8 Yoga Poses to Help You Unwind

By Courtney Lewis Opdahl |

Finding ways to relax these days can be challenging, but a gentle yoga routine performed can help quiet the mind, as well as lower stress and blood pressure, release muscle tension, and loosen stiff joints.

“You want to release any tightness from the day to relax and unwind,” says Jan Johnson, Life Time yoga coordinator and LifePower Master Yoga teacher and trainer, who designed this routine and suggests you do it before bedtime.

Here are eight poses to help release tension and target specific overworked areas of the body, which can aid in recovery as you wind down your day and prepare to sleep. Take five deep breaths in each pose as you move through this gentle flow sequence:

  1. Modified Sun

Sun Salutation is usually very invigorating, but this series — which keeps the focus on linking your breath with movement and utilizes your own natural belly breathing — resembles a moving meditation.

  1. Repeat the movement for five or more deep breaths.
  1. Standing Side Bends

Creating space in our side bodies, Standing Side Bends release tension in the muscles of the transverse plane, making day-to-day twisting and rotating-movement easier.

  1. Inhale and return to center with both arms reaching overhead.
  1. Forward Fold

This pose helps release the most common problem areas — think hamstrings, , shoulders, neck — and more.

  1. Hold for five or more deep breaths.
  1. Forward Fold to Half Lift 

Lifting the torso from Forward Fold extends the front body and allows for a deep stretch.

  1. Take a deep breath and return to Forward Fold, moving slowly and deliberately as you focus on your breathing.
  1. Cat­–Cow

“Back pain affects almost everyone at some point, and lack of activity can worsen the condition,” says Johnson. This pose will stretch and strengthen core and back muscles, and the steady breath will quiet your nervous system and promote relaxation.

  1. Repeat five times, synchronizing breath with movement.
  1. Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose opens up the shoulders and back while the reaching portion opens up the side body.

  1. Move the hands back to the center and hold for five or more deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.
  1. Fetal Pose on Each Side 

A relaxing and resting pose, Fetal Pose creates a sense of security. Take care in rolling to opposite sides if you have any shoulder or hip issues. Pregnant women are generally advised to lie only on their left side.

  1. Inhale and exhale deeply and slowly for five or more breaths before switching sides.
  1. Savasana

One of the most important aspects of a restorative practice, Savasana promotes mindfulness, body awareness, and recovery. Ease intoor further meditation by closing your practice with this pose while lying in bed.

  1. Rest in this pose for five minutes or more. If you have trouble releasing the chatter in your mind, focus on counting 20 long, slow, deep breaths in reverse order, from 20 to one.

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