We all want to unwind after a long, busy, or stressful day at work or home or after accomplishing a specific goal that was draining us. Interestingly, yoga has numerous physical, spiritual, and emotional benefits with zero side effects and is appropriate for people of all ages. For instance, according to Hopkins Medicine, you get to relax by intuitively moving to stretch away tension and enjoy a goodnight’s sleep (1). There are various relaxing yoga poses that you should master to enjoy the practice and benefit the most from it.
Soothing yoga poses may be the solution for tranquility when you feel overwhelmed. Instead of engaging in unhealthy habits like overdrinking when stressed, try the relax and restore yoga poses perfect for beginners and seasoned practitioners. You may try these stretches before bed or any time of the day when feeling tense.
Simple Relax Yoga Poses You Should Try
- Building self-awareness
- Calming the mind and enhancing mood
- Helping you focus on the breath
- Putting you in the present moment thus taking you away from the stressful situation
- Relaxing the body (1)
- Releasing emotional energy
- Stretching your muscles and releasing tension
Here are some of the best calming and beginner-friendly relaxing yoga poses that are easy to follow.
Downward Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
The downward-facing dog is a full-body stretch that comes in handy, especially if you have been sitting at your desk all day long or in a car (1) It is one of the yoga poses that relaxes the neck and shoulders, among other parts of the body. The steps are (2):
- Start with your hands and knees. The hands should be shoulder-distance apart, and the knees placed under the hips with toes tucked.
- Breathe in, press evenly into your palms, and lift your knees off the surface.
- Lift your hips up and back as you lengthen the spine.
- Breathe out as you start to straighten the legs as much as you can, heels reaching toward the floor. If your legs are straight, raise your thigh muscles as you press into the floor with your feet.
- Raise your shoulders away from your ears, then flatten your shoulder blades on your back.
- Rotate your upper arms down towards the ground. Firm the outer hips in towards the center.
- Continue inhaling and exhaling as you hold the pose.
Triangle Pose (Trikonasana)
- Step your right foot widely to the inside of your right hand (about three and a half feet).
- Turn the left foot parallel with the back of your mat and straighten both legs. You may place the right hand on the floor on the outside of your foot, up on a block, or let it rest on your right shin, depending on what makes you comfortable.
- Move the left hand to your left hip and use it to gently open the hip prior to raising it toward the ceiling.
- Firm your thighs and make sure that the center of the right knee is in line with the center of the right ankle.
- Inhale and lift your arms out to the sides, shoulder height.
- Exhale and reach your right arm to the right, lengthening your torso directly over the right leg as you move your hips to the left.
- Rest your right hand on your shin, ankle, or the floor outside your right foot. Keep the sides of the torso long.
- Stretch your left arm toward the ceiling, in line with the tops of your shoulders. Turn your torso toward the ceiling to open the chest. Keep your head in a neutral position or turn it to the left, eyes gazing at the left thumb.
- Hold this position for about 5 breaths before stepping back to the downward-facing dog and repeating the triangle pose with the left foot forward.
Standing Wide-Legged Forward Fold Or Bend Pose (Prasarita Padottanasana)
This pose stretches the muscles in the back, hamstrings, glutes, and calves. It works on the lower body, strengthening the legs, core, and spine while relaxing and calming the mind (6). The steps involved are:
- Stand up tall.
- Walk your feet out wide, then turn your toes out slightly.
- Hinge at the hips and fold forward.
- Bring the hands to the mat directly under your shoulders.
- Soften your knees to release your head and neck.
- Slowly roll up to the standing position.
Seated Spinal Twist (Ardha Matsyendrasana)
This is one of the yoga poses to relax the spine. The steps involved are (5):
- Sit down on the floor, legs straight at the front and arms behind your back.
- Place your hands on the floor behind you with fingers facing away from you.
- Bring the right foot to the outside of your left thigh.
- Breathe in to lengthen or grow tall your spine.
