You know the feeling when you have been on your feet the whole day and all you want to do is kick off your shoes, lift up your feet, and relax? Although the couch may be very tempting at that point, you'll benefit more from a few vitalizing yoga poses to soothe tired legs and feet.
So roll out your mat, lift up your feet, and enjoy the well deserved, sweet release!
Note: All poses except for #1 are done against a wall, so make sure you have some empty wall space. Bring your mat close to the wall and let yourself feel supported!
1. Downward-Facing Dog Pose (Adho Mukha Svanasana)
Start in Downward Dog to slowly stretch the legs, calves, and the back of the thighs. Keep your knees bent and slowly straighten one leg at a time, bringing one heel towards the ground. Be gentle and give your legs the needed attention without demanding too much from them. Stay for 1 to 2 minutes.
2. Legs-Up-the-Wall Pose (Viparita Karani )
This pose is one of the best for relaxing tired legs and feet. Since it's a mild inversion, it will drain lymphatic fluids from the legs which reduces swelling in the feet, ankles, and knees. At the same time, this pose increases the circulation in the upper body and brings back the balance after spending a long time on your feet.
Lie on the floor and bring your sitting bones close to the wall. With any discomfort on the lower back, bring your sitting bones a bit further from the wall. Make sure your kneecaps are not locking and rest your arms on your side. Stay anywhere from 3 to 5 minutes and work your way up to 10 minutes.
3. Wide-Angle Bend on the Wall Pose (Upavistha Konasana Variation)
From Legs-Up-the-Wall, keep your legs straight and your sitting bones touching the wall. Start opening your legs into a v-shape until you reach a point of comfortable resistance. Don't pull or push your legs down by force, but let the gravity do the work. This pose opens the hips and stretches the inner thighs. Stay for 3 to 5 minutes, then slowly bring your legs back up.
4. Eye-of-the-Needle Pose Against the Wall (Sucirandhrasana Variation)
This pose relieves stiffness in the outer hips and increases the range of motion in the lower body.
It might be easier to begin with your sitting bones a bit further from the wall for this pose. Start with both legs straight up against the wall, and bring the left ankle above the right knee (above in this case being close to the thigh). Slowly start to bend the right leg, and let your foot slide down against the wall. Observe how your hip feels, and slowly progress lower if your body allows. Stop when your ankle is parallel to your knee.
Stay for 3 to 5 minutes, and when coming out, keep both legs up for a few breaths before switching sides.
5. Supported Butterfly Pose (Baddha Konasana Variation)
Butterfly helps open the hips and thighs, releases stress and anxiety, and stimulates the digestive organs. To move into the supported version of Butterfly, bring the soles of your feet together and slide the feet slowly down towards your hips. Take the knees as wide as they go, again, allowing gravity to help you.
Stay in the pose for 3 to 5 minutes, after which you can slowly release, bringing your knees close to your chest to move to the final pose.
6. Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
Happy Baby Pose relieves stress, gives a mild stretch on the inner groin, and relieves pain in the lower back. From Supported Butterfly, bring your knees close to your chest and take a hold of the outsides of your feet with your hands. Lift the feet up, keeping the ankles above the knees. If your hips feel tight, you can place a belt on the ball of each foot, and hold onto the belts for more space.
Stay up to 1 minute, after which you can slowly release the legs.
End your practice in Savasana. Slide yourself along the mat so that you have space to lay flat on your back and set a timer for 5 to 10 minutes of relaxation. Observe how your legs and feet are feeling, breathe deeply, and enjoy.
Image Credit: Arno Enzerink / Yogini: Kaisa Kapanen