5 Yoga Moves to Help You Recover Post-Workout
Pushing your body to its limits is exhilarating. Tracking your progress as you tone up, lean out and build strength over time is extremely rewarding. But even the toughest among us need recovery time to allow our muscles to repair, rebuild and strengthen.
Rest days and proper recovery are critical and can be the difference between a balanced body (and mind, for that matter) and one that’s overworked and starts rebel against even the tightest of training plans.
Try these five yoga poses to help your body recover and repair after a tough workout. These moves will help stretch the hamstrings, improve flexibility of the spine and open up the hip joints – all of which can enhance performance and prevent injury.
1. Cat-Cow Pose
- How To: (Cat Pose) Begin on all fours with knees aligned directly under your hips and your wrists slightly in front of your shoulders. Start with your head in a neutral position, gazing at the floor. Inhale; round your spine towards the sky and keep your shoulders and knees in position.
- How To: (Cow Pose) Allow the head to release down and tuck your chin slightly towards your chest. As you exhale, come back to neutral. Inhale and lift your sitting bones towards the sky as you drop your belly down. Lift your head and gaze forward. Exhale and come back to neutral. Repeat 10 to 15 times as you alternate between cow and cat pose. Remember to breathe deeply.
- Benefits: Cat pose stretches the back torso and neck. Cow pose stretches the front torso and neck. Both poses massage the spine, relieve stress and ground you.
2. Child’s Pose
- How To: Kneel on the floor, touch your big toes together, and sit on your heels. Separate your knees as wide as your hips and take a deep inhale. Exhale. Fold forward to rest your torso onto your inner thighs and place your forehead on the floor. Place your hands on the floor alongside your torso with the palms facing upward. Draw your tailbone down and relax the neck and shoulders towards the floor. Breathe deeply and stay here for 5 to 10 minutes.
- Benefits: Gently stretches the hips, thighs and ankles. Calms the brain, relieves stress and fatigue.
3. Bound Angle Pose
- How To: Sit with your legs straight out in front of you. If your hips or groin are tight, sit on a blanket. Bend your knees, bring the soles of your feet together and draw your heels in towards the pelvis as close as possible. Hold the sides of your feet and drop your knees out to the sides. Keep the outer edges of the feet firmly on the floor and open your feet up like a book. Tuck your chin toward your chest and breathe steadily. To take the pose deeper, exhale and lean forward as you draw the crown of your head towards your open feet. Allow the sitting bones to draw down. Breathe deeply and stay in pose for 5 to 15 minutes.
- Benefits: Stretches the inner thighs, groin and knees. Stimulates the heart and improves circulation. Helps reduce mild depression, anxiety and fatigue
4. Shavasana Pose
- How To: Lie down on the floor facing up. Release both extended legs to the side about hips-distance apart. Allow the feet to turn out equally and place both arms on the floor alongside your torso, palms facing up. Relax your tailbone down and away from your pelvis as you soften your lower back. Draw your shoulders down and away from your ears and keep your neck aligned. As you soften your body, relax the jaw and breathe normally. Rest here for 5 to 15 minutes.
- Benefits: Calms the brain and helps relieve stress and mild depression. Relaxes the body and reduces headaches, fatigue and insomnia; while also helping to lower blood pressure.
5. Downward Dog Pose
- How To: From your hands and knees, tuck your toes under and lift your hips up towards the sky. With your hands under the shoulders and feet under the hips, press down through the palms, spreading your fingers wide. Press the sitting bones up and the heels down towards the floor. Firmly press the shoulder blades down the back and keep the head aligned between the elbows. Take 8-12 breaths here.
- Benefits: The fountain of youth! This anti-aging mild inversion gets the blood flowing in the opposite direction which improves circulation and reduces stress.