Yoga has many fantastic uses and benefits, not least of all helping you to relax! And, let's be honest, who among us couldn't do with a little bit more (or a lot more!) relaxation in their lives!?
When you allow yourself the time to practice yoga regularly, then you are helping yourself to unwind and de-stress. You are giving your body the chance to stretch and release the physical tension that builds up during each day, and you are giving your mind a moment to expel negativity and hit the reset button.
If you already practice yoga then your main reason for doing so might not be to find peace and to relax. You may be more concerned with improving your flexibility, increasing your strength, or you simply may enjoy the sense of community that you get from going to your yoga class.
If you are new to yoga then starting with the more relaxing poses as you build upon your skills and knowledge can be a great idea. This will help to ease you into your practice without initially expecting too much of your body.
The following yoga poses are amazing choices for calming your mind, and they are also simple enough that even if you have never done yoga before, that you can still give them a go!
Legs Up The Wall
I can't get enough of this pose and I am sure that you are going to love it too! I find that this is a really great way to wind down in the evening. You can even read a book or listen to music whilst you are holding this pose in order to further enhance the relaxing benefits.
To get into Legs Up The Wall you can begin by sitting with the left side of your body against a wall. Slowly turn your body to bring your legs up the wall. Be sure to use your hands and arms to balance yourself as you do this. Bring your head, shoulders, and back down to the ground so that your back is flat and your shoulders and head are in contact with the floor.
Shift your body as close to the wall as is comfortably possible and then rest your arms at your sides with your palms facing up. Relax your pelvis and close your eyes as you breathe deeply in and out.
When you are ready to exit the pose then push your body gently away from the wall and slide your legs down to one side.
You may choose to position a folded blanket or small pillow under your hips whilst you are holding this pose.
Legs Up The Wall can help the body with the circulation of lymphatic fluid away from the lower body. When this fluid builds up in the legs then it can be responsible for swelling of the ankles and tired knees. Other benefits of holding this pose regularly are believed to be increased energy, relief from lower back pain, and also relief from headaches and menstrual aches.
This is an incredibly gentle way to enter a deep state of relaxation, and you can work up to holding the pose for longer periods of time as you progress.
Standing Forward Fold
Similarly to Legs Up The Wall, the simple Standing Forward Fold is an easy pose that has countless benefits – both for your body and your mind.
To do this pose you must begin by standing tall with your feet hip-distance apart. Your arms will be resting down by your sides. This beginning stance is also known as Mountain Pose. Bring your hands to rest on your hips and then bend forward at the hips to extend the torso forwards.
Bend your elbows so that you can hold onto either elbow with the hand of the opposite arm and allow the crown of your head to hang down towards the floor. Push your heels gently down into the ground whilst lifting your hips up slightly towards the sky. At this point the tops of your thighs should be turned slightly inwards, but your knees should not be locked.
Hold your body in this pose as you breathe deeply in and out, and consciously stretch deeper into the pose with each exhalation if it feels comfortable to do so.
When you feel ready to exit the pose, slowly lift the torso up and return to Mountain Pose.
Standing Forward Fold can help to stimulate the function of the liver and the kidneys, as well as helping to enhance digestion and relieving typical symptoms of the menopause. If you have tight hamstrings, hips, or calves, then this is a great choice for you as it will help to stretch out all of these areas.
There are several different types of backbends that you can do in yoga. Many poses call for the body to be moved in this way, and the relief that you feel in your back (and entire body) can actually be instant!
Today I want to look at Standing Backbend in particular, as this is a simple pose that is good for both beginners and more experienced yogis. Always make sure that you are already warmed up before attempting this pose!
Begin in Mountain Pose and then bring the arms up overhead and bring your palms together.
Next, bring the hips forward gently as you open the chest upwards and begin to bend your back. Once you have bent the back as far as is comfortable, then hold your body here for a few deep breaths in and out. You can then return to Mountain Pose.
Below you can see me getting into a seriously deep backbend, and although it may look simple to do, this has taken me many years of practice to safely reach this point.
There is absolutely no need to go this deep into a backbend in order to practice the pose and to enjoy the benefits of doing so.
This pose is an incredible choice for releasing tension in the neck and shoulders. Additionally, backbends help to open up the hip flexors, shoulders, and chest, whilst also strengthening the muscles of the arms, back and legs.
Being able to overcome the sources of stress in your life can go a long way to helping you to invite more peace and relaxation in! This is something that I aim to help you do each and every week with my Get Inspired Newsletter!
This weekly dose of inspiration will come straight to your inbox to motivate you to say NO to stress and YES to happiness! Click here now to sign up and immediately receive my Top Ten Tried and Tested Methods to Keep Stress and Anxiety Away!