Cooling down after you exercise is important. It helps to bring your heart rate and breathing back down to your natural resting levels gradually. This allows you to avoid the adverse effects of heavy exercise like fainting or dizziness, which is actually the result of your blood pooling in your larger muscles, especially in the legs, after any vigorous activity is stopped suddenly. Cooling down allows your body to remove this and other waste products from your muscles, for example, lactic acid.
What will you need in order to cool down?
- Though it is not necessary and this sequence can be performed anywhere, for the lying poses, it is recommended that you own a yoga mat.
- Some stretch yoga trousers .
- A baggy shirt or a vest that allows for maximum arm movement.
Cool-down sequence step-by-step
Start by lying on your back with your legs slightly apart.
Keep your feet relaxed and allow them to splay outwards slightly if this is more comfortable for you. Place your hands, palms down, onto the front of your thighs. Keep your head and neck as relaxed as possible and if you want to close your eyes to aid your relaxation. This is known as the corpse pose.
As you inhale, gently lift your arms above your head but keep them in a relaxed position so you do not strain the muscles you’ve just used in your yoga sequence.
Rotate your palms in order for them to face the ceiling. Make sure you keep the rest of your body in the same relaxed pose as in step 1.
When you next exhale, bring your arms back down to your sides and rotate the palms of your hands so that they will end up lying against the yoga mat or wherever you choose to do your cool-down sequence.
Next, bend your legs and bring your knees upwards.
This should create an arch with your feet and your pelvis making the two ends. Don’t try to strain your knees while you do this, keep them as relaxed as possible. Your feet should be flat on the mat and the rest of your body relaxed with your arms by your sides and your shoulders back against the mat.
After that, you will be entering a variant of the baby pose.
To do this, inhale and bring your knees up further and wrap your fingers around the top of your shin in order to hold your legs in place. Point your toes outwards and attempt to keep your legs parallel, though it is all right to relax them into each other if this is more comfortable for you. Keep your shoulders back and relax your head and neck. This pose is designed to strengthen the spinal column, and it is also good for your hips.
On your next exhale, swivel your knees to the right and try to get them to lie as close to the mat as you can without pushing them too far, as you can injure yourself.
Keep your back as straight as possible and stretch out your left arm, keeping the back of your hand on the floor. Use your other hand to aid the stretching of your legs. In this pose, your head should be facing the opposite way to your knees while keeping the neck relaxed.
Breathe in again and swing your legs to the left on your next out-breath, this time using your left hand to secure the legs in place.
Stretch your right hand away from your body with the palm of your hand facing the ceiling and point your fingers away from you. Turn your head to face the opposite direction to your knees and keep your neck as relaxed as you can.
Inhale and bring yourself back up into the baby pose variant once again and hold the position.
If you want, then you can interlace your fingers over your shins to keep yourself more stable on the mat; but this isn’t necessary.
Next, you will be entering happy baby pose.
Bring your knees up as close to your chest as you can manage and straighten your shins to make your feet face the ceiling. If you cannot stretch that far, then don’t worry. You only need to straighten your shins enough to be able to hold your feet. Wrap your fingers around both of your feet from the inside of each foot so you are able to hold yourself in the happy baby pose. Keep your shoulders back and relaxed against the mat and your head facing towards the ceiling.
Move your fingers as to hold onto your toes and pull slightly down on them as you are holding this position.
This stretches out your calf muscles as well as the muscles in the bottom of your feet.
Hold this position for a few breaths, making sure to keep your fingers tight as you are pinching your toes so you can feel the stretch working.
- After that, wrap your arms around the tops of your shins again, like in the baby posevariant, and roll to the right, keeping your body and rigid as possible.
Inhale again, roll to the other side on your next exhale, and hold the position there as well.
Return to the baby pose variant and face the ceiling again.
Hold this pose for a few breaths.
Bring your body up to be perpendicular to the mat.
Keep your knees tucked into your chest and your hands wrapped around your calves. Make sure your head and shoulders are both relaxed and back as you hold this position.
Pull your knees together as close as you can, keeping your feet facing forwards.
Unwrap your hands from your calves and bring them behind you. Rotate your hands so they are palms down on the mat with the fingers facing forwards. This pose will stretch the backs of your arms and your hip muscles.
Relax both your knees and your arms.
Your arms should be by your sides with your fingers facing in front of you and your knees should remain at an angle and not fully relaxed yet.
- Return to the corpse pose and remain in it for a few breaths.
You’ve now successfully cooled down.