Cranky or exhausted? These gentle moves can help you bust out of misery faster than popping a pill can.
Whether you’re sleepdeprived or your head is pounding from excessive partying, there’s a yoga pose to make you feel better. Jolene Lim and Suraya Sam, instructors and founders of Strala Yoga Singapore, have created a beginner-friendly sequence for common busy-people problems: jet lag, hangover and low moods. “These poses help to remove tension and calm you down. When your mind and body are at ease, you’ll be in a stronger position to deal with anything negative,” says Jolene.
Do the poses in order and without resting. Spend two to five minutes in each pose, and keep a comfortable pace.
A yoga mat.
1 CHILD Works back, hips, thighs and ankles Sit on heels with knees wider than hip-width apart. Stretch forward and lower torso until it rests between thighs. Lengthen spine and keep back straight. Rest forehead on mat and extend arms forward, letting shoulders sink towards mat [shown]. Hold for two minutes.
2 CAT & COW Works neck, chest, back and core Get on all fours, with wrists and shoulders aligned, and knees under hips. Keep spine neutral (not arched). Engaging core, gently round spine and shift gaze to belly [a]. Hold for three seconds, then reverse move to return to [a]. Arch back and let belly sink towards mat. Shift gaze upwards [b]. Hold for three seconds. Repeat for two minutes.
3 SQUAT WITH TWIST Works chest, back, hips, legs and glutes Get into low squat with legs wide apart and heels on mat. Lean forward and position left palm directly under face [a]. Twist upper torso right as you extend right arm towards ceiling [b]. Hold for three breaths. Reverse move to return to starting position; switch sides. Repeat for two minutes.
4/ SEATED WIDE-LEGGED FORWARD FOLD Works hips, inner thighs and hamstrings Sit upright with legs wide apart. Lean forward, lower torso and walk palms away from you until you feel a stretch in hamstrings [shown]. Hold for two minutes.
1 DOWNWARD DOG Works arms, shoulders, hamstrings and calves Get on all fours, with hands shoulder-width apart, slightly in front of shoulders, and knees directly under hips. Spreading fingers wide and pressing firmly into mat, lift knees off floor. Lengthen spine and lift butt towards ceiling as you straighten legs. Lower heels to mat. Keep head between upper arms [shown]. Hold for two minutes.
2 LOW LUNGE Works thighs, chest and arms From Downward Dog, bring one leg forward, stepping foot between hands. Knee should be aligned with ankle and toes should point forward. Lower left knee to mat and look ahead [a]. Sweep arms to sides and upwards as you lean back, lifting chest towards ceiling. You will feel your torso lengthening. Gaze up [a]. Hold for a minute. Return to Downward Dog; switch sides.
3 WARRIOR 2 Works legs, chest and shoulders Stand at front of mat with toes pointing forward. Take a big step backwards with right leg. With left foot and knee still pointing forward, turn torso and right foot towards right. Raise arms to shoulder level, palms facing down and shoulders relaxed. Bend left knee till it is directly above ankle; adjust stance so left thigh is parallel to mat. Lengthen spine and keep shoulders directly over pelvis. Turn head towards left [shown]. Hold for a minute. Return to starting position; switch sides.
4 EXTENDED SIDE ANGLE Works legs, chest, waist and shoulders From Warrior 2, shift weight to left leg, keeping toes grounded. Rest left forearm on left thigh to stabilise. Roll right hip slightly forward and rotate torso slightly backwards. Extend right arm towards ceiling so you feel a stretch along right side of torso. Gaze upwards [shown]. Hold for a minute. Switch sides.
1 BOAT Works abs, hips and back Sit with knees bent, feet on mat. Extending arms forward at shoulder height, lean back slightly and lift feet till shins are parallel to mat. Keep legs bent and palms facing inwards [a]. Hold for three seconds, then slowly lower torso, arms and legs (straightening as you go) until they almost touch mat [b]. Hold for three seconds and return to [a]. Repeat for two minutes.
2 BRIDGE Works abs, chest, back, thighs and glutes Lie face up with arms at sides, knees bent and feet on mat with heels directly under knees to start [a]. Engaging core and thigh muscles, lift butt until thighs are almost parallel to mat. Push knees away from hips and lengthen spine. You may clasp hands together [b]. Hold for a minute. Do three reps.
3 WHEEL Works arms, chest, abs, back, butt and legs Lie face up with knees bent, feet on mat with heels directly under knees to start. Bend elbows and place palms beside head, fingers pointing towards shoulders. Lift butt and lower crown to mat [a]. Pressing feet and hands into mat, lift head and hips as high as possible. Straighten arms and keep knees pointing in same direction as feet. Rise on balls of feet to deepen stretch [b]. Hold for 10 seconds. Slowly lower hips to return to starting position; repeat for two minutes.
4 HAPPY BABY Works back and inner thighs Lie face up and bring knees to belly. Grabbing outsides of feet with hands, widen knees and bring them close to torso, ankles directly over knees [shown]. Hold for two minutes.