When it comes to working out I feel like lots of athletes, weekend warriors and professionals alike, like to spend most of their allotted fitness time on the exciting bits of exercise. We love the warm up, that first burn of muscles working, the first downward dog of yoga class, the tasty pre-workout shake that gives us that jolt of energy, and we love the flurry of activity that comes with that mountain biking excursion, a new PR in the weight room, or the rush of achievement that surrounds scoring a goal or making a touchdown. But if you're anything like me you want to ride that high for as long as you can, take a #fitfam selfie, and then pop into the shower to get on with your day.
But missing that cool down- the start of our recovery- isn't the best for our bodies. We need that space for our muscles and breath to calm down, re-fuel, and transition into the less active parts of our days.
What I love about yoga is that it is so multifaceted. You can use asana (poses) to warm up, get your sweat on, or to cool down and bring your body and breath back into equilibrium.
Three of my go-to poses are super simple and effective- even holding them for a few breaths each is greatly beneficial for your body, and its ability to start the healing process.
Child's Pose (Balasana)
Child's Pose is a restful pose- there is something so incredibly calming about folding into ourselves, hugging our body, and just being in the little womb like state of safety. Child's pose is great for a post-workout gentle hip opening stretch, and allows our bodies to slowly release the tension that comes with a workout.
Start by kneeling, big toes touching then sit back onto your feet. You can keep your legs underneath you or keeping your big toes touching widen your thighs to about hip's distance apart. Inhale to create length and nestle your body in between your legs. You can outstretch your arms in front of you or let them float back to rest beside your side bodies. For a wonderful stress relieving shoulder opener clasp them behind your back and let your hands drift off your back. Allow yourself to sink into the ground (or your mat) and deepen your breathing.
Supine Spinal Twist (Jathara Parivartanasana)
A spinal twist while lying on the floor is second nature to many of us, but the healing benefits exponentially increase when you focus on alignment. Not only is it a great stretch, an aligned twist helps detox the body, getting rid of some of that lactic acid buildup.
Lay comfortably on your mat, face up, legs extended long and arms palms down in a 'T' position to your sides. Keeping your shoulders and right arm planted fully into the ground, bend your right knee so that the sole of your foot is flat on the floor beside your left knee. Rotating your hips, let the right leg drift over your body, and reach your knee to the floor. It is okay if your knee doesn't touch! Shift your hips underneath you so that your left leg is in a continuous straight line with your torso. Use your left hand to add pressure to your right leg, deepening the stretch. Release, uncoil, and repeat on the opposite side.
Legs Up the Wall (Viparita Karani)
It doesn't seem like much, but 'legs up the wall' is one of my all-time favorite yoga poses. Not only does it help calm down the body and help the blood flow more freely towards the heart, it is great for relieving lower back and hamstring pain as well!
Rest comfortably with your back on your mat and simply scoot your hips next to a wall or other stable vertical surface (a tree comes to mind!) and place your legs against the wall. Adjust the position of your hips so you are in a place of comfort, and stay here from five to ten minutes. You can always place a blanket under your hips for a bit of cushion if you're practicing on a hard floor! Tight hamstrings? Scoot further away from the wall! We're looking for an inversion here rather than the legs being flush with your vertical surface.
Each of these poses allows your body to gently ease out of your very active state to a place of rest and healing. Following up your post-workout cool down with healthy food, and a rubdown can have you feeling ready to exert yourself in no time!
3 Simple Yoga Poses for Post-Workout Recovery
By Kait Welch
March 11, 2015
Blogger at Chickadeesays
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