3 Essential Yoga Poses: Stretch, Release & Rejuvenate

This time of year tends to be pretty hectic—post holiday stress, New Year errands, family members heading back home—it’s a lot to have on your plate.

Even the most devoted of us will put our practice on the back burner every once in a while. When you don’t have more than 10 minutes for yoga, there are three poses you should do daily and they’ll probably take half that amount of time! These three poses will always instantly stretch, release, and rejuvenate:

Downward Facing Dog (Ardho Mukha Svanasana):

The fountain of youth! Well, basically. This anti-aging mild inversion gets the blood flowing in the opposite direction which improves circulation and reduces stress.

From your hands and knees, tuck your toes under and lift your hips up towards the sky. With your hands under the shoulders and feet under the hips, press down through the palms, spreading the fingers wide. Press the sitting bones up and the heels down towards the floor. Firm the shoulder blades down the back and keep the head aligned between the elbows. Take 8-12 breaths here.

Pigeon Pose (Kapotāsana):

Most of the time, our stress and tension finds its way to the hips. This will lead to lower back pain and poor posture.

From downdog, draw one knee in towards your chest and place it between your hands. Square the hips: so your outer thigh is flat against the mat and the other is squeezing forward to keep them aligned. Lift through the crown of the head, and ground down through the pelvis. Flex your front foot to protect the knee and stretch down the back leg and out through the toes, “scissoring” the legs. As you’re comfortable, begin to lean forward, leading with the chest. Take 8-12 breaths here.

Lying Supine Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana):

Any twist will literally wring out your core, improving digestion, massaging your organs, and releasing the spine. Best of all, they feel pretty amazing from the inside out!

From pigeon, draw the knees into the chest. Keeping the knees pulled close, press the entire backside of the body into the floor, lengthening from the top of the head down to the tailbone. Bring the knees over the hips keeping them bent at ninety degrees. Gently drop them to one side, keeping the knees stacked and not allowing that top hip to slide back. Open the chest away from the legs, squaring the shoulders towards the sky. Bring your gaze away from the knees. Repeat on the other side. Take 8-12 breaths.

For a little extra yogi credit, find savasana for another five minutes at the end of your postures. No matter how brief your practice, these extra few minutes of quiet stillness are always the icing on the cake.

What’s the pose you never skip, no matter how hectic your day has been?

Erin motzenbecker

I am a Bad Yogi. Actually, I am the worst yogi. I am the carnivorous, red wine- and French cheese-loving type, and in my classes you won’t hear much Sanskrit or anything about the Sutras. I make more jokes than I make references to any self-help philosophy, and to top it all off, I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with that. Truthfully though, teaching yoga has been one of my greatest pl...READ MORE