Downward-Facing Dog (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
downwardfacing dog yoga
If you only do one yoga pose after a long day at work, make it a downward-facing dog, a holistic pose that stretches and strengthens many parts of the body. To come into the pose, move into an inverted "V’ shape. With hands outstretched in front and you, lift the hips and ground the feet (at about hips-width apart) into the floor. Ground all the fingers into the floor and point them forward, bring your attention to the breath as you enjoy the stretch for 30-60 seconds.
“It helps you lengthen and strengthen muscles in the body,” Bielkus says. “It reduces tension in the shoulders, relaxes the neck, and lets a little more blood flow get to the brain. You’re also able to really stretch the legs, so if you’re sitting all day, the legs are getting inactive.”
The pose is also great for stretching out the wrists and hands, which may become sore or tired from hours of typing.
Mountain Pose (Tadasana)
Counter a long day of contracting the back with this powerful back and chest-opening posture. Come to a comfortable standing position with feet hips-width apart, bring your hands up over your head with palms facing forward and thumbs hooked as you bend gently backwards and breathe deeply.
“This is a powerful pose to free up tight chest muscles,” Bielkus says.
Fish Pose (Matsyasana)
fish pose yoga
Fish pose is an excellent tension reducer, and can also be therapeutic for fatigue and anxiety, according to Yoga Journal. To come into the pose, sit up on your hips with legs stretched out together in front of you and toes pointed. Bring your hands under your hips and lean back to prop yourself up on your forearms. Then, lift the chest above the shoulders and drop the head back to the ground behind you. Breathe deeply and rest in the pose for 15-30 seconds.
Fish pose “releases tension in the neck, throat, and head, helps stretch the chest muscles and opens up the lungs,” Bielkus says.
Standing Forward Fold (Uttanasana)
yoga forward bend
A forward bend provides a soothing feeling of release – making the pose therapeutic for stress and anxiety – and with the added arm bind, this standing forward bend variation provides a deep shoulder stretch as well.
Stand with your feet at hips-width distance, and slowly bend forward from the hips to come into the forward bend. To take the strain off the lower back, bend the knees slightly. Then, try adding an arm bind to stretch the shoulders: Interlace your hands at the lower back and stretch the arms over your head and hands towards the ground in front of you. For those with tight shoulders, hold a belt between your hands, allowing the shoulders to get a deep but less intense stretch.
“By binding the hands, you also allow the arms to stretch and tight shoulders to relax,” Bielkus says. “After sitting all day, it’s a great idea to turn your world upside down and bring some blood back to the brain while getting a great stretch for the legs.”