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Five relaxing and stretching yoga poses & their benefits

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I had my first proper yoga lesson in Bali in 2016. Since then I’ve attended many different classes around the world and practiced yoga at home. During the past few years I’ve found a few poses that help me to center and connect with myself. To be present in the moment without any interruptions from everdays’ hectic life or a busy brain. Namaste.

When people think of yoga, they think of being flexible and being able to stretch. But Yoga is so much more than that. It’s not a passive but an active process. You improve your sense of body awareness. You learn to calm your mind and help yourself to relax. You learn deep breathing which has a positive effect on your body’s rest and digest part of the nervous system. And there are many more benefits that come with practicing yoga.

With the following poses I get a calm state of mind. Sometimes it only lasts for a few seconds or minutes, depending on the day. It does get better with practice though. And even only reaching this state of mind for a few seconds is precious.
I usually do yoga after my workouts, two or three times a week. Or just randomly when I feel stressed or want to connect with myself. I’m definitely not a professional and have to learn a lot more myself. Therefore, if you’re new to yoga, I highly recommend attending yoga classes and learn about the whole concept. Also check if you have any injuries and to do the poses right, to not hurt yourself.

Always remember: Deep breathing is really important while doing these poses

Pigeon

Many people carry tension in their hips. It not only comes from sitting in the office all day but also from stress. Stress creates tension, especially in the hip area. The stress needs to be released. Running or walking does help with hip strength, but not flexibility. Therefore the stress can’t be released properly. And this is where the pigeon pose (Kapotasana) comes into play. It’s a great hip opener. To name some physical and emotional benefits:

Releases built up stress, trauma, fear, anxiety
Opens the hips, hamstrings, lengthens the hip flexor, stretches the thighs
Alleviates pressure on the lower back
Stimulates the nervous system as the spine gets a slight band
Stimulates the internal organs

If you want to know how to do the pigeon, click here.

pigeon pose
Pigeon
garlands pose
Garlands

Garlands

Many of us sit in chairs, beds or cars all day long. Have you ever noticed that your body is set in a 90-degree-angle? Our ancestors didn’t – for them squatting used to be an ordinary posture. We however, will lose the mobility in our hips and back. Which might bring help problems later in life. With the Garlands (Malasana) pose, we can maintain our joints for long-term use. Benefits:

Tones your abs, opens your hips, stretches your ankles, lower hamstrings, back and neck
Strengthens your metabolism and stimulates digestive organs
Maintains a straight spine with shoulders pulled back into their proper position

Fun fact: We were all able to do this pose in our lives. When we were toddlers. So I’m sure you’ll be able to squat again. This video shows how you do the Garland Pose.

Supine / reclined twist

Twists are great to decompress and squeeze out the stress of your day. To release tensions, especially in your lower back. You can compare it with wringing out a sponge. And when you release, fresh blood, oxygen and nutrients rush back into your whole system. With the supine twist (Supta Matsyendrasana) you can restore your balance.

Increases back, hips, ribs, upper back and shoulder flexibility
Quiets the nervous system
Digestive support (expels wastes, moves food and waste)

Get on your mat and try! It’s better than a massage.

supine twist pose
Supine twist
reclining bound angle pose
Reclining bound angle

Reclining bound angle

The reclining bound angle pose (Supta Baddha Konasana) is another pose where you lie on your mat. It’s great to release stress in your hips and therefore relieve symptoms of mild depression or also menstruation. Another restorative pose that relaxes your mind, body and spirit.

Lowers blood pressure, decreases heart rate
Reduces nervous tension and stress, also anxiety and panic attacks
Decreases muscle tension
Opens the chest to allow deeper breathing and improved oxygen flow

Try it out.

Corpse pose

Last but not least there is the famous corpse pose (Savasana), which usually is the final pose of any yoga class. It looks easy – but lying on the floor and being fully conscious and aware at the same time takes practice. Not to mention the mental chatter. And no, you’re not supposed to fall asleep.

Helps you to fully relax your body and mind
Lowered blood pressure, decreased heart rate
Decreases muscle tension
Reduces nervous tension, anxiety

And this shows how you do the final relaxation pose.

shavasanap pose
Shavasana

Here they are, my five favorite relaxing yoga poses. While I was writing this blogpost I realized that all of these postures release stress and tension. And I guess this is why I like doing yoga so much. I think we barely realize in our daily lifes how much stress and thoughts can create tension in our joints. And although we are fine now, this can have an effect on our health when we’re older. I can highly encourage you to make these poses part of your life. It’s a massage for your body and mind.

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