10-Minute Recovery Flow Yoga (Active Recovery)

An essential, but often overlooked, part of your fitness routine –active recovery! Use this 10-minute recovery flow yoga to recover from intense workouts (or sitting at a desk all day). Flow through these 8 yoga stretches to speed up muscle recovery and relieve tight muscles.

Use this slow yoga flow to recover from intense training or high intensity exercises.

Think of it as yoga for athletes to increase muscle recovery.

If you’re reading this post, you likely know that exercise is GOOD for your body.  But by its nature, exercise and intense workouts put our muscles, connective tissues, joints and ligaments under stress and strain.

That means muscle recovery needs to be a fundamental part of any well-rounded fitness routine. And exactly why we include two active recovery or rest days per week in our free home workouts plans.

Add this quick, 10-minute recovery yoga flow to your fitness routine 1-2 times a week. 

Runners lunge and twist, Hip opening yoga stretch for muscle recovery

10-Minute Flow Yoga for Muscle Recovery

The perfect 10 minute active recovery workout at home! Stretching every muscle group in your body with an emphasis on the low back, hips and shoulders.

Active recovery days not only improve exercise performance in the short term (better range of motion), but passive recovery days help you stay injury-free so you can achieve your longer-term fitness goals too.

Support your fitness goals with this 10-Minute Recovery Flow Yoga.

Do these 8 restorative yoga poses for muscle recovery two or more days a week to increase mobility and relieve stiff, tight and sore muscles. You can follow this recovery flow yoga routine post exercise, or on a rest day. 

Equipment:

None, just your bodyweight. 

But I do love this oversized yoga mat. It’s durable, stays in place and gives you plenty of space for physical activity. Get a discount on this yoga mat using code: NourishMoveLove

Instructions:

Follow along with these 8 yoga stretches in the video at the top of this post. I’ll provide form cues and yoga pose progressions and regressions throughout the video.

We’ll hold each yoga pose for around 60 seconds, that said make this yoga practice your own; holding poses longer if needed.

 8 Active Recovery Yoga Stretches

  1. Forward Fold + Thoracic Spine Rotations
  2. Downward Facing Dog (Modification Quadruped Hip Circles)
  3. Puppy Dog Stretch
  4. Low Lunge Hip Rocks
  5. Low Lunge Pelvic Tilt + Quad Stretch
  6. Child’s Pose
  7. Legs Up the Wall Stretch (Modification Wide Leg Forward or Seated Fold)
  8. Reclined Squat or Wall Squat Pose (Modification Supported Yogi Squat)

See how to perform each restorative yoga pose below.

1. Forward Fold + Thoracic Spine Rotations

Benefits: Stretches your hips and hamstrings and release tight lower back muscles. The forward fold stretch has also been known to stimulate your digestive system, calm your mind and soothe your nerves.

Do This Stretch If: If you have low back pain, or if you feel tight and sore after sitting at a desk for several hours. This stretch keeps your spine strong and flexible!

forward fold and spinal rotation to release low pack pain

How to do Forward Fold + Thoracic Spine Rotations:

  1. Start standing in Mountain Pose, feet hip-distance apart (or wider if needed), toes pointing straight ahead.
  2. As you inhale, reach your hands overhead.
  3. As you exhale, soften your knees and slowly fold forward from your hips. Pushing your hips back towards the wall behind you.
  4. Keep a soft bend in your knees as you reach your fingertips towards the mat.
  5. Keep your left hand on the mat and increase the bend in your left knee as you extend your right hand overhead. Gaze follows fingertips to the ceiling.
  6. Return your right hand to the mat and repeat this same thoracic spine rotation on the left side of the body.

2. Downward Facing Dog (or modify with Quadruped Hip Circles)

Benefits: Strengthens and stretches the entire body – upper body, arms, shoulders, back, lower body, legs and feet. A great stretch for your posterior chain (backside of the body); increasing calf, ankle, hamstring and back mobility. Downward facing dog is a great way to stimulate blood circulation.

Do This Stretch If: You have a headache. Down dog is known to decrease tension and headaches by elongating the cervical spine and neck and relaxing the head.

downward facing dog | yoga stretches for recovery

If this inversion is uncomfortable, try quadruped (table top) hip circles. Or move onto pose #3, puppy dog stretch, which is just a slight inversion with the heart just higher than the head. 

How to do Downward Facing Dog:

  1. Start in a table top position (quadruped) on all fours; shoulders stacked over wrists and hips stacked over knees.
  2. Actively press your hands into the mat as you tuck your toes under.
  3. As you exhale, lift your knees off the mat straightening your legs as you press your hips up towards the ceiling.
  4. Hold this position, pressing your chest towards your thighs.

3. Puppy Dog Stretch (AKA Melting Heart Pose)

Benefits: Stretches neck, shoulders, spine and upper back.

Do This Stretch If: You need to release tension in you neck, shoulders and upper arms. I also really love doing this stretch before performing any overhead movements; a great way to increase range of motion for exercises like an overhead shoulder press.

puppy dog stretch, yoga poses for muscle recovery

How to do Puppy Dog Stretch:

  1. Start in a table top position (quadruped) on all fours; shoulders stacked over wrists and hips stacked over knees.
  2. Then walk your hands away from your body.
  3. Extending your hands as far our in front of you as possible, while keeping your hips high.
  4. Hold this position, lengthening from fingertips to tailbone with each exhale.

4. Low Lunge Hip Rocks + Hip Opening Stretch (perform on right side of body, then on left side of body)

Benefits: Opens tight hips and stretches the quad and hamstrings.

