5 Easy Yoga Poses That Will Decrease Inflammation (and Stress)

decrease inflammation
Photo Credit: Andrey Pavlov

June 14, 2021

By Gretchen Lidicker

Did you know that over 125 million people in the U.S. live with a chronic inflammatory disease? Yes, really. Given how startling those numbers are, it makes sense that people are looking for holistic ways to prevent and decrease inflammation — like yoga. Studies have demonstrated yoga’s ability to lower stress levels and positive effect on inflammatory biomarkers

We asked personal trainer and functional movement specialist Jason Williams for his top poses you can use to decrease inflammation. (Spoiler alert: They’ll also reduce your stress levels and improve overall health and well-being.) 

As part of your larger toolkit of anti-inflammatory practices — such as these 25 ways to support healthy inflammation — these yoga poses can help reduce the burden of inflammation on your body to help you feel your best.

1. Child’s pose

What it is: Child’s pose, or Balasana, stretches the muscles in your lower body, including your thighs, hips, and back, and provides relief for neck and shoulder tension.

Why it works: “This is a great universal pose because it not only stretches the hips and lower back, but it enables our rest and digest system, which can help decrease inflammation,” says Jason.  

How to do it: 

  • From a hands and knees position, spread your knees towards the sides of your yoga mat.
  • Walk your hands to the top of your mat, bringing your head to the floor, arms stretched out, and keeping your butt on your heels. 
  • Breathe into your lower back as you feel the stretch in your hips and back.
  • When you’re done, roll up to a sitting position one vertebra at a time.

2. Savasana

What it is: Savasana is also known as corpse pose. That’s because it involves lying on your back. But, despite its simplicity, a purposeful Savasana can be very powerful.

Why it works: “Savasana is another very important pose for the parasympathetic nervous system,” says Jason. Lying on your back takes away the weight bearing load on the body, and may even lower your body temperature which assists in decreasing inflammation.”

How to do it

  • Lie on your back, with your legs straight and your arms by your sides. Let your palms turn open and face up.
  • Close your eyes and breathe deeply and slowly. Let your body sink into the ground, with no strain on any muscle or joint. 
  • If you feel strain in your back, grab a lumbar back pillow or a rolled up blanket to place under your lower back for support.
  • Focus on your breathing, and stay in this pose for as long as you want.
  • When you’re finished, sit up slowly and refocus your attention on the room. 
decrease inflammation yoga
Photo Credit: Clique Images

3. Downward Dog

What it is: We’ve all seen downward dog, a pose that’s part stretching, part core-strengthening, part circulation-boosting.

Why it works: “Downward dog is an all around great total body stretch from head to toe—stretching the neck, shoulders, back, hamstrings and calves,” says Jason. “It supports healthy digestion and helps release inflammation in the body.”

How to do it: 

  • Start on all fours, with your knees hip-width apart and shoulders over wrists.
  • Ground into your palms and raise your knees off the ground. 
  • Shift your torso towards your thighs, straighten your legs (you can keep a slight bend), and lift your hips towards the sky.
  • Take a few deep breaths, peddle out your feet, and release.

4. Supine Twist

What it is: Supine means lying down (face up), so supine twist is just a twist done on your back. If you spend a lot of time sitting, it’s going to feel particularly amazing. It stretches out your chest, glutes, and oblique muscles. 

Why it works: As Jason explains it: “A spinal twist is an amazing lower and mid-back stretch. The twist is also good for the internal organs to release stress—which can of course affect inflammation levels.”

How to do it: 

  • Grab a yoga mat and lie all the down on your back.
  • Stretch your arms out wide (your body should look like the letter T).
  • Inhale and bring your right knee towards your chest.
  • On the exhale, gently let it fall to your left side.
  • Keep your shoulders on the ground and your left foot flexed 
  • If it feels good, turn your head to the right.
  • Return to the original T shape position, and then repeat with your left leg.

chronic inflammation
Photo Credit: David Prado

5. Legs Up the Wall

What it is: This pose is… exactly what it sounds like and it might just be the ultimate stress and inflammation-relieving pose.

Why it works: It boosts circulation, relieves lower back pain, and can even alleviate headaches and migraines for some people. “This pose is good for blood drainage from the lower body, which can gather from too much standing or sitting. It’s a great way to decrease inflammation in your feet and legs,” says Jason. 

How to do it: 

  • Grab a blanket, fold it, and find a wall in your home. Place the blanket close to the wall so that the edge touches it. 
  • Sit down on the blanket, and reposition it so it’s underneath your low back.
  • Raise your legs and prop them straight against the wall.
  • Shimmy your sacrum and low back closer to the wall, but not so much that your pelvis feels tucked under. The goal is to be comfortable.
  • Rest your arms by your sides, and stay in this pose for five or so minutes.
Clean Plates

Good food brings people together.
So do good emails.

Clean Plates

Good food brings people together.
So do good emails.