8 yoga poses to relax and unwind

After a long day or week, the only thing that we need is to relax and unwind to feel calm and at peace. Several yoga poses, together with slow and deep breathing, can help us get rid of stress and feel relaxed. Today I will introduce 8 yoga poses to relax and unwind. These zen stretches are inspired by the slow and gentle practice of Yin Yoga.

I have asked my yogi amulet…

… and it gave me your (way too busy) daily schedule. Every morning, you try to enjoy as much sleep as possible, hurry in the shower, have a quick breakfast, and look after your kids/ cats/ dogs/ guinea pigs/ house plants. If you have a bit of time left, you look after yourself. Lucky you, the (not so) well-groomed 3-day stubble makes men look like hipsters and the tousled hairstyle is trendy among women. No need to shave your legs, you already did it last month. As many minutes saved to spend them on the pillow.

Then you rush through your workdays, meetings, and fake smiles. You are the king/ queen of the PowerPoint and of convoluted sentences (of course you know them, these sentences that sound smart but do not mean anything: “whatever we may say regarding the recent recess, I recommend to grasp the majority of our past choices because nature hates emptiness”). You come back home exhausted but you still have to take care of a lot of things, including feeding yourself, before collapsing on the couch to watch the latest episode of “Australian best talent”.

And the cycle repeats the next day. You however have the courage to sometimes attempt some physical activities (take the trash out) and/ or cultural ones (concert of Justin Bieber). CON-GRATS!

You already give 100% of yourself in everything that you do so you think that, frankly, you neither have the time nor the energy to practice yoga, especially when it implies potentially get a muscle sprain while putting your leg behind your neck.

Yoga to relax and unwind

Give me 36 minutes and 12 seconds of your time. This is how long my video of yoga to relax and unwind lasts. You can also find this video on YouTube. It has one goal: giving a bit of calm and peace to your body and mind. If you only have 5 minutes to spare, you will find below 8 yoga poses that you can practice whenever you want! That’s already a great effort to use this time to relax and de-stress. After this yoga class, I guarantee that you will feel lighter, calmer, freer in your body and in your mind. It will also improve your muscles and joints mobility!

The yoga poses do not require much or any effort. They are slow and gentle yoga poses. If you do not like some of them, just do not do them. The goal is not to bring unwanted stress to your day! The cherry on the cake, when performed regularly, these poses will help you get rid of the tensions stored in your body. Shall we give it a try?

Yoga to relax and unwind: 4 important criteria for guaranteed results

1st criteria: passive yoga poses to relax and unwind

I picked sitting and laying poses to allow a deep relaxation of the muscles. There is no effort to make, except letting your own body weight bring you to the pose. Postures are kept for quite a long time (about 2min) to allow you to relax and de-stress. While letting the tensions of the body go away, you let the tensions of the mind go away too. Pictures of the poses at the end of the article.

2nd criteria: kindness with your body (and your mind)

Put aside your competitive and ‘always do better’ mindset! The purpose here is not to push yourself. The goal is not to grab your toes by all means or to reach a level of flexibility that your body does not have yet. It is all the more important as your muscles (and hence your mind) will relax only if you are gentle and kind toward your body.

3rd criteria: a slow and deep breathing

The breathing, ideally abdominal (or “belly breath”), plays a role just as important as the stretching part. By activating your parasympathetic nervous system, abdominal breathing will help relax your muscles and feel calm and relaxed. Breath in, breath out, focus only on the air that flows in your body and on the sensations coming from the muscle stretches. Try as much as possible to set aside your thoughts, worries, and to-do list.

4th criteria: a quiet and relaxing environment

Soft music, enjoyable light, and smell, comfortable clothes in which you will not be cold, etc. Just let your creativity guide you and build your comfy cocoon where you will not be disturbed and where you can enjoy time for yourself. JUST. FOR. YOURSELF.

No time to watch the yoga video to relax and unwind? No problem!

Even if you only have 5 minutes to spare to relax, pick some of the below poses. Try to keep the poses for about 2 minutes each, breath, and empty your mind. Here is the sample of 8 yoga poses that you can practice at home to relax and de-stress. For some poses, I recommend using yoga blocs. If you do not have any, use pillows or cushions, which are a good and very comfortable second choice! For more poses, have a look at the class video.

1/ The butterfly

Sitting crossed-legged or with your feet in the butterfly pose (sole of your feet against each other), let your torso fall forward. Breath and relax your hip and back muscles.

Butterfly pose

2/ The seated head to knee

Sitting with your legs forward, let your chest fall forward. You can do the pose with one folded leg and then the other. Breath and relax your legs and back muscles. If the pose is too challenging, sit on a bloc or on pillows to elevate your buttock. You can also sit back against a wall with your legs straight. That’s also very good!

Head to knee pose

3/ The seated wide angle

Sitting with your legs open, let your torso fall forward. This pose can be quite challenging so do not hesitate to elevate your buttock by sitting on a block or a pillow, or even to rest your back against a wall. You can also let your head rest on blocks but it is not a necessity.

Seated wide angle pose

4/ The low lunge

Standing on your knees, bring your right foot forward and lower the hips. You can place a cushion below your knee if it is more comfortable and place your hands on the mat or on the blocks. Relax your hips (including the psoas, the “stress muscle”) and repeat the stretch with your other leg.

Low lunge pose

5/ The child

Sitting on your heels with your knees open lay down with your arms forward. This pose stretches the back muscles and increases hip mobility. It is a resting pose, so have a rest!

Child pose

6/ The fish

For this pose, you will need a yoga block or at least a cushion. Place the bloc flat and horizontal below your shoulder blades and lay down in it. Another version of the pose is to have the bloc vertical below the spine and between the shoulder blades. In both cases, this pose will open the rib cage and helps reoxygenate the body. If your head does not touch the floor, place a cushion below it so that it is more comfortable.

Supported fish pose (bloc vertical)

7/ Wind releasing

Laying on your back, squeeze one knee to your chest. This is a detox pose that also stretches the lower back muscles. Breath, hold the pose, then repeat it with your other leg.

Laying detox pose

8/ The laying twist

Laying down on your back, bring the right knee to the left side of the mat and open your right arm to a 90-degree angle. Look toward your right arm. You can do the pose with both knees bent if it makes it more comfortable. Breath and relax your back muscles!

Laying twist pose

Do you feel relaxed ?

When we spend our time giving 100% of ourselves, it is beneficial for the body and the mind to slow down, to allow ourselves not to reach perfection. Give the opportunity to your body to relax and hence, to your mind to let go of the tensions and frustrations. This slow and gentle sequence completely opened my chakras made me feel relaxed. How about you?

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