If you’ve experienced more than a little stress from work, family or well, life, then try these five yoga poses to clear your head and unwind your body.
Extended Puppy Pose
When to do it: You’ve been driving or sitting all day or traveling.
In addition to settling a manic mind, this pose will help loosen tight shoulders and an aching back.
How to do it: This pose is like downward facing dog, except your knees remain on the ground. Start by coming onto all fours and walking your hands forward as you curl your toes under. Keep your hips over your ankles as you lower your chest until it hovers about an inch above the ground. Relax your neck (you may want to place a blanket under your forehead) but keep your arms active as you press your palms into the ground. Hold for 30 seconds before relaxing into child’s pose.
When to do it: To recover from family drama.
Carrying tension in your face and chest? Find relief from emotionally charged situations with this cathartic and energizing pose.
How to do it: Kneel on the ground, tucking one ankle under the other. (If kneeling like this hurts your knees, try placing a block between your feet for a little elevation.) Press your palms against your knees and energetically spread your fingers apart. Inhale through the nose. Then, open your mouth wide and stick your tongue out and downward. Open your eyes wide and exhale through your mouth, making a roaring “ha!” sound. Roar as many times you like, contracting the muscles in the front of your throat.
When to do it: After a day of indulgence.
You ate, drank and were merry. But now all of those indulgences feel like they’re just sitting in your stomach. This pose is known for aiding digestion.
How to do it: Sit on the ground with your legs together and extended in front of you. Bend your right knee over your left leg and place your right foot on the ground. Bring your left heel as close to your sitting bones as possible. As you exhale, twist your torso to the right and place your right palm on the floor. Hook your left elbow over your right knee and use your arm to deepen the twist. Keep your left leg extended and continue to lengthen the spine upward as you twist. Repeat on the other side.
Legs Up The Wall
When to do it: You can’t get to sleep (or stay there).
It’s time for bed, but your body and brain are fighting you like a petulant toddler. Legs up the wall can help with general anxiety, restlessness and insomnia.
How to do it: The key to this pose is getting your butt as close to the wall as possible. It’s helpful to start by laying on your side with your knees tucked into your chest. In this position, wriggle yourself toward the wall until your butt is pressed against it. Extend your legs and pivot your body until you’re lying on your back and the backs of your legs are resting against the wall. You can rest your arms alongside the body or place your hands on your belly. Relax here for up to 15 minutes.
When to do it: Your energy is zapped but your to-do list is overwhelming.
This energizing backbend pose can help you find your second (or third) wind when you simply can’t afford to be weary.
How to do it: Lie facedown with your arms along your sides. Let your forehead rest on the floor as you inwardly rotate your thighs. As you exhale, lift your head, torso, arms and legs so that you’re resting on your belly and pelvis. Roll back your shoulders, but be careful not to strain your neck. Hold the pose for up to a minute, maintaining steady breathing and focusing on finding length in the spine and legs. Release the pose and rest. Repeat one to two times.