The first time you do these poses, it’s good not to stay in them for too long. One minute is enough. Later, you can extend the pose to five minutes or even longer.
1. Balasana – The Child’s Pose
If you have problems with the knee, perhaps this is not a good idea. But for everyone else this posture will relax your nervous system, back, shoulders, stomach and your mind.
If your rear end does not reach your heel, fold the blanket several times over and clip it under your ass so you can really let go. You can stretch your arms in front of you or let them relax on your side. Set the alarm clock to know when to leave the pose. While you are in the pose of a child, be sure to breathe deeply, especially in the back.
2. Supta Baddha Konasana – Beveled Angular Posture
Some call it the butterfly pose: lying on your back, raise your knees, connect your feet and gently release your knees to the sides.
Most of us can not lie in this pose. Our knees will be at least a few centimeters from the ground. Therefore, to relax, put a stack of books or a folded blanket or pillow under each knee. Let your hands run at your sides, too, relaxed. Breathe to the very bottom of the abdomen.
3. Rear Roller
Lying on your back, grasp your knees (or, if you can reach, completely around your shins, as shown in the picture). Gently rock from side to side. This is a great way to stretch and massage the lower back after a long day. Allow your legs and feet to completely relax. At the same time, let your shoulders melt to the ground – do not strain them, holding your knees. And, of course, to breathe deeply.
4. Sutta Matsyendrasana – The Recumbent Spinal Spiral
Lying on your back, lift your knees, and then let them fall to the right side. You can stabilize your legs by holding your left hip with your right hand. But at the same time, stretch your left hand to the left and gently turn your head to the left.
And here you want both shoulders to relax as much as possible in the ground. And yes, breathe! Then repeat the pose on the other side.
5. Matsyasana – Pisces Create
Lying on your back with your hands on the ground on the sides, lift your hands down – under the back. When you move them, start pressing all lower arms to the ground, bending your elbows. The effect is to gently lift the upper body up and open the chest.
You can raise your head if your throat and neck are uncomfortable, or gently lower your head back to the ground. Take five or ten deep breaths and then gently pull your hands out from under yourself. Lie down and enjoy the open sensations in your chest.
6. Kapotasana – The Blue Pose
This is a more difficult pose that you can save when you train others several times. Most people need a blanket, pillow or book to prop their place during this pose, so get ready first. Now, sitting cross-legged, place your palms on the ground in front of you and slide your weight forward from the rear end. Slide your left leg back until it extends, as shown. The back of the left foot should be pressed to the ground.
Open the chest forward, relax your shoulders and make sure that you place a thick-rolled blanket or pillow under the right side of your rear end so that you can completely release. This is both an intense stretch and a super-relaxing position.
Now, gently walk forward with your hands until the upper body is stretched over your bent right leg. Try to keep your back as straight as possible: it’s more important to keep the length in your back than to lean completely forward to the ground. Continue to breathe and release the head and shoulders, allowing you to stretch to stretch in your hips and groin.
In the beginning you should not stay more than one minute in Pigeon Pose, but later you can enjoy it for ten minutes. And then repeat the pose on the other side!
As innumerable people discovered, meditation is incredibly good for relaxing, leaving daytime stress, being in the moment and letting go. Cross your legs, sitting on the edge of a neatly folded blanket or a thick book. Pull the spine up and relax your shoulders at the same time.
It’s good to set the alarm for the amount of time you want to sit (one, five, ten minutes or longer!). Now start to breathe deeper. Focus on the sensation of breathing, and every time your mind wanders, just return to the air coming in and out.
If you are distracted by a particular subject or feel or experience, see if you can afford to be the same as you, even if it is upset, sad, angry or excited. For now, instead of being distracted by it, just “be” it. And go back to your breathing.
8. Paschimottanasana – Forward Bending
Sitting up, stretch your legs, and before you lean forward, sit very straight. Stretch the spine upward and as soon as your back lengthens, as it can get, lean forward.
If you want to focus more on your legs, you can “lean forward” with your back bent. But if you have any problems with your back or you want to include your whole body in a pose, then keep your back straight and just bend as far as you can, with a straight back. Even if it’s not 45 degrees, do not worry! Most people are not very flexible, and the depth of your straight bending does not matter.
Raise yourself up (to help keep your back straight) by placing your hands next to your hips or knees, depending on how far forward you can bend. And what else? You got this: breathe!
9. Parvvrta Suhasana – Sitting Spinal Cord
Sit with your legs crossed, place your right hand on your left knee and your left arm behind your left hip. Gently turn the upper body to the left. Continue to breathe (of course) and expand the spine even during rotation. Then repeat on the other side.
10. Viparita Karani – Feet Up The Wall
Find a free wall where there is enough space on the ground to lie down and lean your feet against the wall. Let your hands rest on your sides, and your shoulders will melt in the ground. Breathe into your chest.
If you are on the hard side, you may want to move slightly away from the wall for a softer tension. And for those who have problems with the lower back, you can try to pull up a blanket or pillow under the tailbone as support.
If you have always been skeptical about yoga, here is your chance: you do not need to go to a yoga studio filled with super-capable advanced yogis. You do not need to repeat anything or incense (although, of course, you can, if you want). Quietly, secretly, without telling anyone at all, you can try these poses to help with sleep problems, anxiety or stress, and just see what happens.
After all, it’s not just a new age guru who tells us that yoga is great, it’s real scientists. Many of them. And if any of these exercises works for you, be kind and share them with a friend!