Yoga has increasingly become a popular way to exercise both the body and mind. Yoga has a number of health benefits: it improves balance and flexibility, it leads to a reduction in stress and anxiety, and it can help with anything from chronic pain to insomnia. It can even help lower your risk of heart problems. Yoga can help you de-stress, which is the key to success at work. Yogic breathing, or pranayama, is a useful tool to calm down in chaotic situations. Yoga is accessible to everyone. Check out the following ten poses to practice to let go of any remaining tension from the work day and to get ready for a relaxing evening ahead. All you need is a quiet place at home and a wall. Using a yoga mat is optional; you can also use a towel or blanket instead of a mat.
See more: How Yoga Can Help Your Career
1. Child's Pose
The Child’s Pose, or balasana, is a simple resting pose often found at the beginning, middle or end of any yoga class.
To get into the pose, kneel with your knees together or apart. If your back is sore, keep your knees apart. Lower your forehead down onto the floor or mat, if using one, and stretch your arms out in front of you, with your palms resting down. Breathe. Breathing is the most important aspect here, as the pose is meant to quiet the mind and signal a slowing down.
The benefits of this pose include stretching your hips, back and spine, and relieving tension in the neck. This is particularly significant for stress relief. When we are stressed, we spend all day hunched over a computer, with our shoulders up in an uncomfortable, tense position. Spending anywhere from half a minute to several minutes in the Child’s Pose will allow you to focus on your breathing and ease into the next nine poses.
2. Cat-Cow Pose
Usually done together, Cat Pose, or Marjaryasana, and Cow Pose, or Bitilasana, are a great way to stretch if you have been sitting all day or for several hours.
Kneel with your hands under your shoulders and your knees under your hips. To get into Cat Pose, inhale and move your spine up until it is approaching a curved position, as if your back was arched the way a cat stretches its own back. Exhale and move into Cow Pose, dropping your stomach down and lifting your head and neck up towards the ceiling. Move back and forth between the two several times.
3. Downward Dog
This classic yoga move is another good pose as it stretches the entire body. Much like Child’s Pose, it is considered a resting pose.
To get into Downward Dog, or adho mukha svanasana, move your body until it resembles the letter V: place your hands down on the floor or mat and move your hips up toward the ceiling. Press your hands down so there is more pressure on your hands than your shoulders. Breathe.
Downward Dog will improve your whole body’s circulation.
To get into this pose, also called Badhakonasana, sit on the floor or yoga mat with the soles of your feet touching. This is a great stretch for the hips. Lean forward any amount – as with any yoga pose, the more you practice, the more flexible you will become, but the amount you can forward fold isn’t important. You will reap the benefits of the pose no matter what. This pose is particularly beneficial after sitting for a long time, so it’s a good way to de-stress after a long work day.
5. Pigeon Pose
Pigeon Pose is one of many yoga poses that are considered hip openers.
The easiest way to come into the pose is to kneel and move the left knee forward until it is horizontal. Move the right knee back so it is straight. Press your hands down onto the floor and breathe in deeply for a few moments, then fold forward. Some people like to lean their elbows down on the floor and rest their head on top of their hands. Repeat on the other side with the left leg back and the right knee forward.
Too much sitting can cause problems with the hips and spine so hip openers are especially helpful after those long days of sitting at the computer or in meetings.
6. Easy Pose
Easy Pose, or Sukhasana, is just as the name suggests – a very simple pose. Sit cross-legged with your feet under your legs, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Since yoga is about calming the mind just as much as it is about stretching the body, this pose is particularly useful for letting go of work-related stress. Stay here as long as you feel the need.
This is a meditative pose which has many benefits: meditation can help with focusing on the present moment and letting go of anxiety about the future, and can even serve as a coping mechanism for illness.
7. Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Also called Supta Baddha Konasana, this pose is easy to get into: lie on your back and move your legs so the soles of your feet are touching. Move your hands out, palms down to the side of your body, and close your eyes. Another great stress reliever.
8. Happy Baby
The name for Happy Baby, or Ananda Balasana, comes from the fact that babies naturally do this pose without even thinking.
Stay lying down and move your legs up so you can hold onto the inside of your feet with each hand. Open your knees and try to bring them close to your armpits – it’s okay if they don’t make it very far. You can choose to stay here or rock slowly back and forth, which will help with any soreness in the back.
9. Legs Up the Wall
A classic restorative yoga pose, a form of yoga which involves a series of stretches and poses rather than a moving workout, Legs Up the Wall is a great pose to do at the end of the day. Also called Viparita Karani, which means "inverted action", this pose is an inversion which means that your body is going upside down. While that may sound scary, however, this is an accessible pose that needs nothing more than a wall.
To get into the pose, curl up on one side so your hips are leaning against the wall. Then move over until your hips are close to the wall and your legs can easily stretch out above you on the wall. Leave your arms either on your stomach, which will help calm you down so you can focus on your breathing, or stretch them out on either side of your body.
Legs Up the Wall is a powerful pose. It can ease high and low blood pressure, headaches, anxiety, sore muscles, and insomnia.
10. Corpse Pose
The Corpse Pose, also called Savasana, is the classic way to end a yoga practice. Any yoga class will end this way. Although it may look simple, this is actually the most difficult pose, as it involves staying completely still and trying to quiet the mind, which can be hard to do after a busy day or if you have a lot on your mind.
To get into the pose, simply lie down with your legs apart and your arms on either side of your body, palms down. Close your eyes, focus on your breathing, and try to calm your thoughts. This pose is not about not thinking – that would be impossible – but about getting to a place of calm and stillness. Accept any thoughts that come up.
Yoga is a great way to ease tension after a long work day, but it can be hard to find time to go to a class. These ten relaxing after-work yoga poses are an easy and accessible way to fit some yoga into your busy schedule. Practice them as little or as often as you need. Even just putting your legs up the wall every night before bed can be a useful way to de-stress and calm the mind. Yoga has been proven to assist with the treatment of a number of problems from trouble sleeping to depression. Try these ten yoga poses tonight and repeat the body and mind benefits, which will only help you face a successful, productive, and stress-free work day tomorrow.