Muscle cramps are an unfortunate and painful occurrence that will affect the majority of American adults at some point in their lives. The root causes are often multifactorial, and there are a number of ways to combat them, from supplements to heat pads, stretching, massage, and yoga.

Yoga has a myriad of benefits, not least the ability to relax and release pain and tension in tight and tired muscles, and even a short ten-minute daily program can, over time, help alleviate or prevent the symptoms of muscle cramps and improve your overall physical and mental wellbeing.

Shavasana (Corpse Pose) – Commonly practiced at the end of a session, Shavasana is the simplest of yoga poses, yet done correctly can help relax all of the muscles in your body and promote physical and mental wellbeing.

  • Lie flat with your back on a mat.
  • Relax your legs and let them fall open so they are slightly wider than hip-width apart.
  • Do the same with the arms so they are at approx 45 degrees from your body and your palms are facing upwards.
  • Close your eyes and try to completely relax your body. Focus on each part of your body from the top of your head to the feet, ensuring your muscles are completely released.
  • Breathe slowly and deeply, try to avoid any mental distraction by concentrating solely on your breath.
  • Stay in the position for as long as you like. To release, breathe deeply, begin to wriggle your limbs, then stretch your arms overhead and turn onto one side so you are in a fetal position. Once you are ready, slowly inhale and use your hands to help you into a seated position

Uttanasana (Standing forward fold) – A simple but highly effective stretch that is super beneficial for leg strengthening and flexibility, and for releasing tension in your back muscles, as well as aiding digestion and relaxation.

  • Stand upright on your mat with your arms by your sides and your legs either tight together with your feet arch to arch or hip-width apart.
  • Allow your knees to bend slightly, inhale and reach your arms up toward the sky.
  • Exhale and as you do bend forward at the hips, keeping your back straight, so your head is facing your knees.
  • Allow your arms to hang loose or grab your opposite elbows and rock gently from side to side.
  • Hold the position for up to 30 seconds. To come out of it, place your hands on your hips, inhale and rise up slowly to a standing position.
  • Repeat as many times as you like.

Supta Padangusthasana (Reclining Hand to Toe Pose) – Highly effective at relaxing and increasing flexibility in the calf and thigh muscles, and releasing tension and compression in the lower back.

  • Lie flat with your back on the mat and your legs extended and flexed (Feel free to use a folded blanket or small pillow to support your head)
  • Inhale deeply, and on the exhale, bend your right knee and using both hands pull it slowly towards your torso until your thigh is touching your belly (or as close as you can get it)
  • Inhale and slowly extend your right leg upwards. Try and straighten it as much as possible using your hands to support the back of your ankle (If required your can place a small strap around the ball of your foot and hold it with both hands)
  • For a deeper stretch, continue to hold the back of your ankle (or the strap) with both hands, and slowly pull your leg in towards your chest.
  • Hold the pose for around 30 seconds breathing deeply.
  • Release and do the same on the other side

Parsvottanasana (Pyramid Pose) – Great for stretching out the hamstring and calve muscles it can also be therapeutic for those with foot problems while additionally, it improves core strength, activates the muscles around your hips and pelvis, and aids digestion,

  • Begin standing upright on your mat with your arms by your sides and your feet hip-width apart.
  • Place your hands on your hips, and ensuring your hipbones stay square to the front of your mat, step your left foot approx 3-4 feet back.
  • Line your feet up heel to heel, and turn your back foot to a 45-degree angle.
  • Inhale and lengthen your spine, then on the exhale reach your arms behind your back and grasp each elbow with the opposite hand, or depending on your flexibility, place your hands together in a reverse prayer position, with your fingers facing towards the sky.
  • Inhale deeply and on the exhale slowly bend at the hips so your torso folds over your front leg. Try to keep your spine lengthened and your shoulder blades drawn back without overarching your back.
  • Once you have reached your limit, release the arms and let them hang towards the floor touching the ground on either side of your front foot.
  • Hold for 30 seconds, breathing deeply.
  • To release, place your hands on your hips, press firmly into your back foot, and slowly lift your torso.
  • Return to your original standing position and then do the same on the other side.

Utthita Trikonasana (Triangle Pose) This foundation pose is particularly great for your quadriceps and hamstring muscles, though also strengthens and increases flexibility in your calve, shoulders, chest, and spine.

  • Begin standing upright on your mat with your arms by your sides and your feet hip-width apart.
  • Inhale deeply, and on the exhale step your feet so they are approx 3.5 – 4ft apart.
  • Raise your arms so they are level with the shoulders, parallel to the floor, with your palms facing down.
  • Turn your left foot out slightly and your right foot towards the front of the mat until it is at a 90-degree angle.
  • Try to keep your back foot planted firmly into the mat, and your left and right arms extended so that your shoulder blades are wide apart.
  • Once you have reached your limit, rest your right hand either on your ankle, your shin, or the floor outside of your right foot
  • Turn your head to the left so it is facing the sky
  • Hold for 30 seconds – 1 minute, breathing deeply
  • To come out of the posture, inhale deeply, press into your back foot, and rise up slowly.
  • Return to your original standing position and then do the same on the other side

Utthita Balasana (Extended Child’s Pose) This gentle and relaxing pose is great for stretching all the back muscles, along with the glutes, quads, knees, and ankles

  • Kneel on the floor with your toes together and your knees hip-width apart.
  • Sit upright so that your buttocks are resting on your heels and rest your hands on your thighs
  • Inhale, and on the exhale slowly and gently lean forwards with your arms extended and the palms facing down, keeping your legs in the same position until your forehead rests against the mat.
  • Retain the position for as long as you feel comfortable, breathing deeply (between 30 seconds and several minutes)
  • Repeat as many times as you like.