Do This Stretch If: You have tight hips. A great stretch for runners.

low lunge stretches, shift hips back and forth

How to do Low Lunge Stretches (shift hips back and forth):

  1. Start in a table top position (quadruped) on all fours; shoulders stacked over wrists and hips stacked over knees.
  2. Then step your right foot outside your right hand. Exhale as your drop your left hip towards the ground for a hip stretch.
  3. Hold this position or start to slowly shift your hips forward to increase the hip flexor stretch. Then slowly shift your hips back, straightening through your front right leg; stretching the hamstring of the front right leg.
  4. Repeat this movement shifting your hips back and forth to open the hips, quads and hamstrings.
  5. Then switch sides, performing steps 1-4 on the left side of the body.

6. Low Lunge Pelvic Tilt + Quad Stretch (perform on right side of body, then on left side of body)

Benefits: Stretches tight quadriceps, groins and hips. A great way to increase range of motion in the lower body.

Do This Stretch If: You have tight hip flexors and quads. Another great stretch for runners or anyone who sits a lot during the day.

low lunge quad stretch, hip flexor stretch

How to do a Low Lunge Quad Stretch:

  1. Start in a table top position (quadruped) on all fours; shoulders stacked over wrists and hips stacked over knees.
  2. Then step your right foot outside your right hand.
  3. Engage your core to release your hands from the mat and lift upper body upright into a half kneeling position; kneeling on your back left knee (place a towel under your back knee for additional support). Shoulders stacked over hips. Right front foot firmly on the mat and right thigh parallel to the ground.
  4. Hold this position as you tuck your tailbone under performing an anterior pelvic tilt to intensify the hip flexor, groin and quad stretch.
  5. Option to hold this position or intensify the quad stretch by pulling your back left heel towards your left butt cheek. If possible reach your left hand back to grab your left foot. Hold this quad stretch.
  6. Then switch sides, performing steps 1-5 on the other side of the body.

6. Child’s Pose

Benefits: Stretches the hips, inner thighs, feet, spine and back. A great stretch to calm your body and breath deeply.

Do This Stretch If: You want to relieve lower back back pain and stiff neck muscles.

child's pose yoga stretch

How to do Child’s Pose:

  1. Start in a table top position (quadruped) on all fours; shoulders stacked over wrists and hips stacked over knees.
  2. Keep your knees hip-width apart as you bring your big toes to touch.
  3. As you exhale, shift your hips back towards your heels and lower your torso between your knees.
  4. Then walk your hands away from your body. Extending your hands as far our in front of you as possible, shoulders relaxed.
  5. Hold this position, opening your hips and lengthening from fingertips to tailbone with each exhale.

7. Legs Up the Wall Stretch (Supported Vertical Leg Extension) 

Benefits: Stretches the hamstrings, calves, low back and neck. A great stretch for improving circulation by reducing pressure in the legs and redirecting blood flow back toward your heart.

Do This Stretch If: You want to relieve tired legs and feet. A common stretch for endurance athletes like marathon runners. Also suggested as a ‘bedtime stretch’ as this stretch has been known to help you sleep.

legs up the wall stretch to relieve tired legs

How to do Legs Up The Wall Stretch:

  1. Start seated with bent knees and your right hip against the wall.
  2. Transition to lying flat on your back as you swing your legs up; squaring your hips off so both butt cheeks are as close to the wall as possible.
  3. Straighten your legs to a comfortable position, feet flexed, heels against the wall.
  4. Place your arms in a comfortable position at your sides and breath deeply as you let the blood flow come back towards your heart.

8. Reclined Squat (Wall Squat Pose)

Benefits: Stretches the lower back, hamstrings, hips and knees. A great stretch for relaxing the pelvic floor.

Do This Stretch If: You want to open tight hips and relax your pelvic floor. Also a great prenatal yoga pose to prepare for labor.

reclined squat or wall squat pose

How to do Reclined Squat or Wall Squat Pose:

  1. Start seated with bent knees and your right hip against the wall.
  2. Transition to lying flat on your back as you swing your legs up; squaring your hips off so both butt cheeks are as close to the wall as possible.
  3. Place your feet on the wall, heels touching the wall. And slowly slide your heels down towards your hips and glutes, finding a “wall squat pose”.
  4. Place your arms in a comfortable position at your sides and breath deeply as you let your hips open, relaxing your pelvic floor.

10 Minute Active Recovery Yoga Flow

What is active recovery?

Active recovery is any kind of low-impact movement that increases blood flow through your muscles. The goal is to push lactic acid (which causes muscle soreness) through your muscles after intense exercise.

I recommend an active rest day, or an active recovery workout minimum 1-2 times a week. If you’re new to fitness, pregnant or postpartum, you may want to incorporate at 2-3 active recovery workouts a week.

Active recovery exercises have also been proven to lessen Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). DOMS is the reason why you might feel fine during your workout, and then struggle to walk down stairs 24-to-48 hours later.

Depending on your personal needs, active recovery can look like:

How does yoga help recovery?

Yoga stretches promote blood flow to help release sore muscles and increase flexibility. Recovery yoga can also reduce stress and inflammation.

Can I do this slow yoga flow pregnant?

YES! In fact, I originally created this recovery yoga flow during my second trimester of pregnancy (you can see the original prenatal recovery yoga video here).

That said, you know your body best and can modify as needed. Modifications might include: 

  • Replacing downward facing dog with table top or quadruped hip circles.
  • Replacing legs up the wall with a wide leg seated or forward fold.
  • Replacing reclined squat with a supported yogi squat.

You might also enjoy this 15-Minute Prenatal Yoga.

Pin this 10-Minute Recovery Yoga Flow

8 Recovery Yoga Stretches

More Active Recovery Workouts:

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