On days when you want to move your body but don’t feel up for a full workout, moving through some gentle yoga poses is just the thing. We’ve rounded up 8 poses for you to find mind-body balance without straining yourself — use them individually or move through them sequentially.
by Iris Goldsztajn
Moving your body is always a good idea, but some days call for more gentle movement than others.
On those days when you’re not feeling up for a 5-mile run, HIIT workout or even for a more dynamic yoga flow, you can still incorporate movement without straining yourself.
Here, we talk you through some very gentle yoga poses — move through them sequentially or use them individually to explore that mind-body connection. You can even do some of these in bed!
This is a resting pose, perfect for stretching out a tired or sore body. Come to your hands and knees on your bed or mat, then spread your knees with your toes still touching. Now lean forward so that your forehead touches the ground (or the mattress) in front of you and your belly rests between (or on) your thighs. Your arms can stretch in front of you with the palms down, or you can keep your arms either side of your thighs with the palms up. Stay here as long as you need to reconnect with your breath.
Happy baby can also be done from the comfort of your bed. It stretches the inner thighs, groins and back spine, while opening up the hips. Lie on your back, then bend your knees in. Hold on to the outsides of your feet with your hands, or use a strap if you can’t quite reach. With your ankles directly over your knees, flex your feet and push through them to create some resistance.
Banana pose is amazing to stretch out the sides of your body. First, lay flat on your back. Bring your feet together and stretch your arms overhead, hands clasped together. Now make a banana shape with your body — arms and feet stretching towards one side — and keep your hips and shoulders on the bed or mat. You’ll get the most benefits from this one first thing in the morning or right before bed.
This back stretch is very gentle and accessible to many people. Come to your hands and knees with your shoulders aligned over your wrists and your hips directly over your knees. Inhale, push into your hands and come into a backbend, belly toward the floor and gazing upward — this is your cow position. Now exhale, push into your hands and arch your spine, gazing downward — this is your cat position. Alternate between your cat and cow as many times as you like.
If you’ve been moving through this sequence on your bed, mountain pose is a great first pose to do on your feet. It helps you find better posture and body awareness. To begin, stand up straight with your big toes touching. Let yourself feel the connection between your feet and the ground. Engage your thighs and rotate them inward, keeping your spine and neck neutral and your belly pulled in. Keep your arms at your side, palms facing forward.
Downward dog stretches out your lower back and the backs of your legs, creating space in the body. To get there, start in an all-fours position, knees slightly behind your hips, hands shoulder-width apart and fingers fanned out. Push your hands into the floor, then tuck your toes under and lift your knees up so that your legs are as straight as you can get them. Your body should look like an upturned V. Now stay here for a few moments, breathing slowly in and out.
Baby cobra helps improve mobility in your spine and strengthens your shoulders, creating space in your chest. It can also help you de-stress and is more accessible to yoga beginners than the “full” cobra pose. Lay down on your belly. Bring your hands underneath your shoulders, palms on the floor but not pressing down too hard. Engage your core and inhale to lift your chest, head and neck just as high as is comfortable. Take a few breaths here, then exhale to lower down.
The ultimate resting pose, savasana is often the last pose in a sequence. It will help you recenter your energy for the day ahead just as well as it will help you wind down for bed. It’s designed for you to completely let go into relaxation. Just lie on your back with your arms at your sides, trying to quieten your mind but not judging if a thought comes up, just letting it wash over you.
With these restorative poses in your toolbox, you can move your body any day without overdoing it.
They will help you stretch out your body and relax your mind, preparing you for whatever the day may bring.
To carry the feel-good energy of your yoga session with you throughout the day, try layering in a tincture blended with Ayurvedic herbs and CBD like our GO for natural energy (without the crash) or our SLOW to soothe away tension.
Iris Goldsztajn is a London-based writer and editor with six years of experience creating content for various outlets. Her work has appeared in the likes of InStyle, Stylist and Cosmopolitan, and she won first place in Writing Magazine’s Grand Prize for a short story in 2020.