A little over a year ago I began a strength training program. After bilateral hip replacements, and the years of dysfunction that led up to them, I needed to regain strength. I’m now working out with weights at least once a week on my own. It feels good and has improved my strength and agility by miles.
I’ve begun tweaking my workouts recently to include a longer stretching period after my workout. As I expected, making my cool-down period more like a mini-yoga practice has benefits far beyond simple stretching. After I finish my workout now, my mind is clear, smooth and alert—like after a yoga practice. Who would have thought?
6 Yoga Poses for Cooling Down
Of course, there are lots of yoga poses for cooling down after a weight-training session. What you choose can depend on the focus of your weight training. Below are the poses I’ve found to be helpful. Bring along a yoga mat, a yoga strap and an eye pillow, and make sure you approach your practice with an attitude of ease rather than one of aggression. Keep your breathing long, slow and relaxed.
- Unwind: Adho Mukha Svanasana (Downward Facing Dog Pose) is a great way to begin the unwinding process. Begin your Dog Pose by moving around—twisting, flexing and extending your spine and moving through all your joints. The intention here is to “liquefy” your joints and soft tissues before stretching. Downward Facing Dog Pose is the perfect transition pose for moving into stretching.
- Stretch Your Quads: There are a number of ways to stretch the quads. My favorite way is to practice Supta Ardha Virasana (Supine Half Hero’s Pose). However, this pose can be out of reach for people whose knees don’t flex all that far. If this is the case, simply flip over onto your belly. Lie flat on your abdomen and then bend one of your knees. Reach back and grab your foot and draw the foot in toward your body to stretch the quads. You can use your yoga strap if your hand doesn’t reach your foot.
- Stretch Your Hamstrings: Supta Padangusthasana (Supine Big Toe Pose) is a classic way to release hamstring tightness after a workout. Be sure to place a strap around your foot so that you can keep the rest of your body in a supine Tadasana (Mountain Pose).
- Stretch Your Outer Thighs: Supta Ardha Padmasana (Supine Half Lotus Pose) is a great way to release tension in the glutes and outer thighs. Make sure to keep your shoulders relaxed as you draw your legs toward your torso.
- Twist: Jathara Parivrttanasana (Revolved Belly Pose) is a great way to further release tension in the shoulders and core. Be sure to breathe deeply into your abdomen as you relax into the pose.
- Let It All Go: As with any asana practice, Savasana (Relaxation Pose) helps smooth out agitation and help you integrate your practice. Give yourself at least 5 minutes. I’ve found 10 minutes to be the minimum amount of time my body needs to benefit from Savasana after a workout. The lights in most gyms and weight rooms are pretty harsh. An eye pillow makes a big difference.
What are your favorite yoga poses for cooling down after a workout?