Yoga is an ancient practice that has physical, mental and spiritual benefits. Although it has evolved quite a bit since its origin to become a sweaty workout, there are many poses that are known to have calming qualities. You can incorporate these poses into your regular routine to help de-stress in daily life, or practice them the day before and morning of your wedding. Whether you’re in the midst of planning your big day, freaking out in the hours leading up to it or simply want to improve your physical, spiritual or mental health, yoga can be a great way to unwind before your wedding. Try these ten beginner-friendly poses that will calm and relax any bride.
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1. Mountain Pose
Mountain pose is typically the starting position for all standing poses. It’s a great way to start your practice and begin your purposeful breathing. A strong rhythm of breath is a key component of yoga, and with every inhale and exhale you’ll feel yourself relaxing.
How to do Mountain Pose:
- Start by standing up straight, with your big toes touching and your heels slightly apart. Your weight should be evenly distributed throughout your feet.
- Roll your shoulder blades down your back and allow your arms to hang by your torso, hands facing forward.
- Your chin should be slightly tucked and your eyes are closed. You are standing strong with a straight spine, firmly rooted to the ground with a line of energy bringing the crown of your head up.
- As you inhale and exhale, continue to roll your shoulders down your back.
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This pose will improve your posture and stability, and is the foundation for many yoga sequences. Each breath will calm your mind and enable you to relax. Hold the pose for 4 breaths, or however long you feel comfortable.
2. Standing Forward Bend
A standing forward bend is used as a resting pose and has many health benefits. This pose stretches your hamstrings and circulates blood to your head, and it can be very comfortable to allow your body to simply hang upside down.
How to do a Standing Forward Bend:
- To begin, stand with your feet about hip-width apart, then hinge at the hips and reach your arms down.
- If your hands do not fully reach the floor, feel free to bend your arms and grab opposite elbows in a rag doll position.
- With every inhale you lengthen the torso, and with every exhale you deepen the fold. Your feet are firmly planted on the ground and your tailbone is lifted towards the ceiling.
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Other benefits of this position include relieving headaches, insomnia and stress as well as reducing fatigue and anxiety. Hold the pose for 30 seconds to a full minute, inhaling and exhaling purposefully throughout.
3. Legs Up The Wall
Lying down with your legs straight up against a wall is an excellent hamstring stretch and is great for those who spend a lot of time on their feet.
How to do Legs Up The Wall:
- Simply lie down flat on the ground, or place a pillow underneath your lower back for support, and straighten out your legs against the wall.
- Extend your arms out to the side with your palms facing up and make sure your heels are stacked over your hips.
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By lying in this inverted state, blood will flow to your belly and improve overall circulation. Restorative energy will flow through your body and you can relax in this soothing state. Hold the pose for 2 to 3 minutes, or for however long feels comfortable for you. To come out of the pose safely, bend your knees and roll onto one side.
4. Cat Cow
Cat cow is a great beginner yoga pose that improves the flexibility and strength of your spine. The simple motion is hugely beneficial in preventing back pain and injury.
How to do Cat Cow:
- Start on all fours in a tabletop position, with your shoulders stacked over your wrists and your hips stacked over your knees.
- As you inhale, arch your back to come into cow pose. As you exhale, round your back to come into cat pose.
- Continue this rhythm of breathing as you flow between poses. You will feel your spine moving and curving along with your movements. Keep your neck long, as a natural extension of your spine.
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This mini vinyasa flow soothes and stretches your lower back, while relieving stress as you gently massage your spine. This is a good opportunity for you to really focus on your breath and flow through the movements as you breathe. Cycle through a few rounds of cat cow until you feel your mind start to ease and your body relax.
5. Downward Facing Dog
The quintessential yoga pose, downward facing dog is the core pose for many vinyasa flows and sequences. For beginners, this pose may be difficult to fully achieve, but with every practice you will be able to improve and work your way towards the full pose.
How to do Downward Facing Dog:
- Start in a plank pose on the ground, then push back to create an inverted V shape with your body.
- Your hands and feet are planted firmly on the ground, tailbone is rising toward the ceiling and your shoulder blades are rolling down your back. If your heels don’t reach the ground, continue pressing down as you lift your hips up.
