Most yoga practitioners are drawn to this healing art as a way to de-stress and become more centered. Indeed, yoga is about reconnecting with that essential center of yourself that exists beyond name and form. This state often brings with it a feeling of transcendent peace.
While all yoga asanas are geared toward promoting inner peace and equanimity, certain poses can take you more deeply into this state. The following are eight of the top yoga poses for promoting peace and relaxation:
1. Downward Dog
This foundational yoga pose balances chi and has an almost immediate calming effect. As prana and fluids circulate to the head and upper body, stress is cleared and the mind immediately feels more free and relaxed.
Begin on hands and knees, toes pressing into the yoga mat. Lift the body upward, head pointed downward, hamstrings engaged, hands shoulder width and fingers spread apart. Hold for as long as feels right to you, allowing a deep feeling of peace to emerge.
2. Reclined Twist
Lay on your back and pull the knees to your chest. Bring one arm outward and to the side, shoulder height with palm up. Bring the knees to the opposite side all the way to the floor. Hold as long as feels right to you, allowing calming sensations of peace to wash over you; repeat this process on the other side.
3. Wide Forward Seated Bend
Sit upright on the floor, hands on the mat behind you. Extend your legs in a “V” shape. Inhale mindfully and sit up taller and straighter; pause for a moment. Then exhale and bend forward, bringing the arms and hands forward. Repeat for five or more sequences, feeling peaceful sensations wash up and down your spine.
4. Threading the Needle
Lay on your back, knees bent and with your feet flat on the floor. Lift one knee up to the chest. Keep the hips even, and place your opposite ankle in the fold beneath your raised leg’s knee. Flex to balance and ease any feelings of tension. Raise both legs toward the chest while remaining stationary and balanced. Keep hips parallel while enjoying the slight stretch and feelings of peace. Repeat with your other leg.
5. Boat Pose
From a seated position, extend the legs forward. Balance slightly back on the sitting bones and lift the legs into a V-shape in the air as high and straight as possible. Lift the sternum and extend the arms forward, breathing deeply. Hold and feel the sensations of peace filling your body. For an easier variation, bend the knees as needed.
6. Head to the Knee Pose
Sit upright, legs forward, knees bent slightly. Bend one knee, open up at the hip and move the foot of the bent leg into the inner thigh of the opposite leg. Sit taller while inhaling. Pause, then exhale and extend forward above the other leg while supporting your body using your hands. Breathe deeply and mindfully for a few breaths, then repeat on the opposite side of your body.
7. Sedating Wall Pose
Sit or lay very close to a wall with a cushion, pillow or folded blanket nearby. Swing the legs upward until they are against while you are laying on your back, legs fully extended straight up the wall. Lay your arms outward and relaxed on the floor, palms up. Enjoy the peaceful sensations of prana flowing down the legs and circulating all throughout your body.
8. Corpse Pose
Corpse pose offers total relaxation and is an excellent way to finish a yoga session. Start by sitting with knees bent, feet on the floor. Lift the pelvis upward, pushing toward the tailbone with the hands, then resting on the floor again. Breathe in and stretch out both legs, relaxing the abdomen, feet angled slightly outward, and lay the head down. Lay in this relaxed position for at least five minutes. Allow yourself to settle deeper and deeper into the state of total inner peace.
Yoga by nature promotes peace and relaxation. However, some asanas are more effective than others. Use these eight yoga poses to connect more deeply with your transcendent, peaceful inner self.