Yoga Poses For the Mind and Body

Despite having a rather morbid name, Corpse Pose or Savasana is actually one of the best poses for your body and mind. It stretches and strengthens your legs, back, arms, and chest. It also releases tension and calms your mind.

Start with feet parallel and slightly wider than your hips. This standing pose stretches your back and shoulders and strengthens your legs, ankles, and calves.

Downward Facing Dog

Downward Facing Dog is a powerful yoga pose known for building strength, toning the arms and shoulders and opening the chest. It also stretches the back body and the legs. According to BKS Iyengar, “a long stay in this posture rekindles the energy that has been depleted by fatigue.”

Energizing and De-stressing

The downward facing dog pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana) energizes the whole body by providing a continuous supply of blood to the muscles. It relieves muscle fatigue and pumps lactic acid out of the muscles. It is also beneficial for the digestive system because of the uddiyana bandha which stimulates the stomach and abdominal organs.

This pose can be difficult for beginners, so it is important to practice with a teacher who can guide you through the pose. Beginners who don’t have the strength or flexibility to do this pose can use a wall or a chair for support.

Mountain Pose

Mountain Pose is a foundational posture in yoga that strengthens the legs and core while improving alignment and balance. This balancing pose also helps relieve back pain and brings a calm focus to the mind.

When performing Mountain Pose, it is important to work within your own range of abilities and not force the poses. If balancing in Mountain Pose is difficult for you, position your feet wider apart (hip width distance or a little more) until you feel stable.

In Mountain Pose, the psoas muscles at the front of the pelvis and gluteus muscles at the buttocks help to keep the pelvis balanced. The hamstrings and adductor muscles of the inner thigh resist stretch to align the hips. Arms hang beside your torso, and the chin is parallel to the floor and relaxed.

Child’s Pose

Child’s Pose is a restorative pose that can help relax and restore both physically and mentally. Students with back, knee or ankle injuries may want to modify the posture by placing a rolled towel under their hips to decrease the strain on those areas.

They can also add a blanket or block under their forehead for extra support and comfort. This will allow them to focus on the practice without feeling uncomfortable or distracted.

Children should stay in the pose for as long as they feel comfortable. They can start with just a few breaths and slowly build up to longer periods of time. This is a great pose to practice before bed to calm the mind and body. It can also be used to help kids deal with big emotions.

Camel Pose

Camel Pose (Ustrasana) is a powerful backbend that strengthens the spine and counteracts slouching posture. It also opens the chest, shoulders and abdomen to improve breathing, circulation and digestion. It stimulates the thyroid and helps to tone the thighs, hips and buttocks.

To practice this pose, start on a nonskid yoga mat with your knees pressed into the wall, if necessary. Then, begin to move the front of your legs toward each other. This position helps to stretch out your hip flexors, which are tight from sitting so much.

This position can be physically challenging, so work up to it gradually. Using blocks can help you work up to this pose, and it can prevent your shoulders from becoming sore. You can even practice this pose at the wall before attempting the full version of Ustrasana.

Wall Pose

The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani) is a calming inversion and helps to relieve stress. It also improves digestion and aids sleep. Practicing this pose for longer periods of time, especially with controlled breathing, encourages the body to enter into its “rest and digest” nervous response.

To get into this position, find a clear wall space and sit sideways against it with your hips as close to the wall as possible. Gently wiggle yourself forward to where your sit bones are up against the wall and extend your legs straight up the wall above your head. Stay here for a few minutes and enjoy the relaxation. This posture also helps reduce headaches and lowers blood pressure. It also improves back pain, as well as helps the shoulders and neck muscles to relax.