- When you breathe out, twist to the right. For more traction, you may hug the right knee with your left elbow or bring your left elbow to the outside of your right knee.
- Stay for five breaths involving lengthening the spine on the inhales and twisting on the exhales.
- Switch the configuration of your legs to twist to the other side.
Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana)
Sphinx Pose is another example of appropriate yoga poses to relax the spine and lower back (8). It stretches the abdominal muscles, opens the shoulders and chest, and strengthens the spine. It also counteracts the forward slumping of a busy, long day spent sitting while working on the computer. The steps involved are (8):
- Lie flat on your stomach, and feet set hip-width apart.
- Put the elbows under your shoulders, legs together, and start lifting your chest with your chin pointing towards the ground.
- Draw the shoulders down your back, and firmly press the forearms down to keep your shoulders away from your ears.
- Look ahead and let your chin drop slightly.
- Breathe and hold the pose for 2-6 breaths
- Exhale, bringing the elbows to the sides and slowly lowering the chest and head to the ground.
Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandhasana Sarvangasana)
- Lying flat on a mat on your back, plant the feet flat with hips-width apart.
- Lift your hips to press down into your feet. The feet should be parallel to each other, and the knees should not point outward.
- With your body comfortable and supported, lift yourself with your stomach going towards the ceiling along with your back, hip, and thighs. Your chin and chest should be locked.
- You may keep your hands sideways or engage them in supporting your back or clasp them under your back and stretch.
- Breathe in while going up, hold, exhale while coming down. Breathe as usual if holding on to this position for long.
Forward Fold Pose (Uttanasana)
Uttanasana stretches the hamstrings and calves, resulting in numerous mental and physical benefits such as cooling the nervous system and relieving fatigue, tension, and mild depression symptoms. It releases muscle tension from thighs, hips, hamstrings, shoulders, neck, and head. The steps involved are:
- Stand tall with feet hip-width apart.
- Soften your knees as you slowly fold forward, trying not to touch the finger on the floor.
- Bring your hands to the opposite elbows.
- Permit your arms, neck, and head to be very heavy.
- Sway sideways to release tension in your low back.
- Continue to soften the knees and slightly shift your weight forward.
- Slowly roll up to standing.
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Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
The reclined bound angle pose is a restorative posture that stretches the inner thigh and opens the hips and heart. This relaxed yoga pose may soothe the whole body. Steps are:
- Lying flat on your back, bring the soles of the feet together to touch.
- Bend and drop the knees on either side to create a diamond shape.
- Put one hand near the heart and the other on your belly, then close your eyes. You may reach your arms overhead and let your right palm rest in your left hand.
- Breathe deeply.
You will feel your breath start to slow down and may deepen the inhale to originate in the lower abdomen. This results in the activation of the parasympathetic nervous system, bringing the brain and body back into a state of rest (7).
Legs Up The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
- Sit sideways, for example, with the left side against a wall, with legs straight out in front of you.
- Gently turn right and lift your legs to rest against the wall, ensuring that the back is on the ground and your sitting bones are close to the wall.
- Stay in this position for 5 to 15 minutes.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
Like Viparita Karani, Savasana relaxes the body and mind, therefore, helps in stress management, mindfulness, mental health, healthy eating, weight loss, and quality sleep (1). It is usually done to close a yoga session due to its restorative advantages. The steps involved are (1):
- Lie flat on your back.
- Gently stretch out your limbs away from the body, palms facing up.
- Try to clear your mind while breathing deeply.
- Stay in this position for 5 to 15 minutes.
You may place a pillow under the knees to alleviate tension in the lower back.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Mountain pose is done standing, but the impact of grounding the feet into the earth or floor results in an immediate calming effect. The steps involved are (4):
- Stand with feet approximately hip-width apart.
- Bend the knees slightly and then straighten them to help loosen your joints.
- Focus your concentration on a specific spot in front of you to avoid distractions, i.e., for mental awareness.
