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The dog days of summer are officially here, and you might find yourself feeling overheated, frazzled, and frustrated. Soothing, grounding yoga poses can help you smooth out that summer slump, stand taller, and have a cooler head.
Viparita Karani (Legs-up-the-Wall Pose)
From, seated bring one side hip as close as possible to the baseboard of the wall, swing your legs up the wall until you are reclined on your back with your hips close to the wall. Extend your legs up the wall. You can bend your knees slightly, especially if your hamstrings feel tight. This posture is good for low back pain and revitalizing the body. Optional prop: A folded blanket can feel really great under your sacrum. Remain in the pose for 5-20 minutes.
Try the Open Road Goods Yoga Blanket.
See also Viparita Karani to Combat Stress
Anantasana (Side-Reclining Pose)
Lie on the floor on your right. Press actively through your right heel, flex the ankle, and use the outside of the foot to stabilize the position. Bend your right elbow and support your head in your palm. Slide the elbow away from your torso to stretch the armpit. Externally rotate your left leg so the toes point toward the ceiling, then bend and draw the knee toward your torso. Step the left foot outside of your right knee.
Optional: Reach across the inside of the leg and take hold of the left big toe with your index and middle fingers. Secure the grip by wrapping the thumb around the two fingers. (If you’re not able to comfortably hold the toe, loop a strap around the sole and hold the strap.) On an inhale, extend the leg up toward the ceiling. Hold the pose for 1-2 minutes, then repeat on the other side.
See also Side Reclining Leg Lift
Parighasana (Gate Pose)
Stand on your knees. You could pad your knees with a mat or blanket. Elongate your right leg out to the right, with the heel of your foot on the floor and your toes stretching away from your body. Make sure the right leg is straight, with the knee facing the ceiling and the ankle in line with your right hip. Ground the right foot strongly. Place the left knee directly below the left hip.
Stretch both arms out to your sides, palms facing downward. In your front body, reach from your sternum through your chest muscles, lengthening along your biceps all the way into your thumbs. Be careful not to poke your rib cage forward. Feel the back body extend from the thoracic spine into the pinkies. Inhale and feel some lightness in the side body; exhale and bend at the waist, dropping the right palm down to the lower right leg and stretching the left arm up, palm facing downward. This pose energizes and lightens the side body and invites the breath to become truly three-dimensional. Hold the pose for 1-2 minutes, then repeat on the other side.
Need padding for your knees? Try this yoga blanket.
Janu Sirsasana (Head-of-the-Knee Pose)
Sit on the floor with your legs straight in front of you. Use a blanket under your buttocks if necessary. Inhale, bend your left knee, and draw your heel back toward your perineum. Rest your left foot sole lightly against your inner right thigh, and lay your outer left leg on the floor. (If your right knee doesn’t rest comfortably on the floor, support it with a folded blanket).
Inhale and lift your front torso, pressing the top of your right thigh toward the floor and extending actively through the right heel. With the arms fully extended, lengthen the front torso from the pubis to the top of the sternum and begin to reach for right foot. You can wrap a strap around your right foot, or hold any part of your foot or leg as you maintain length in your torso. Exhale and extend forward from the groins, not the hips. Be sure to engage your core as you fold, and not to pull yourself forcefully into the forward bend, hunching the back and shortening the front torso. As you descend, bend your elbows out to the sides and lift them away from the floor. Hold the pose for 1-2 minutes, then repeat on the other side.
This multi-loop yoga strap can help you find your footing in this pose.
See also Janu Sirsasana
Savasana (Corpse Pose) Variation
Prepare to lie on your back. Place a bolster under your knees. This prop placement can help make this pose more soothing for some people who experience lower back pain when lying on their backs. If you need head and neck support, you can place a folded blanket underneath the back of your head. Relax and release into the pose for 5-20 minutes (or longer!)
This yoga bolster can make your Savasana even more soothing.
See also The Challenge of Corpse Pose
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