When we think about yoga we most often think about complex movement and poses that require considerable flexibility and strength. Relaxation as an aspect of yoga often gets a overlooked, though it perhaps is equally important, especially when you associate relaxation with the later stages of yoga associated with meditation.

We all need to pause and check ourselves from time to time. This is in fact why this website was created, to help you pause more often and actually bring your awareness to what’s exactly happening internally and externally. Yoga is a healthy and effective way of reaching deep relaxation of the body, mind and soul, starting from the body.

Here are four simple but effective exercises that help your body and mind to unwind. These exercises (asanas) can be performed just about anywhere you have a flat surface with some padding, i.e. at home, at the gym or why not out at the park surrounded by nature.

Try to take it slow, don’t rush through the exercises. Try maintaing the position for at least three minutes each to really get the most out of these exercises.

Asana 1: Butterfly Pose – Badhakonasana

The first simple and relaxing exercise we have for you is the Butterfly Pose also known as badhakonasana. This is a very beginner friendly asana and the benefits are many and varied, most notably its capacity to provide a good stretch to the inner thighs, groin area and knees while also optimizing intestine and bowel movement. For women, the added benefit of relief from menstrual discomfort and symptoms of menopause is another plus.

Here’s how you do it

Young attractive sporty yogi woman practicing yoga concept, sitting in baddha konasana exercise, Butterfly pose, working out wearing sportswear bra and pants, full length, white loft studio background

  1. Sit up with an erect spine.
  2. Bend your knees and bring your feet towards your pelvis.
  3. Place the soles of your feet against each other
  4. Grab your feet infront of you tightly. For added support and leverage place your hands underneath your feet.
  5. Try to keep the heels of your feet as close to your genitals and pelvis as possible without sacrificing optimal posture.
  6. Now take a deep breath.
  7. Then exhale and slowly fold your body forward. You can rest your elbows against your calves and tilt your forehead against your thumbs.
  8. If maintaining the folded butterfly pose becomes to strenous, go back to an seated/upright butterfly position and redo steps 6-7 when you feel ready.

Nighttime goddess yoga stretch

A variation of the butterfly pose, also known as the nighttime goddess stretch (as seen above) can be done where you lie down while you slightly loosen the tightness of butterfly position from the hips down.

Asana 2: Seated Forward Bend – Paschimottanasana

This asana, the seated forward bend, is great for opening up your hips and unburdening the legs from tension due to past exercise, like a run or an intense walk. It is one of the more relaxing and calming poses because of its simplicity and the added focus of correct breathing. Thus this asana is good for relieving stress, anxiety and improving overall moods.

Here’s how you do it

Woman pose yoga seated forward bend Paschimottanasana

  1. Begin by sitting in the staff pose (dandasana) in which you maintain an upright posture and spine with your legs straight in front of your body.
  2. Bring your hands to your sides and
  3. Inhale, while simultaneosusly straightening, lengthening and stretching your spine.
  4. Then exhale and fold the body forwards from the hip down.
  5. Don’t force the forward fold, do it gradually, i.e. with each exhale move a little bit more forward.
  6. Try to keep your neck straight and in alignment with your spine.
  7. If you’ve got the flexibility to reach and hold your feet while maintaing a straight spine, do that.

Woman yoga pose seated forward bend assisted with a strap

If you’re not sufficiently flexible when it comes to performing the forward bend, consider using a strap around your feet in which you pull yourself forward to the appropriate or desired angle.

Asana 3: Melting Heart – Anahatasana

anahatasana-melting-heart-yoga-pose

Our third relaxing asana is the Melting Heart asana, also known as anahatasana. The main benefit of this exercise is that can improve your everyday posture by opening the shoulders and upperback. Another benefit of this asana is that it can create extra room for the organs to move about more freely, at least for a little while.

Here’s how you do it

  1. Stand on all fours with your knees hip-width apart and your arms shoulder-width apart.
  2. Extend your hands and place your forehead against the mat. Visualize that your heart is gracefully melting down to the floor beneath you.
  3. When you’re done with this pose you simply bring your hips down to your heels into the Child’s Pose.

Full Body Side View of a Young Woman in Yoga Position Cobra on White Background.

Transitioning from the melting heart pose to the equally simple yet relaxing cobra pose, as seen above, is a smart technique to employ to get the most out of your relaxing yinyoga session.

Asana 4: Child’s Pose – Balasana

Woman childs pose

The last of the simple yet relaxing exercises is the just mentioned Child’s Pose, also known as balasana. Being one of the simplest poses in yoga, this is a good pose for getting in a gentle stretch of the hips, thighs and ankles. However, the best effect of the child’s pose is its relaxing effects, where the mind seems to slow down to such levels where your stress levels gradually dissipate into thin air. This pose is also good for relieving back pain, especially lower back caused by a herniated disc.

Here’s how you do it

  1. Get down on your knees on the floor or mat.
  2. Let your feet and toes make contact and sit gently down on your heels.
  3. You can either let your knees come together or you can spread them out to the width of the mat. Generally a wide child’s pose is the more gentle and rejuvenating option while the knees close together is good for an extra stretch of the back.
  4. When you’ve chosen your angle, exhale and fold your body forward.
  5. Place your forehead or third eye to the floor beneath your.
  6. Notice how the back widens and relaxes, almost as it if it’s giving of a sigh, especially the lower back.
  7. Maintain the pose for at least 3 minutes.
Be gentle with the child’s pose If you’re dealing with bad knees. Go slow and don’t maintain the pose for more than what your body tells you is enough.

Conclusion

The physical asanas of yoga doesn’t have to be complex and extremely challenging. Like many things in life, the best benefits are often found in the basics, yoga is no exception.

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