6 Yoga Poses to Stretch and Energize
Yoga is an excellent tool to calm the mind, body, and spirit. But surprisingly, yoga can also stimulate tired muscles and revigorate your mind by stretching the joints and increasing circulation throughout the body.
Try these six yoga poses to get you going any time of the day.
- Stand with your big toes together and heels slightly apart. Spread your toes. Rock from side to side, forward and backward, then gradually become still with your weight evenly distributed on both feet.
- Like a mountain, stand with your thighs and core firm. Align your legs, belly, pelvic region, neck, and head. Press your shoulders back and down and look gently forward. Relax the muscles in your face and breathe easily. Stay in the pose for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
Standing forward bend
- Stand tall with your feet hip-width apart.
- Take a deep breath in, then exhale as you bend forward from the hips.
- Reach for your knees, shins, toes, or floor.
- Aim to press your chest against your thighs.
- Shake your head “yes” and “no” to relax the muscles in your head and neck.
- Hold the pose for 10 deep breaths.
- Kneel and place your knees hip-distance apart. Keep the butt muscles relaxed while pressing the shins and tops of the feet into the floor.
- Inhale and bring the palms of your hands to the lower back, pointing your fingers down to the floor.
- On your exhale, tuck your chin toward your chest and lean back.
- If allowed, continue by reaching the fingertips back toward your heels. Rest the palms of your hands on your heels. The fingertips should point toward your toes. Breathe.
- Keep the thighs parallel to each other and the hips directly over the knees. If you feel discomfort in your low back, tuck your toes to elevate your heels.
- Keep pressing the front body towards the front of the room with your chest lifted towards the sky. Squeeze the shoulder blades together while keeping the head neutral.
- Hold the pose for 30-60 seconds. To release the pose, inhale and bring your hands back to your front hips. Inhale and push your hips to the floor. Bring your head up last. Flow into Child’s Pose to counter the backbend movement.
*Do not perform camel pose if you have a neck or back injury.
Down Dog to Up Dog
- Kneel on your hands and knees with your hands beneath your shoulders and your knees directly beneath your hips. Your hands should be spread wide apart. Your feet should be flat and hip-width apart.
- Inhale as you lift your body up, keeping your shoulders back and pushing backward into your hips. Push your buttocks upwards. Keep your heels down as much as possible. Keep your knees bent as needed, ultimately straightening the legs and bringing the chest to the thighs. Lift one foot then another back and forward (peddling to get the effect of the feet being flat, which is the goal). You are forming a V with your body.
- Adjust the feet slightly to bring your body into plank pose as you transition to upward dog.
- Press the palms into the ground and drop the hips. Move the shoulders away from your ears. Lift the chest up and out as you breathe into the pose. Hold for 3-5 breaths.
- Reverse the sequence, pushing back into downward dog. Hold downward dog briefly then walk or hop the feet to the hands. Inhale, sweeping the arms up and toward the sky. Bring the palms together, then down to heart center.
Side angle pose
- Stand in mountain pose. Step your feet wide, about 3½ to 4 feet apart. Raise your arms parallel to the floor with your palms facing down. Turn your left foot in 45 degrees to the right and your right foot out to the right 90 degrees. Adjust the heels so they are aligned.
- As you exhale, reach your right hand down and to your shins or the floor. If needed, place a yoga block against your inner right foot and rest your palm there. Keep your legs straight. Aim your gaze to your left hand.
- Press the right palm down against the shin or ground and reach your left hand toward the sky simultaneously. Stay long through the torso. Breathe and stretch.
- Stay in this pose from 30 seconds to one minute. Exhale and release the twist. Repeat for the same length of time with the legs reversed, twisting to the left.
Watch videos of the poses below.