt back on your heels. Then slowly bring your torso forward in between your knees and bring your arms out in front of you. Stay here for as long as feels good and you feel the tension melt away.
Downward facing dog
This is the infamous pose of yoga, that if you haven’t done a class you have heard of this pose. I actually recommend this pose in my plans because it’s such a great all rounder for a full body stretch. You stretch out your calves, hamstrings, lower back and shoulders. It can feel a little awkward at first but once you spend a minute or so in it you can begin to relax and feel your body release tension. If you run a lot or do lots of squats, this can feel very tight on your hamstrings, so bend your knees as much as you need too. This pose is actually in yoga what they call a mild inversion, as your head is below your heart. Inversions are great for your thyroid, regulates your blood pressure and are a mood-enhancer.
Place your feet on the floor about hip distance apart, then walk your hands out in front of you so you come to plank position. Make sure your hands and arms are slightly wider then shoulder width and spread your fingers out wide. Then just lift your hips towards the ceiling so you create a V shape. You may need to adjust your hand and feet a little. If this is really intense on the hamstrings then bend your knees as much as you need to. You will get a rush of blood to the head as you go slightly inverted, so take your time getting into and out of the pose.
This would have to be one of my favourite groin stretches because it’s so effective. It’s nice and easy to do and can be very relaxing.
Place the soles of your feet together and let your knees fall out wide. You can interlock your hands around your feet and then gently use your elbows to apply a gentle pressure to your inner thighs. If you want to release your lower back then you can slowly bring your torso forward. If it’s too intense then you can also place pillows under each
All of these poses help me out so much in stretching out tension after a big workout, or calm me down after a stressful day. Remember stretching and relaxing is just as important as the workout itself. Don’t just stop at these poses either. Find ones that you like the most and incorporate them into your own routine. Do you have any favourite yoga poses you use? Comment below as I’d love to find some more.