Look, we’ve all had those kinds of days before. The workday in the office was just a little too much, or perhaps there’s been some personal drama in your personal life that has just left you a little off.
For many people, exercise is a great way to help burn off some of that excess tension productively, while also being a way to push yourself past the lack of energy that you may be feeling at that moment.
By the end of a good workout, you might be able to come back to the situation with a clearer head or move on with the rest of your day.
For us, the best way to help push the body, and calm the mind, is with a good session of yoga.
It could be 15 minutes, 30 minutes, or upwards of an hour. But allowing your mind to block out distractions for that period, and focusing on nothing but the poses and sequences is a very calming experience.
So, to do that, you’re going to need some yoga poses to try out for yourself. And luckily for you, we have just such a collection here! From the twisted dragon to the butterfly, a beginner or veteran practitioner, we’ve got you covered!
Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana)
We’ll start this list with one of our favorite poses to try out for decompressing after a long day. It’s both able to push the body, as well as focus the mind. Plus, this one is ideal for beginners too!
The Butterfly pose starts in a seated position on the ground, then the knees are bent outwards to each side of the body, with the feet touching in the center in front of you.
From here, you push your torso forward over your feet, relaxing the muscles in your neck, back, and shoulders, then stretching your body over your feet and onto the floor, with your hands planted firmly on the ground.
This is a perfect yoga pose to aim for when you are either starting off a gym routine or closing one out, as well as just a great stretching exercise to try out for yourself.
This is a pose that does require a little flexibility, so feel free to subtly alter it to your needs if you struggle to get to the full position at first.
Consider starting with a smaller front stretch the first few times that you do this. If you feel that you’re stretching the muscles in your growing too much, consider placing a pillow or blanket there for a little extra support.
Square Pose (Agnistambhasana)
The square pose might look quite similar to the first few steps of the butterfly pose.
But take a closer look, and you’ll find that the positioning of the legs is pretty different, targeting instead the hips and lower back, rather than the hamstrings and glutes of the previous pose.
For this one, you’ll want to start again from a seated position, with your back straight, and your legs in front of you. From that point, you can bend your left leg, and bring it under your right knee, making it parallel to the floor.
Once the first leg is in position, you can move the right leg over the bottom leg.
This should look like a pretty neat stack from your position but don’t worry too much if one part of the leg is sticking out a little. Everyone’s bodies and flexibility levels are a little different!
The legs will ideally be placed flat on each other, so make sure to get some support under them if they aren’t, like a pillow or blanket.
Swan Pose (Hamsasana)
Moving from the seated positions that we’ve covered, this next pose helps stretch your legs, both psychologically, and physically!
Also known as the pigeon pose, the swan pose requires a little more space than the previous poses, especially behind you as you practice on your mat.
You’ll start this pose with your legs stretched behind, you and your upper body raised upwards.
From there, you’ll bring the left leg upwards. The left knee should be slightly in front of you, and your right foot will be bent just under your left hip. Hold this position for a few minutes, before returning your legs behind you and repeating with the opposite side of your body.
This pose is a little trickier to get a handle on at first, partly because it is best executed when starting from another yoga pose, the cobra pose, so you’ll need to get a handle on that one first.
If you can’t reach the full length of this pose at first, we would suggest resting your arms on your knee or simply bringing your front leg as forward as you can manage.
However, when it comes to stretching your back and legs, the swan pose is a great way of working both, as well as stretching and opening up your hips.
Plus, you’ll also be able to start building out your yoga routine with it too, rather than just single moves and stances.
Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
Well, we did say that the Swan pose was best done when coming out of the cobra pose. So it only makes sense to include this one in this list too!
Outside of being a great springboard for other yoga poses and patterns, the cobra pose is a great way to release tension by stretching your back and hamstrings, as well as a great warm-up exercise.
You’ll start this pose lying on your stomach, with your toes pointed behind you, and your hands planted to your sides. From her, you’ll push off the mat or floor from your hands, raising your upper body, and puffing out your chest.
Once you’ve hit an apex that is stretching, but still manageable, you’ll hold the position for a few minutes at least, focusing on your breathing and airways in this position.
We recommend a minute or 2 for beginners, while more practiced yoga experts can hold this for up to 5. From here, you can choose to move on to something else like the swan pose or recline back into the starting position.
There are a few different versions of this pose. The low cobra lifts your head and upper body so that you are looking ahead of you, while the full or high cobra will push you much further, stretching your back and neck so that you’ll be looking at the ceiling.
We recommend trying both out, and seeing which works best for your yoga routine.
Twisted Dragon Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
The twisted dragon pose has an intimidating name, and it’s not unwarranted.
This pose will work plenty of different parts of your body, from your outer hips to your hamstrings, neck, adductors, and so much else. So, we recommend this challenging pose if you’re looking to push yourself!
You’ll start in the tabletop position, with your hands and knees firmly planted on the ground, supporting your upper body.
Then, you need to step your left foot out between your hands, then slide the right leg back, allowing your hips to drop a little. You can then move your left hand to push that left knee sideways.
Then drop the right arm down, so your whole forearm is supporting you on that side, rotate your chest upwards to the ceiling/sky, and hold for 3 to 4 minutes (5 if you’re feeling confident and ready to go further).
After that, you simply return to the tabletop position and repeat with the opposite side.
You’ll be on your knees a lot with this step, so we recommend placing a blanket underneath them if they will get uncomfortable supporting your weight.
Legs-Up-The-Wall (Viparita Karani)
As you’ll probably have started to notice, we recommend using props and support items for certain poses, especially if you aren’t confident in your ability to carry them out without them otherwise.
However, for this next pose, as the name will probably suggest, the wall isn’t just a suggestion. It’s pretty much a necessity!
Luckily, this one starts in the laying position, which may be a little more comfortable for some people.
Set yourself up near a wall, then raise your legs above it, so that your legs will rise above your head, and against a wall. Concentrate on your breathing for this exercise, so that you aren’t anxious about your balancing.
If you find that your back needs a little extra support, make sure that you have a blanket or pillow underneath it for that little bit of extra comfort!
So, there you have it!
One of the things that we love most about yoga is how pretty much anyone can try it out for themselves.
Whether you’re old or young, rich or poor, able, or even have mobility issues, these poses can be adapted to fit almost anyone’s situation. And all of them are great yin yoga poses for your exercise and spiritual needs.
So, which will you add to your next yoga session?
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