Yoga Cool Down happens towards the end of our practice. This is quite the opposite of the yoga warm-up phase we have at the beginning of the practice. The purpose is to help us safely return to our normal state. To allow our yoga practice to be absorbed into our bodies and to prepare for the final relaxation.
Our systems function best if we gradually speed them up and gradually slow them down rather than a sudden transition from a normal state to high energy exercise followed by a sudden stop. Cool Down poses are restorative. They help our hearts to slow down and our blood to return from our muscles into our circulatory system. An effective cool down helps to prevent aches and pains immediately after exercise and DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) a day or two later.
The cooldown phase normally starts after the peak pose of a yoga sequence. There is nothing fancy or over demanding here and there are modifications offered so that they suit most of us.
5 Best Yoga Cool Down Poses.
These five poses are Staff, Seated Twist, Sphinx, Legs Up and Bridge. What we have here is a sequence that:
- Stretches out our legs in a forward fold
- Twists our spine right and left
- Bends our Spine Backwards
- Returns our blood from our legs to circulation
- Opens up our chest area after the compression
These Yoga Cool Down Poses then leaves us ready for the relaxation phase of our yoga practice.
Seated Forward Bend
Staff pose is seated with our legs out straight and legs together. Now, this is a leg stretch, your back stays straight. If you cannot sit upright with straight legs then try bending them a little or sit on a cushion or a yoga black. Stretch your arms forward and reach towards the opposite wall. Reach as far forward as you can and then drop your hands down to your legs whilst still keeping your back straight.
Look forward and push through your sternum. If your hands reach your toes then that’s great but if not then your hands can be on your legs.
You should be feeling this in your legs and not your back Hold it here and breathe a few deep breaths before returning to upright.
To make this easier take a strap and pass it around your feet with one end in either hand. You can keep your back straight, look forward and pul on the straps a little to bring yourself forward.
Sit cross-legged, Place your left hand on your right knee. LIft your right arm up to shoulder level in front of you. Look down your arm at your centre finger. Move your arm gradually round to the reverse and twist your torso so that you are looking behind you. You are looking over your right shoulder. Drop your right fingertips to the floor and sit up straight. There is no weight on your fingers, it is your muscles that hold you in place. Breathe. Gradually come back to centre.
Repeat on the other side. Place your right hand on your left knee gradually twist so that you are looking behind you over your left shoulder. Drop your left fingertips to the floor, sit up straight and breathe. Gradually come back to centre.
Come to lying on your front. have your hands and lower arms on the floor with your fingertips facing forward. Elbows bent and under your shoulders. Lift your head and shoulders into a gentle backbend. Push your chest forwards between your hands and drop your shoulders down your back. Hold it here and breathe. Now you can stay in this position for anything between 3 breaths and 3 minutes depending on your fitness. Gradually relax back down to the floor. You can leave it there or repeat if you wish.
Lying on your back then lift your legs in the air, you can hold behind the back of your legs if you need to. Alternatively, you can have your legs up against the wall. Firstly sit with your bottom very close to the wall and lift them up. Hold them their or open your legs out wide for a lovely inner thigh stretch.
Alternatively, your legs can be on a sofa with your back flat on the floor. This is very comfortable and relaxing. If its still not comfortable enough then place a cushion under your head.
These are a gentle form of shoulder stand which has the same effect but is more demanding. In either case, try to relax and breath deeply and slowly.
The final of our yoga cool down poses. Lie on your back with your legs in tent position with your arms down by your side. Tent position sees us with our knees bent towards the ceiling. They are hip-width apart and our toes point gently inwards.
Gradually tilt your pelvis so your back flattens against the floor. Now, gradually and slowly, continue that movement so your spine is peeled off the floor. This movement is one vertebra at a time. your arms come up over your head and you breathe in at the same time.
Your spine peels up as high as you can, it’s great if you can come to rest on your shoulders. Hold it here for one breath and slowly breathe out, peel your spin back down again with your arms back down to your sides.
One movement of your spine fully up and replacing it on the floor is a repetition. Repeat this for another 3 or 4 times or for as long as it feels good. Remeber breathe in as you move your spine upwards and breath out as you move it back down.
Now as our yoga practice comes to an end its time for breathing, meditation and relaxation. – Enjoy.
Have you enjoyed this yoga cool down? It’s quite a simple level for beginners. If you are more advanced then consider a more complex pattern with your legs for twists and coming into shoulder stands instead of legs up.
Please do leave me a comment and let me know if this cool down works for you. what alternative poses would you choose? I am interested and your comments help me to understand what I should write more or less about.