Classic Cool Down
Back, Hips, Hamstrings, Flexibility
This yoga cool down sequence is a classic way to wrap up your practice. It has everything you need to wind down the body and relax the mind.
Bridge (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
Plant your feet on the mat with your knees pointing up to the sky. Bring your arms by your sides, with your palms facedown. Press into your feet to slowly peel your hips and then your low back off of the mat. Keep your shoulders and head planted on the mat with the gaze up to the sky. When your hips reach almost the same height as your knees, you can tuck one shoulder and then the other under your back and clasp your fingers together, with the arms pressing down into the mat. Energetically pull your feet towards your hands to engage the muscles in your legs.
Wheel (Urdhva Dhanurasana)
After bridge, keep your feet and legs as they are, but bring the palms of your hands to the mat right next to your ears, with your fingertips pointing towards your feet. With an inhale breath, press evenly into your feet and your hands and lift your head and seat of of the mat. You can start by coming to the top of your head (be sure not to crunch your neck) and if that feel okay you can begin to straighten your legs and your arms, lifting your hips up to the sky. Hold for a few breaths.
To release your low back after your back bends, bring the soles of your feet together and open your knees wide, making a diamond shape with your legs. Your torso and head can be relaxed down on the mat. You might choose to bring one hand to your stomach and one hand to your heart. Close your eyes and take a few breaths.
Reclined Bound Angle (Supta Baddha Konasana)
Knees to Chest (Apasana)
Hug both knees into your chest. You might choose to bring your hands to your shins to hug your knees closer in. Keep your back flat on the mat and find a slight posterior tilt of the pelvis so your low back is planted on the mat. Breathe here.
Supine Spinal Twist (Supta Matsyendrasana)
Allow your knees to drop over to the left side of your mat. Keep both shoulders rooted on the mat and open your arms out wide. Your knees should be stacked and in line with your hips and your ankles in line with your knees, forming a 90 degree angle with the legs. If comfortable, you can drop your gaze over to the right. Breathe for a few moments and then bring your knees up through center and switch sides.
Happy Baby (Ananda Balasana)
With your knees still pulled in towards your chest, reach between your knees and grab for the outside edges of the feet with your hands. Relax your head back down onto the mat and keep your sacrum rooted on the mat. Pull your knees down towards your armpits and keep your ankles stacked over your knees. Choose to breathe here, or rock from side to side, maybe extending one leg and then the other.
Half Happy Baby (Ardha Ananda Balasana)
From happy baby, hold onto your right foot and let go of the left foot. Extend the left leg down onto the mat. You can place your left hand onto the left hip bone and anchor the left hip down to the mat with some pressure from your hand. Use the right hand to create even more compress in the right hip by pulling the knee down closer to the body.
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe I (Supta Hasta Padangusthasana I)
From half happy baby on the right side, release the right foot and use your right “peace fingers” to grab hold of the right big toe. Keep the left hip rooted down as you straighten the right leg up to the sky (it’s okay if the leg doesn’t get completely straight). Try to keep your shoulders and your head back on the mat and maintain length in your right side body. For more intensity in the right hamstring, you can bend the right elbow, pulling the leg closer to the body.
Reclining Hand-to-Big-Toe II (Supta Hasta Padangusthasana II)
While holding onto your right big toe, begin to open the right leg out to the right side, lowering the leg down towards the mat. Keep your left hand planted on your left hip and try to prevent that hip from lifting off the mat. Keep the tension between the fingers and the foot to keep the leg slightly elevated. One you’re done here, hug both knees into center and return to happy baby to do the last three poses on the other side.
Right before you move into savasana, you might consider hugging your knees into your chest one last time and give yourself a big squeeze. Then, extend your legs long with your heels in and your toes out. Bring your arms down by your side and open them wide, with your palms face up. Take a moment to relax each muscle of your body. Soften your face, your jaw, and close your eyes. Relax in savasana for as long as you can.