“I'm not flexible.” “I can't touch my toes!” “I don’t meditate.” These are just a few reasons why people tend to shy away from practicing yoga. Have no fear, though, yoga is not about standing on your head and chanting "ohm"s. It's about using your body and breath to lengthen and strengthen your muscles while bringing a little clarity to your mind. Keep reading to learn a few poses that can be done after a tough workout to help rejuvenate your mind and body while pampering those sore muscles.
Standing Sun/Setting Sun Pose
This is the perfect sequence to do after weight training, especially one focusing on arms. It allows you to open up the shoulders and chest muscles while helping alleviate stress and tension in that entire area, including the neck
1. Begin standing with legs a little more than hip-width apart. Keep your elbows and knees slightly bent throughout (do not lock).
2. As you inhale through your nose, lift your arms up with your face turned towards the sky.
3. As you exhale out through your nose, bring your arms back behind you, chin towards your chest, palms facing each other. Interlace your fingers and clasp your hands together.
4. Inhale, lifting your face up while squeezing your shoulder blades together, moving hips forward, while your arms extend up and back.
5. As you exhale and gently bend forward from the hips, bring your arms slowly up over your head and towards the mat.
6. With chin directed toward your chest, bring your head between your legs, squeezing your shoulders together. Take 4-6 breaths here and inhale slowly coming back up to stand.
Downward Facing Dog
When you do strength training and HIIT, you probably notice a lot of tension building up around shoulders, hips, and legs. This pose helps to ease the tension in those areas while lengthening other muscles as well; you will feel the stretch in the back of your legs as you open up the shoulder and chest area. Plus, you get fresh oxygen to your brain because the head is below the heart.
1. Get down on the floor on your hands and feet, midsection lifted.
2. Place your feet hip-width apart, hands shoulder-width apart with fingers spread apart wide. Let your head relax.
3. Lift your tailbone up as you bring your heels toward the mat, keeping your head between your arms.
4. Bring your chest back towards your thighs, breathing deeply in and out through your nose.
5. Push your heels into the floor to feel an extra extension in your calves and hamstrings.
Seated Forward Bend
This is the perfect cool-down stretch after a full-body workout like TRX, bootcamp, or Cross-fit. It lengthens, tones and flexes the spine and refreshes your senses.
1. Begin in seated position with your legs extended in front of you, toes flexed up towards the sky.
2. Inhale and raise your arms above your head.
3. Exhale and bring your arms out to the sides, bending forward from your hips, reaching for your toes, ankles or calves. Your shoulders are relaxed, away from the ears, with the top of your head reaching towards your toes.
4. Take 4 deep breaths here, trying to reach a little further with each exhalation.
5. Inhale as you slowly sit back up.
Perfect after a killer ab workout, these two opposing positions tone the abdominal and back muscles, reducing risk of soreness and increasing flexibility throughout your core. These poses also enhance blood circulation, helping to deliver nutrients and oxygen to all of your organs and cells.
1. Begin in tabletop position (on hands and knees), wrists below your elbows, knees below your hips.
2. Inhale, lifting your chin and booty up toward the sky, shoulders away from your ears, like a dog wagging its tail.
3. Exhale, bringing your chin toward your chest, tucking your tailbone under and bringing your navel towards your spine, rounding out your back like a stretching cat.
4. Continue to slowly flow with the movements for 4-6 breaths.
Knee Down Twist Pose
After a long run or spin class, this is the perfect pose to give your hips a little love. Knee Down Twist helps increase flexibility in the hip joints and increases blood supply to the spine. It also helps relieve tension in the lower back. Take it slow for maximum benefit.
1. Begin by lying on your back with hands at your sides, palms facing up towards the sky.
2. Inhale, bringing your right knee in towards your chest.
3. With your left palm on the outside of your right knee, exhale and bring your right knee over to left side of the body, coming onto the left hip.
4. Extend your right arm out to the side, palm facing up.
5. Bring your right ear and right shoulder towards the mat while your left hand gently presses your right knee to the left side.
6. Take 4-6 deep breaths here, with each exhale trying to reach the right knee down a little further towards the floor.
7. Repeat on your left side.
These poses can be done individually or as a flow for ultimate benefits. Remember to breathe through your nose, and never feel like you are forcing the movement. You want to feel a nice stretch but not strain your muscles or joints.
Ana is a Certified Yoga Instructor who earned her certification from the American Yoga Academy in 2012. She believes that yoga truly is for everybody because of its limitless benefits. Her motto is: "If you can breathe, you can do yoga."