10 Yoga Poses to Leave You Feeling Refreshed & Relaxed
In this day and age, most people are aware of the benefits that yoga offers. Not only does it help our body physically, but it does wonders mentally. The experience that one goes through by maintaining a habitual practice will be able to take learning’s from their mat into their daily lives. It’s important to know why you do yoga and understand the benefits that come with it!
In no particular order, listed below are my top 10 poses that I believe will leave you feeling refreshed and relaxed!
#1. Sun Salutations
Sun salutations are my favorite. If you watch the movement of them you would understand why. To me they are both refreshing… and relaxing. When I first started practicing I wasn’t a fan, I had a mentality of wanting to move through them quickly. A sun salutation consists of standing in tadasana and raising arms to the ceiling, diving towards the mat with a bend in your knees, inhaling to a flat back and exhaling moving through a vinyasa. It’s meant to circulate your blood and give yourself a full body stretch while creating internal heat. Especially when you do 108 of them… Calgary every year in August hosts an event where we gather on one main block downtown, and go through 108 sun salutations as group. I think it took around 3-4 hours…. Imagine how refreshed and “relaxed” we were feeling after that 😉 Sun salutations are a great quick sequence to do in the morning before waking up. It is a movement that praises the sun. 5-10 minutes of doing slow repetitive sun salutations makes for no better way to start your morning.
#2. Low Lunge
Represents strength, and stretch all in one. Squeezing your inner thighs together to support your upper torso leaves you feeling recharged and heated. I like to move slow and hold warriors for a longer amount of time and transitioning just as slowly. The deeper your breath in these postures the more powerfully they become and you feel.
#3. Legs Up the Wall
Honestly one of my favorite things to do…. You can do it anywhere, anytime. Blood pools at the feet naturally, and there is no better way to recirculate it back to your heart. Excellent stretch if you have poor circulation. If there is enough wall space I like to put my students through savasana in this pose because I KNOW people normally would not take their legs up the wall unless they are in a yoga setting. “Stick em up”!
#4. Inverted Poses
These poses are headstands, shoulder stands, handstands… anything that gets your head below your heart- even a forward fold. When you stand up to fast and get dizzy … that is an inversion. Same reason as legs up the wall, it’s a great way to recirculate blood in your body- almost given yourself a body high from tipping your self up side down. These poses are to be practiced safely and with supervision if it is something new. After all, inverting our bodies is not a normal position to put ourselves.
#5. Downward Dog
Downward dog is NOT intended to be a calf-stretching asana. The reasoning for downward dog is to reset the spine. Pushing into the hands, driving up into the shoulders and tilted your pelvis up towards the ceiling. This will cause you to bend your knees, sinking your stomach towards your thighs. This creates a natural curvature for your spine. There are also many great assists with this pose to do with a partner to sink further in.
#6. Twisting Poses
These are great for digestion- specifically supine twist is my all time favorite (especially when your back cracks). Laying on your back, bringing both knees to your chest and dropping knees to left or right, taking opposite shoulder to the mat and giving yourself a fully body wring out. Quite litterly squeezing your insides releasing toxins J
#7. Childs Pose
Almost a mini inversion. Childs pose is an asana that releases tension. Putting pressure on the forehead and rolling from temple to temple is an amazing remedy to calm the central nervous system. Stretching the fingertips to the top of the matt pulling through the side body creates also a great stretch from hips to your hands. Also considered a resting pose during set sequences. Childs pose is available to anyone, props can go between the forehead and the matt, as well as under the bum to the heels to create a more restorative child’s pose.
#8. Bridge Pose
Great for strengthening the lower back and glutes. Also a slight inversion as you inhale lift the hips and bring the chest towards the chin. You can interlace your hands underneath your back, bringing your chest further up, creating an increase in a backbend and strength.
#9. Hip Stretches
These are poses such as lizard or pigeon. A lot of people hold tension in their hips so this is a great example of a perfect stretch to start to release and dig into the memories that are stored in the toughest part of your body. Most yin or hatha classes will take you into a hip stretch pose for 1-5 minutes
This the hardest pose of them all… laying there in complete stillness. Observing the breath moving in and out. The entire focus of a yoga practice is for the pose savasana. The asana’s performed are done to release energy blockages in order to enter a state of nirvana overtime. This idea stems from the lineage of Kundalini Yoga.