7 Best Cool Down Yoga Poses To Wind Down A Practice

When we engage in the practice of yoga asana, it is important to understand the arc of the yoga class in order to, as a practitioner or as a teacher, create a sequence that is supportive for you or your students.

In the same way that warming up at the beginning will vastly affect the quality of your practice and how you’re able to show up within it, taking time at the end to cool down and integrate the experience also matters.

Take the time to counteract the work and the shapes that you’ve been working on in your sequence in order to bring balance to your body, mind, and spirit.

In this article, we share some of the best cool down yoga poses to wind down your practice and help you close up the sequence in a purposeful way.

Read on to learn more about:

  • 2 Best Cool Down Yoga Poses to do Seated
  • 2 Best Cool Down Yoga Poses to do Prone
  • 3 Best Cool Down Yoga Poses to do Supine

2 Best Cool Down Yoga Poses to do Seated

1. Janu Sirsasana (Head to Knee Pose) | The Best Cool Down Yoga Pose

Head to knee pose is a seated forward bend posture.

This is one of the best cool down yoga poses because as a forward fold, it promotes a calm mind, reduces stress, and can lower blood pressure.

One of the areas of your body that may hold the most tension throughout daily activities as well as when practicing yoga, are your hips, legs, and feet.

two women doing head to knee forward folds on brightly coloured yoga mats, one of the best cool down yoga poses

How to get there:

1. To practice Janu Sirsasana, find a comfortable seat with your sitting bones grounded and your spine long. Extend your left leg forward, and draw your right foot to the inside of your left shin or thigh as you bend the right knee.

2. If your right knee is floating, place a blanket or block underneath it for support.

3. If your spine rounds, soften your left knee and perhaps place a blanket or block underneath that extended leg.

4. Inhale, lengthen your spine, frame your left leg with both hands on blocks or the ground.

5. Exhale, slowly walk your hands forward, hinging at your hips and keeping your heart lifted and your gaze (drishti) toward your toes or your neck neutral.

6. Flex through your extended foot to create more sensation on the back of the leg.

7. Remain there for 3 to 5 breaths.

8. Switch sides and repeat.

By lengthening your spine and resting the abdomen on the extended leg, you massage the internal organs.

2. Upavistha Konasana (Seated Wide Legged Forward Fold)

To continue to stretch your hamstrings and inner thighs, as well as open your hips and back body, consider giving this yoga posture a try, as it is one of the best cool down yoga poses for the lower body.

a woman doing a wide legged forward fold

How to get there:

1. Beginning in Dandasana with your sitting bones rooted, or sitting on the edge of a blanket, widen your feet out as little or as much as you’d like.

2. Begin with your knees soft to notice the correlation between your hamstring and lower back access, and from there begin to extend your legs if you choose so.

3. Bring your hands in front of you on blocks or the ground.

4. Inhale, lengthen your spine.

5. Exhale, walk your hands or blocks forward, hinging at the hips and keeping your spine long.

6. Once you find as much length and sensation as you want, perhaps soften your elbows or chest to a bolster, block, or the ground.

Breathe.

2 Best Cool Down Yoga Poses to do Prone

1. Child’s Pose (Balasana)

Child’s pose is great to take any time you are practicing and need to rest for a moment, take a breather, and release some heat before continuing your practice

It’s also a great pose to take toward the end of your sequence, when you’re starting to cool down.

It’s the best cool down yoga pose if you’d like to calm your mind quickly, stretch out through your spine, and open up your hips.

a group of yoga students doing child's pose on a deck

How to get there:

1. Come to table top, and bring your big toes toward each other as you widen your knees.

2. Send your hips as far back towards your heels as feels good, and either place a block under your forehead or take it to the ground, extending both arms forward with your palms facing down.

Take 3 to 5 breaths there.

2. Hamsasana (Swan Pose)

Known as Swan pose in Yin Yoga, and as half pigeon (ardha kapotanasana) in other asana traditions like Hatha yoga, Hamsasana is one of the best cool down yoga poses after a practice that contained a good amount of leg and hip strengthening, as well as if you need a posture to help you open up your hips, your psoas (hip flexor) and invite more flexibility in those areas.

a man doing a pigeon pose in a white yoga studio

How to get there:

1. To practice it, from table top or downward facing dog, lift your right leg back,

2. Exhale, bring your right knee to your right wrist, lower it to the earth, and lower your chin diagonally down, bringing your right foot directly in front of your left hip bone.

