Taking adequate time and effort to cool down after an invigorating yoga practice is essential. The body and mind both need to wind down, relax and reap the benefits of all the hard work put in the 15, 30, 60, or even 90 minutes of asana practice you choose to commit to.
The first thing that is emphasized on when ending a yoga class is breath. The intention is to gain control over breath by slowing it down deliberately—which in turn slows down the heart rate safely. Then through various stretches, we help our bodies improve joint flexibility, prevent soreness or muscle pulls, and regulate blood circulation.
Let’s take a look at three yoga asanas that are ideal for a 15-minute cool down session.
Benefits: Helps relieve tight hamstrings, massages the abdominal muscles, relaxes back muscles, and improves overall spine flexibility.
Step 1: Sit on your mat, legs stretched out in front of you. Bend your knees and bring them in as close as you can to your body.
Step 2: Now, wrap your arms around them. Keep the back rounded.
Step 3: Inhale and rock backwards on to your back.
Step 4: Exhale, kick forward to return to the original sitting position. Repeat 8 times. Relax in savasana (the corpse pose).
Supine Spinal Twist, Or Supta Matsyendrasana
Benefits: Stretches and massages the torso, abdomen, spine and glutes. The pose is great for relieving severe back pain.
Step 1: Lie down on your back, legs out straight. Now bend your right knee and place it over your left leg.
Step 2: Lightly press the right knee down to the floor if possible, with your left hand. If you experience any stiffness or pain, do not push it.
Step 3: Next, stretch your right arm out the right side; turn your head and gaze at your right hand.
Step 4: Relax your shoulders as you focus on your breath. Stay here for five long breaths. Repeat on other side.
Child’s Pose, Or Balasana
Benefits: Calms the mind, reduces stress, normalizes blood circulation, lengthens and stretches the spine, relaxes tension in the shoulders and neck, and gently stretches the knees, hips, thighs, and ankles.
Step 1: Sit in vajarasana, or kneeling down position. Knees should be placed together, sitting on your feet.
Step 2: Exhale as you lower your body down with control. Torso to thighs, forehead to floor. Relax your arms by your sides, palms facing upwards.
Step 3: If you want a deeper stretch, extend and stretch your arms over your head and palms facing down. Keep inching your way forward until you feel a strong stretch across your shoulder blades. Hold for 5-10 long breaths.
Make note that a cool down session is an integral part of your workout. It helps bring your body back to temperature, regulates your heart rate, and keeps your metabolism going, until long after you’ve stopped exercising.
Image Courtesy: LexiYoga; Shutterstock.com
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