Self-care is about focusing inward, and giving yourself the care you need to put your best foot forward into the world each day. We believe that yoga is an essential part of that routine, and can help you to balance your mind and body. Today, we want to dive into the top 4 most relaxing yoga poses so that you can add them into your routine, or even practice them when you just need a moment to yourself.
The Lotus Pose is a widely recognizable pose. You can see it on many yoga and meditative business logos, imagery, and the like. For this pose, you sit “criss-cross applesauce” down on the mat. Then, place both of your feet up on their opposite thighs with your hands resting on the knees. Lotus Pose is excellent for calming the mind and checking in with yourself. This pose is often used at the beginning of practice to get your mind in the right place. It stretches the hips and groin and allows you to focus on breathing. Try sitting in lotus pose and completing a breathing technique like Sama Vritti or “equal breathing.” Breathe in for four counts, pause for two counts, and breathe out for four counts, and then pause for two counts again. Repeat for a minute or so until you feel deep relaxation set in. This is a great way to use yoga to help you relax. If this pose is uncomfortable for you, you may sit in a normal cross-legged position until you gain more flexibility. Another way to practice is to put one foot on top of the opposite thigh and switch halfway through.
If you have been to a yoga class, you remember this pose. It is the one where you sit on your knees, tuck your feet under your bum, and lean forward with your head on the ground and arms stretched ahead—it’s known as “Child’s Pose.” Child’s Pose is fantastic because it helps to stretch out your hips, ankles, arms, and back. This yoga posture is often used as a break in class. Because your abdomen will be sitting on your knees, it is not possible to breathe normally in this pose. It forces you to think about sending your breath to your lower back, which helps you to slow down and relax. Completing Child’s Pose with your knees close together even helps to give your belly a gentle massage. This is beneficial for digestion. If you take your knees wide, it can help to stretch out your hips—where much of our body’s tension is held— and elongate your spine. This is excellent for those of us who work at a desk or sit for long periods.
Standing forward folds release tension in the lower back, and Uttanasana is no different. There are several variations of this pose, but they all do the same thing—help you to relax and relieve stress. To complete a standing forward bend, stand with your feet hip-width apart, hinge your hips and begin to fold forward with a straight back. When you reach 90 degrees, continue to curve your spine down with your arms reaching forward to the ground. Relax your head and neck completely, and allow your deep breaths to ease you into the stretch. You can take this pose even deeper by holding each elbow with the opposite hand, drawing your shoulder blades toward the ears, and allowing your body to hang. Once you get the hang of this pose (get it?) you will want to enjoy the benefits of Uttanasana every day.
If you are anything like us, Savasana is your absolute favorite pose in yoga. It can feel like a little nap after a rewarding workout. It is, quite possibly, the most relaxing yoga pose. But, this pose is known in the yoga world as being the easiest pose to do and the hardest pose to master. Corpse Pose is that pose that your teacher often instructs you to do at the end of class where you lay on your back and, well—keep laying there. You may be the type of person who wonders what the heck this is doing for you. The answer is, a lot! Savasana allows you to ground your energy and focus inward. It will enable you to focus on the things you usually don’t even think about. You may notice your heartbeat or breathing pattern and even fall into a meditative state. Practicing Savasana at the end of your yoga class will help you to notice that your shoulders feel a lot less tense, or even the areas where there is still stress that you might need to focus on later. This pose allows you to identify where you need stress relief and is an essential part of your yoga routine.
This Self-Care September, we are opening up our yoga classes to all membership levels, and adding more classes throughout the day so that everyone has a chance to focus on themselves and utilize these yoga poses for relaxation. You can practice yoga at all of our locations. Come in and take advantage of the mental health benefits of exercise by giving a class a try and let us know what you think! We look forward to getting to know you!