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Downward facing dog is an excellent strengthening yoga pose because it engages every part of your body, from your arms to your core to your legs. It is an energizing pose and improves stiffness and back pain while boosting circulation throughout the body. Hold the pose for 8 breaths, or as long as you feel comfortable. Feel free to shift back and forth between a high plank pose to relieve pressure on your shoulders.
6. Bridge Pose
Bridge pose is simple back bend that provides gentle stretching of your back and legs, alleviating stress and tension.
How to do Bridge Pose:
- To begin, lie flat on your back and bend your knees so that your feet are on the ground, hip-width apart, so that your fingertips can graze your heels.
- Gently lift your back while pressing your feet into the ground.
- Press down into your arms and shoulders to lift your chest up, engaging your legs and butt to lift your hips higher.
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This pose builds core and lower body strength, while simultaneously lengthening and strengthening your spine. It energizes your body and stimulates your nervous system. Hold the pose for 4 to 8 breaths, releasing by exhaling and slowly rolling the spine back down to the floor.
7. Child’s Pose
Child’s pose is an active resting pose that can help quiet your mind and ease stress and anxiety. It stretches your back and hips and gives you the opportunity to melt into the ground.
How to do Child’s Pose:
- Kneel on the floor and sit back on your heels, big toes touching. Separate your knees wide.
- As you exhale, lay your torso and arms down in front of you. Feel your shoulder blades open as you reach forward with your hands.
- Breathe slowly through this pose, feeling the stretch in your hips and lower back.
Photo Credit: Kim Fisch
This is often used as a resting pose between sequences during your practice. It provides a gentle stretch throughout your body and can help calm your mind. Hold for 30 seconds or longer, depending on how comfortable you feel.
8. Reclined Bound Angle Pose
Lying down in a reclined bound angle pose provides stretching of your inner thighs and knees, while stimulating your internal organs and alleviating the symptoms of stress and menstrual cramps.
How to do Reclined Bound Angle Pose:
- Sit upright with the soles of your feet together and your knees spread open wide.
- Gently lie flat on your back, allowing your knees to continue opening and stretching your inner thighs. Your arms can be down by your sides or up over your head.
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This may be uncomfortable for beginners who have not done this pose before. Keep your knees lifted as much as needed to prevent injury, possibly with blocks or cushions underneath them for support. Hold the pose for 30 seconds or longer, however long feels best.
9. Supine Spinal Twist
A supine spinal twist is an excellent stretch for your back muscles and your spine. It also stimulates your internal organs and releases stress from your body.
How to do a Supine Spinal Twist:
- Lie flat on your back and hug your left knee into your chest.
- As you exhale, slowly bring your left knee to cross over your body, keeping your shoulders flat on the ground. Keep your knee lifted as much as needed to keep your shoulders and back flat.
- Bring your gaze over your left shoulder and extend your arms out wide.
- Repeat on the other side.
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Hold this pose for 5 to 10 breaths on each side, being sure to breathe purposefully and intentionally to reap the full benefits of the stretch.
10. Corpse Pose
Corpse pose, or savasana, is the final resting pose for your yoga practice. Whether you have been flowing through each pose in a rigorous workout, or practicing each pose individually for stretching, corpse pose is the ideal way to finish your practice and seal in all the benefits.
How to do Corpse Pose:
- Lie down flat on your back, allowing your body to relax entirely.
- Let your feet fall out to either side, arms alongside the body with the palms facing upwards.
- Breathe naturally rather than purposefully, really allowing your body to rest.
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To come out of this pose, deepen your breath and begin to move your fingers and toes, bringing awareness back to the body. Hug your knees into the chest and roll over to one side, keeping your eyes closed, then slowly bring yourself back up to a seated position. This final relaxation is a great way to let your mind and body relax fully, relieving stress, reducing headaches and fatigue and relaxing your central nervous system. Feel free to stay in this pose as long as you’d like in order to feel relaxed.
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Practicing yoga before your wedding is a great way to get in shape and become more in tune with your mind. You will be able to feel the physical, mental and spiritual benefits of these poses with just a few rounds. Actively breathing and meditating will help you calm your mind even during the most stressful of situations. Even if you aren’t able to fully commit to a whole workout, simply practicing a few of these poses in the morning or before bed every night will help you relax and de-stress before the big day.