Circulation might not be the sexiest thing on your self care list, but a lack of it can cause a host of problems in your body like fluid retention, swelling, and breakouts. The circulatory system pumps blood throughout the body, delivering oxygen to and carrying waste products away from cells — not sexy, but super important. Yoga is one of the most effective ways to increase circulation, and when your blood is effortlessly flowing, it naturally gets your skin glowing.
Holding the following yoga poses will increase circulation throughout your spine, glands and organs, delivering that fresh blood and oxygen your body craves.
Legs in Air
Inverting with your legs up the wall is the exact opposite of our standard seated posture throughout the day. This pose uses gravity and stretches the thigh muscles, facilitating circulation to push impure blood from the legs and pelvis towards heart.
How to: You can do this pose with your hips up against a wall, or as shown.
Lie on your mat with your knees bent, feet on the floor. Lift your hips and place a block, or a firm cushion underneath your sacrum. Engage your core and with bent knees lift your legs up toward the ceiling, pressing your sacrum into the block for stability, and your shoulders into the mat. Flex your feet and straighten your legs; engage by pressing your thighs away and pulling your toes toward your face. Stay here for at least 10 deep breaths.
Modification: Leave your hips on the floor and extend your legs perpendicular to the floor into an ‘L’ shape. You won’t get the full benefits, as your hips aren’t higher than your heart, but this will still relieve fluid built up in your legs.
This pose is great for circulation because your hips are higher than your heart, which facilitates blood flow toward the upper body and brain.
How to: Start in a plank position with your shoulders over your wrists. Engage your core, and keeping the distance between your hands and feet, isometrically push your hands forward into the mat as you push your hips back toward the wall behind you. Keep your ears in line with your elbows and gaze between your toes or toward your navel. Press your thighs back, without locking your knees, as you move your heels toward the floor. Lower your knees if you get lightheaded.
Modification: If you have wrist issues, you can do this pose on your forearms. If you want to kick it up a notch you can lift one leg back behind you at a time and lengthen through the heel.
This pose increases circulation to the heart and lungs by expanding the chest.
How to: Start kneeling on your mat with your hips over your knees, and your ankles in line with your knees; toes tucked. Bring your hands behind your back, palms on your sacrum, fingers toward the mat. Hug your elbows in toward one another, opening your chest as you broaden your shoulders. Lift your sternum up toward the ceiling, engage your core, and slowly create a backbend in the upper thoracic spine. If you feel comfortable here, you can lower your hands to your heels, but keep lifting your heart toward the ceiling and press your hips forward over your knees. Open your throat and let your head reach back behind you. Hold here for 5 breaths and engage your core as you slowly lift back up.
Modification: If this pose bothers your knees, double your mat or place a blanket under your knees. If you have any neck issues keep your chin tucked into your chest.
This pose increases blood flow to the torso by opening the chest and expanding the lungs.
How to: Stand with your feet three to four feet apart; right foot at 12 o’clock and left foot at 10 o’clock. Bring your arms out into a ‘T’ position and lengthen from your hips to your armpits. Keep your spine long as you lean out over the right leg; bring your right hand down to your shin, ankle, or to the floor, and your left hand up toward the sky. Roll your right hip under and open your left hip toward the sky. Bring your shoulders back toward the wall behind you and roll the bottom side of the ribcage up. Gaze up at your left hand. Repeat on the other side.
Modifications: Use a block under your bottom hand if it’s too much of a stretch to bring it down further. Keep your chin in line with the sternum if you have any neck issues.
This pose is both a heart opener and an inversion as it gets the blood pumping toward the heart and away from the pelvis. It also circulates blood to the brain, and encourages venous return of the blood, which relaxes and slows down the heart rate.
How to: Lie on your back with your feet hip distance apart, knees bent, ankles under the knees. Bend your elbows and bring your palms by your ears on the mat, fingers facing your shoulders. Press into your hands and your feet and engage the core to lift your hips off the floor. Keep your feet parallel and extend your tailbone toward your knees. Press your shoulder blades down your back and straighten your arms; try to bring your chest toward the wall you are looking at so your shoulders are eventually over your wrists. Take 3-10 breaths here, letting your head hang toward the floor, then tuck your chin into your chest and slowly lower down. Watch this video for full instruction and modifications.
Modification: Keep your upper back on the floor and just lift your hips.