If your legs and feet are aching, do this yoga sequence to soothe them.
If you’re on your feet for most of the day, you are very familiar with the feeling of sore, aching legs and feet at the end of the day. By the time you get home, all you want to do is take off your shoes, prop your feet up, and pop a pain reliever. This may sound tempting, but did you know you’ll actually soothe your aching extremities more from doing yoga than by sitting on the couch?
The yoga six poses below target your feet and legs to release tension and relieve the aches. Try them when you get home from work and feel the soreness disappear.
By Kaisa Kapanen
Downward Facing Dog
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.
Legs Up the Wall
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.
Wide-Angle Bend on the Wall
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.
Eye of the Needle Against the Wall
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.
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.
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.
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All images courtesy of Kaisa Kapanen.