- Without hardening the lower belly, firm your thigh muscles and turn them slightly inwards as you lift your knee cap and strengthen the inner arches of your ankles.
- Lengthen your tailbone and picture a line of energy passing through your body.
- Going up, lift your chest up and out and push your shoulder blades back. You should widen your collarbones.
- Lift your head, elongating your neck, as you breathe deeply.
- Inhale and raise your toes gently. Try to balance your body on your heels as you stretch your arms, shoulders, and chest upwards.
- Hold this pose for about 5 to 10 seconds, and then gently breathe out.
Easy Sitting Pose (Sukhasana)
Sukhasana is a cross-legged, seated posture that helps you shift into a meditative state, resulting in stress reduction and happiness. Combined with equal ratio breathing, it activates the parasympathetic nervous system. It results in unwavering concentration, endurance, and stress reduction. The steps followed are:
- Breathe in for 5 seconds.
- Hold at the top for another 5 seconds.
- Exhale for 5 seconds.
- Hold at the bottom for 5.
- Repeat the breathing pattern for 5 minutes.
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Balasana is a beginner-friendly relaxing yoga pose that is great for stress relief. It quiets the brain and minimizes stress while releasing anxiety. It is also beneficial to the lymphatic and nervous systems. The steps involved are:
- Kneel on the yoga mat with legs placed together.
- Sit back on your heels.
- Bend forward towards the floor. Your chest should touch the thighs, and your forehead touches the ground.
- Allow your hands to rest on the side.
- Hold on to this posture for about 1 minute.
Other relaxing yoga poses include:
- Pigeon Pose
- Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
- Goddess Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
- Supta Padangusthasana I and II
- Garland Pose (Malasana)
- Melting heart pose or extended puppy pose (Anahatasana)
- Modified Child’s Pose
- Cow pose (Bitilasana)
- Cobra Pose (Bhujangasana)
- Extended Puppy Pose (Uttana Shishosana)
- Happy Baby Pose
- Cat Pose (Marjaryasana)
- Seated Forward Bend (Paschimottanasana)
- Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
- Plow Pose (Halasana)
- Camel pose (Ustrasana)
- Lotus Pose (Padmasana)
- Eye-of-the-Needle Pose (Sucirandhrasana)
- Reclined Eagle Pose (supta Parivrtta Garudasana)
- Bharadvaja’s Twist
- Lizard Pose (Utthan Pristhasana)
Alternatively, search for 5 bedtime yoga poses to relax and de-stress the handout with details on how to do the poses and links to relevant videos. The good news is that you can tailor-make these poses to variations that your body wants and can do.
The meditative and physical aspects of yoga are to relieve stress, strengthen and stretch the body, among other benefits. Try the relax yoga poses above to enjoy the peace and blow off some steam calmly after stressful or tiresome activities. Remember to consult your doctor and professional yoga instructor before starting any of the above poses. They can tailor-make the perfect stretches just for you, depending on your needs and health status.
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This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!
- 9 Benefits of Yoga (n.d., hopkinsmedicine.org)
- Downward-Facing Dog (n.d., nytimes.com)
- How to do the Bridge Pose: Steps and Benefits of Setu Bandhasana (2016, food.ndtv.com)
- How to Do Tadasana (Mountain Pose): Steps and Benefits (2016, food.ndtv.com)
- Seated spinal twist (2021, mayoclinic.org)
- Start Your Day With Prasarita Padottanasana – Watch Its Variations By Shilpa Shetty Kundra (2020, ndtv.com)
- The physiological effects of slow breathing in the healthy human (2017, ncbi.nlm.nih.gov)
- To Observe the Effect of Sphinx Pose (Salamba Bhujangasana) Among Health Care Providers With Chronic Low Back Pain (CLBP) (2021, clinicaltrials.gov)
- Triangle Pose (n.d., nytimes.com)
- Yoga for Sleep (n.d., hopkinsmedicine.org)
- Yoga: Fight stress and find serenity (2020, mayoclinic.org)