You just rocked a cardio workout (or maybe some strength training), but you’re not quite done yet. The post workout cool down and stretching are just as important as the workout itself. Here are seven yoga postures that stretch your tired muscles, calm your mind, and if done regularly, can help increase flexibility and mobility.
1. Legs up the wall
This is hands-down my favorite post-workout yoga posture. Not only does it boost circulation to help you recover faster, this restorative posture can also quiet the mind. Lay on your back, shimmy your bum close to a wall and rest your legs straight up on the wall.
Another option: Lay on your back and place a yoga strap around the balls of your feet. Hold for up to 15 minutes.
2. Knee-to-chest stretch
Knee-to-chest stretch is a great all-around stretch for your hamstrings, glutes, and lower back. Lay on your back with your legs straight; bend one leg up toward your chest. Hug it close to your chest while pushing your back to the floor; hold for 20 seconds. Repeat on the other side.
3. Forward bend
This juicy stretch not only feels oh-so-good on the hamstrings, it also lengthens the spine. Fold forward and dangle your arms toward the floor, bending your legs as much as you need to.
Modification: Interlace your hands behind your back; as you bend forward, they’ll rise over your head.
4. Runner’s lunge
Runner’s lunge is another excellent hamstring, hip, and quad stretch. From a kneeling position, place one foot forward. Exhale as you lean forward into the lunge, keeping your back straight and core tight. Hold for one minute, and then repeat on the other side.
This posture targets your quads, shoulders, and neck. Lay on your back with your knees bent and feet flat on the floor near your butt. Clasp your hands under your pelvis, bringing your shoulder blades close together, and lift your hips off the floor. Hold for 30 seconds.
Plow pose is a great back stretch. Lay on your back and lift your legs toward the ceiling, placing your hands on your lower back for support. Keeping your legs straight, lower them toward your face while resting your arms flat on the floor. Hold for one minute.
And, on the flip side, sphinx is a great abdominal stretch. Lay on your stomach with your elbows under your shoulders. Slowly push up, so your forearms are resting on the floor. Hold for 30-60 seconds.