3. Lower your left knee to the ground behind you and extend your leg as far back behind you as you’d like, creating more opening on your left psoas.

4. Keep your back toes on the floor for a couple of breaths to make sure your hips are square to the front.

5. If there is a gap under your right buttocks, place a block, blanket, or pillow underneath it to support.

6. You can stay upright, or on your next inhale find more leght through your spine,

7. Exhale walk your hands forward as you hinge at your hips and take your chest forward and down.

Use blocks or the ground to rest your forehead down if you’d like.

Breathe.

8. Repeat on the other side with a downward dog or table top pose in between.

If you have any knee or lower back issues, or you simply rather explore similar energetics in a different shape, consider laying on your back and taking supine reclined pigeon pose, Supta Kapotasana instead.

3 Best Cool Down Yoga Poses to do Supine (on your Back)

1. Ananda Balasana (Happy Baby Pose)

Requiring a bit less physical effort than other postures due to being performed on the back, happy baby will be the best cool down yoga pose if you’re looking to stretch your inner thighs, inner groins your hips and your hamstrings.

For some, it’ll create sensation on their shoulders and chest as well. It also supports calming the brain and helps relieve stress, anxiety, and fatigue

a woman doing a happy baby yoga pose in her bedroom

How to get there:

1. To give it a try, start laying down on your back.

2. Bring both knees up toward your chest, but take them a bit wider, toward your armpits or shoulders.

3. Make sure your whole spine remains grounded.

4. Bend your knees and send the soles of your feet to face the ceiling.

5. Inhale, thread both arms to the insides of your knees and bring your hands to your calves, shins, ankles or outsides of your feet.

6. Exhale, soften into the posture.

7. Breathe.

8. Perhaps rock a bit side to side, like a baby would; adding some joyful movement into your cool down.

If your hips are a bit tighter, consider doing one leg at a time, taking ardha ananda balasana.

2. Viparita Karani (Legs Up the Wall)

If you have a wall (or a sturdy chair) nearby, consider exploring Viparita Karani, especially if you’re practicing in the evening to release the day, or before bed.

Legs up the wall is the best cool down yoga pose to ground you and relax you.

This posture is the best cool down yoga pose to improve circulation as well as reduce leg swelling since it is an inversion.

a woman doing a legs up the wall yoga pose

How to get there:

1. If you want to give it a try, find a wall near you, and bring your right hip and shoulder right next to the wall.

2. Slowly lift your legs up toward the wall as you bring your back to the floor.

3. Keep your hips connected to where the ground and the wall meet.

4. You can keep your knee as bent as you’d like.

5. Perhaps your arms rest next to your body or on your abdomen.

6. Breathe there for a few minutes.

3. Supta Matsyendrasana | Supine Spinal Twist

A supine twist at the end of your practice is one of the best cool down yoga poses to release tension and lengthen your whole spine, but especially your middle back. Supine twists stretch your glutes and your hip external rotators, and it is also a wonderful posture to ease digestive discomfort.

a woman doing a full spinal twisting yoga pose, one of the best cool down yoga poses

How to get there:

1. Try it out by laying on your back and hugging your knees into your chest.

2. Inhale, open your arms wide like a T.

3. Exhale surrender both knees to the left. Your knees don’t need to touch nor reach the floor. Use a block or two to fill in the gaps and relax in the posture.

4. Keep your right shoulder grounded, and for a bit of a stretch on the neck, look to the right.

5. Take a few breaths, come back through center, and switch sides.

Conclusion

These are only some of the best cool down yoga poses for you to get started, but what you choose to end your practice with will depend greatly on the practice as a whole.

If you’re looking for ultimate relaxation and release though, the best cool down yoga pose to try is Savasana. It will invite you to fully let go physically and mentally, and be; simple, yet not easy.

For more in depth asana descriptions, benefits, and tips, check out our pose library.

Photo of author
Laia Bové (she/her) is an Afro-Catalan yoga and meditation teacher and freelance writer currently living in Tampa Bay, United States. She is a former professional figure skater and has been teaching movement, yoga and meditation for over 11 years. Laia is E-RYT 500 & YACEP registered with the Yoga Alliance and currently offers group classes, private sessions both in person and virtually and she also leads workshops, retreats, and teacher trainings with a strong focus on accessibility and inclusivity. Laia teaches yoga with the intent to create a space for people of all backgrounds, abilities, shapes, and identities where they can feel empowered and learn tools that will support them in their lives.

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