7 Yoga Poses to Feeling Calm

calm yoga poses

By Cathy Madeo

The Culture-ist has teamed up with Cathy Madeo to give our Wellness Warriors a series of free yoga videos. The second in this series is 7 Yoga Poses to Feeling Calm. The video sequences the 7 poses below into a calm 20-minute yoga class.

Pigeon Pose

Opening up the hips can bring calmness into your body. When we release the hips, we let go of stored up tension. From downward facing dog, or table top place your right foot behind your left wrist and right knee behind your right wrist. If the shinbone is parallel to the front of the mat, flex the foot. The front femur bone should be on the ground; if it’s not, place a blanket or block underneath. Draw the front outer hip back and the back outer hip forward. The back leg extends straight back from the hip socket. Take a gentler form of this pose by angling your front shin diagonally and pointing your foot, which might allow your hips to square more easily and access a deeper forward fold. Your arms extend to the front of the mat. Allow the shoulders to wrap back and around to release tension in the shoulders and neck. Hold for several breathes and let the body sink into the posture. Switch sides.

Janu Sirsasana

Now that your hips are open it is time to lengthen your hamstrings and release your groin. Janu Sirsasana opens the hips and hamstrings and is a cooling posture because of the forward bend. From staff pose, bring the right sole of your foot to the inside of your left thigh. Firm your left leg straight by engaging the quadriceps muscle. Ground your sit bones into the floor and turn your ribcage toward your straight leg. Hinge forward at the hip and lengthen your spine to fold over your left leg. Wrap your hands around your left foot, or place them to frame the left leg. Hold for several breathes. Switch sides.

Seated Twist

This mild seated twist will ease you into a calm state by neutralizing the spine. From staff pose place the sole of your right foot on the ground, your knee will be facing the ceiling. Root both sit bones into the ground and lengthen the spine on an inhale. Begin to turn your ribs toward the bent leg, each inhale the spine lengthens, each exhale, turn toward the bent leg. Bring the back of the left arm to the outside of the right thigh, or hug the leg with the left arm. Use your right hand behind your seat to help elongate the spine. Draw your shoulders back and in the same line as each other. Reach the crown of the head up toward the sky. Hold for several breathes. Inhale to come out of the twist and switch sides.

Supine Big-toe-to-hand Pose

This pose stretches the hamstrings and keeps mobility in the hip socket by moving the thighbone out to the side. Start on your back. Hug your right knee into your chest. Take yogi toe-lock by wrapping the index finger and thumb around the big toe. Place your left hand on your left hip or front of the thigh. Tilt the pelvis slightly forward so that you maintain the natural curve of your lumbar spine. Begin to straighten your right leg; sole of the foot toward the ceiling. If the leg can’t straighten without compromising the alignment in the back, clasp your hands behind the right leg instead and feel free to bend your knee. Ground the left femur bone toward the ground and keep the left foot flexed. Begin to move your right leg to the right. The hips remain where they are and they right leg moves freely in the hip socket. Bring your left arm to extend to the left; both shoulders draw toward the ground. Turn your head to gaze over the left shoulder. Engage the right quadriceps and feel the back of the leg stretch. Breathe for several breathes. Come out the same way you came in to the posture. Switch sides.

Happy Baby Pose

This pose releases tension in our hips and groin. Lie on your back. Bring your knees towards your shoulders. Flex your feet toward the ceiling and bring your shinbones perpendicular to the floor. Grab the outside of the soles of your feet with your hands. Use your hands to gently press the feet energetically toward the floor. Your knees are wide, underneath your arms. Lengthen the spine, by bringing your tailbone toward the earth, the tendency is for it to curl up and off the floor. Feel your hips release and a deep stretch of the groin. You can rock gently side to side. Stay here for several breathes.

Supine Cow-Face Legs

This variation of knees into the chest stretches the glutes and IT band. Anytime we bring the knees into the chest, we are in a forward bend, which cools the body. This is a perfect stretch to feel calm. Start on your back. Wrap your right leg around the left and stack the knees on top of each other. Flex the feet. Place your hands on your shins or ankles and gently draw the knees into the chest. Press the back of the head into the mat to release any tension in the neck. Breathe here for several breathes and then switch sides.

Corpse Pose

Corpse pose facilitates a deep release in the body by giving it the space to be soft and let go. Lie on your back, let your feet splay out to the sides to keep the hips released. Turn your palms up toward the sky, this is a gesture of receiving your practice, and will also keep your shoulders and chest open. Your chin should be neither too far up or too far down. Close your eyes. Bring your awareness into your body by doing a mental scan of your body parts starting from the crown of your head. Stay here for at least 8 minutes. Feel the outer body relax and your inner body feel calm. To come out, gently move your fingers and toes. Then take a good morning stretch by raising your arms over your head and stretching from fingertips to toes. Roll to your right side for a moment. Then, use the strength of your right hand to bring yourself back to a seated pose. Take a moment here with your eyes closed to feel the effects of the practice.

About the author

Cathy Madeo started teaching yoga 11 years ago and has been a practicing yogi for over 20 years. She is the co-owner of Honor Yoga Princeton in New Jersey. Learn more at www.cathymadeo.com or follow her on Instagram @cathymadeo

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