Sometimes, after you’ve had a good run and feel like all your batteries are depleted, all you want to do is just fall into a chair and catch your breath. However tempting it might seem at the time, it isn’t a good idea and can actually do more harm than good.
Both cardio and strength training workouts require a cooling down at the end, which involves mainly stretching the muscles that have been worked. Stretching keeps you nice and flexible, preventing cramps and any kind of pain or injury post workout.
Top 10 Yoga Cool Down Poses
Yoga offers stretching of the best kind that not only cools the body down, but also calms the mind. Here is a list of the 10 most relaxing and effective cool down yoga poses. While you can do any of the poses described, it is recommended to begin with the mountain pose and end in the corpse pose.
1. Tadasana (Mountain Pose):
This is the most basic standing pose, the starting pose for most of the other poses. It will help ease any leftover breathlessness from your workout and get your body ready for the cool down.
- Stand with feet slightly apart, feeling them rooting into the ground.
- Keep your arms loosely by your side, but without slouching your shoulders.
- Keep your back straight with a natural curve in the lower back.
- Tuck in your stomach and lift your chest a little.
- Keep the head relaxed, imagining it to be a balloon on top of your neck.
- Take deep breaths and centre yourself.
2. Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose):
This is a great pose for a complete body stretch. Adho Mukha Svanasana can be modified to make it easier for beginners by bending the knees a little.
- Stand on all fours, with the underside of your toes and your palms flat on the floor, back parallel to the floor.
- Keep your knees right under your hips and your wrists right under your shoulders.
- Push on your toes and palms to lift your hips high. You will now be in an inverted ‘V’ shape.
- Exhale. Keep the right knee bent as you straighten the left leg and push the left foot flat on the floor. Take a few breaths to do this.
- Adjust the position of your toes while you straighten your right leg too. Push your hips even higher to ensure that your heels are on the floor. Keep looking in between your toes as you do this.
- Breathe deeply and go deeper into the pose with each exhalation.
3. Virabhadrasana (Warrior 1 Pose):
- Stand with feet twice shoulder width apart.
- Turn the left foot inwards about 45 degrees.
- Turn the right foot outwards 90 degrees, and turn your torso and head towards the right.
- Take a few breaths to soften and adjust your hips, so that they are turned towards the right as well. Bend your right knee 90 degrees.
- Pivot your left foot so that it is now on its toes.
- Sweep your arms all the way to the top, palms touching.
- Stretch your back and shoulders as you turn your head skyward, looking at your hands.
- Come back to starting pose slowly and repeat on the other side.
4. Eka Pada Rajakapotasana (Pigeon Pose):
- Kneel on the ground. Stretch your right leg completely, ensuring that you are lying on your thigh and knee with toes pointed.
- At the same time, fold your left leg is such a way that your left heel is near the right hip.
- Place your hands on the floor for support.
- Adjust your hips so that they are upright and your shoulders are relaxed.
- Take deep breaths in this pose and feel the stretch in your groin, leg and lower back.
5. Marjariasana – Bitilasana (Cat Cow Pose):
This combination of the Cat and Cow poses is great for keeping your breath constant and provides a truly superb stretch for the spine. A great yoga cool down sequence!
- Kneel on all fours, with your hips right above your knees and your wrists right beneath your shoulders. Keep your back parallel to the floor.
- Cow – Inhale and look up, curving your spine downwards. Be sure to keep your palms and the tops of your feet planted and your shoulders down.
- Cat – Exhale and tuck your hips under, arching your back. Try to arch your lower as well as upper back for a good stretch. Put your head down and press your palms into the ground.
- Hold each pose for at least 20 seconds. Repeat at least 6 times .
6. Supta Matsyendrasana (Supine Spinal Twist):
- Lie on the floor with legs stretched out.
- Bend the right knee across the left leg. Use the left hand to gently push the right knee down to the floor.
- Extend the right arm out to the right side and turn your head to look at the right hand.
- Feel the stretch in your torso, there should not be any strain on the shoulders.
- Breathe deeply for a deeper stretch in your spine.
7. Setu Bandhasana (Bridge Pose):
- Lie on the floor with knees bent and heels as close to the buttocks as possible, arms by your side.
- Pushing off from your arms and feet, lift your hips high, squeezing your buttocks. Add some support under your hips if this is too hard.
- Keep your knees over your ankles and clasp your hands on the floor under your hips.
- Hold the position for about 30 seconds and release by slowly lowering your body on the floor.
8. Baddha Konasana (Butterfly Pose):
This pose is probably the best one to open up the groin and pelvis. It is good for people with a tendency to have sciatica after intensive exercise.
- Sit on the floor with back straight and legs stretched out, arms by your side.
- Bend your knees and bring your heels close to your pelvis.
- Fold your legs out on either side, touching your soles together.
- Breathe deeply and with every exhalation, bring your heels closer to your groin. Keep your back erect and gaze straight ahead.
9. Balasana (Child Pose):
- Kneel on the floor with your knees together and your buttocks resting on your heels. Keep your back straight.
- Exhale and bend forward so that your forehead touches the floor. Keep your buttocks on your heels.
- Either put your arms on the floor far ahead of your head, so that your elbows are off the floor or rest them by the sides of your feet, palms facing up.
10. Savasana (Corpse Pose):
The ultimate relaxation pose, be sure to end your practice with this one.
- Lie down on your back, arms and legs by your side in a natural, relaxed position, approximately 45 degrees away from your body.
- Pull your shoulders down, and relax your back.
- Relax your entire body, part by part, starting from the extremities, moving to the arms, legs and then your torso and finally neck and head.
- Relax the features of your face; leave your mouth slightly open, your eyes shut.
- Breathe deeply and consciously. Stay this way for 5-10 minutes.
Yoga is known to be restorative since it restores balance to your tired and worked out body parts and regularizes your blood circulation. Since yoga also works on calming the mind, you are sure to feel completely refreshed and re-energized after these yoga cool down poses. Intense workout + cooling yoga = overall well being!
Does your workout routine include a cooling down period? Which exercises to you use to cool down? Do share with us in the comments section below!