After a day of hurtling through work, errands, and a to-do list so long it seems like a never-ending bad joke, you have little energy left for anything else. In other words, you desperately need a timeout. This is where yoga comes in.
Practicing yoga brings the body into balance by strengthening weak muscles and stretching tight ones to keep you free from injury and pain. Even better? It actually relaxes you: The deep breathing calms your nervous system, while the poses help dissolve physical tension and this yoga poses is for every ladies.
Practice these 10 poses in this order at least three times a week. Or choose two favorites and do them whenever you need to release knots of tension or calm a too-busy mind.
Stretches hips, quads, back
1. Kneel on a mat with your big toes touching and knees about hip-width apart. Sit on your heels.
2. Lay your torso between your thighs and bring your forehead to the mat. Extend your arms straight in front of you, palms on floor. Close your eyes and breathe deeply. Stay here for at least one minute.
Why it’s good for you: This go-to rest pose opens hips and relieves lower-back tightness.
Stretches spine, hamstrings, glutes, calves; strengthens deltoids, triceps
1. Start on all fours with your feet and knees hip-width apart. Position your hands about shoulder-width apart and spread your fingers wide.
2. Pressing firmly through your hands, lift your knees off the floor and straighten your legs. (If you have tight hamstrings, a gentle bend in the knees is fine).
3. Walk your hands forward a few inches and walk your feet back a few inches to lengthen the pose. Squeeze your thighs as you press them toward the back wall. Press your heels back and down toward the floor (though they might not reach the mat).
4. Relax your head and neck and let your shoulder blades slide down toward your feet. Breathe deeply. Hold for at least one minute.
Why it’s good for you: Downward–Facing Dog is a top-notch upper body strengthener. And as an inversion pose (meaning your hips are higher than your heart), it increases circulation.
Stretches hips, inner thighs, chest; strengthens quadriceps, abdomen, shoulders
1. From standing, step your feet about 4 feet apart. Turn your right foot so your toes point toward front of the mat. Turn your left foot in 30 degrees.
2. Raise your arms to shoulder height, parallel with floor, palms down. Bend your right knee so your right shin and thigh form a 90-degree angle.
3. Gently tuck your tailbone down as you draw your abdomen in. Hold for 5 deep breaths in and out through nose. Straighten your right leg and repeat on the opposite side.
Why it’s good for you: This powerful pose will grant you long, toned arms and legs, as well as a firmer core.
Strengthens arms, back, shoulders, core, quadriceps
1. Get into Downward-Facing Dog position and press into your palms and bring your chest forward so that your shoulders are directly over your wrists and you are in the top of a push-up position.
2. Press your heels toward the wall behind you and extend the crown of your head forward to form a straight line from the top of your head to your heels. Hold for at least one minute.
Why it’s good for you: Plank is a simple but challenging way to build upper body strength—using only your body weight, it works all of the major muscles in your arms, back, and core.
Stretches spine; strengthens quadriceps, ankles, back
1. Stepping your feet hip-width apart, spread through your toes to create a stable base. As you raise your arms to the sky, palms facing each other, bend your knees and sit your buttocks back as though you were sitting into chair.
2. Draw your abdomen in to eliminate any curving in your lower back. Put all your weight into your heels and be sure your knees do not extend past your toes. Hold for five deep breaths in and out through the nose. Rest for one minute. Repeat.
Why it’s good for you: This pose is injury insurance, strengthening quadriceps, which provides stronger support around your knees, making them less prone to injury. This pose also improves posture.
Stretches hips, inner thighs; strengthens legs, spine, core
1. Stand with your legs and feet together, hands on hips. Transfer your weight to your left foot as you bend your right knee and place the sole of your right foot on the inside of your left leg (beginners start at the ankle; more advanced yogis, raise your right foot to the inside of your left thigh. Do not rest your foot on your knee). Gently press your right foot against your left leg.
2. Bring your palms together in front of your heart in prayer pose. Hold for one minute on each side. More advanced yogis: Raise your arms straight directly overhead, palms facing in.
Why it’s good for you: On days when your mind feels scattered, practicing this pose will help center you.
Stretches lower back, groin, hips, ankles
1. Stand with your feet slightly wider than hip-width. Bring your palms together in front of your heart in prayer pose. Turn your toes out slightly.
2. Deeply bend your knees, squatting down. Keeping your palms together, gently press your elbows to the insides of your knees, opening up your hips. Keep your spine long and your chest open. Feel the tension in your lower back begin to melt away. Hold for at least one minute.
Why it’s good for you: Drop into this squat to relieve tummy troubles like constipation and cramps.
Strengthens core, psoas muscle, quadriceps
1. Sit with your knees bent, feet flat on the floor. Lean back slightly so you’re balancing on your sit bones (the bony parts you feel when you sit on a hard surface). Raise your legs so your shins are parallel to the floor, knees bent.
2. Extend your arms forward, parallel with floor, palms facing in. Keeping your chest high and your core engaged, begin to straighten your legs. Hold for five to 10 breaths. Repeat five times.
Why it’s good for you: Boat builds a bulletproof core without straining your neck like crunches do.
More from Prevention: The Best Strength-Training Exercises You’re Not Doing
Stretches front of body; strengthens hamstrings, glutes
1. Lying on your back, bend your knees and place the soles of your feet flat on the floor about hip-width apart. Point your toes straight to the wall in front of you. Place your arms straight along your sides, palms down.
2. Gently press into your feet as you raise your hips to the sky. Allow the front of the body to slowly expand with each breath. Hold for five to 10 breaths. Repeat three times.
Why it’s good for you: Bridge opens the chest and ribcage, deepening the breath and increasing oxygen, reenergizing the body.
Seated Half Twist Pose
Stretches hips, shoulders, back, neck; strengthens spine
1. Sit on the floor with your legs outstretched in front of you. Bring the sole of your right foot on the floor outside of your left hip (right knee pointing to the ceiling).
2. Bend your left knee and bring your left foot to the outside of your right hip. Place your right hand on the floor just behind your right hip. Lift your left arm to the ceiling. As you exhale, bend your left arm and place your left elbow to the outside of your right knee.
3. Lengthen your spine with each inhale and twist deeper with each exhale. Press your left elbow into your right leg to help revolve your upper body more and more. Look to the wall behind you. Hold for 5 to 10 deep breaths. Repeat on opposite side.
Why it’s good for you: This pose improves digestion by massaging and increasing blood flow in the lower belly.