There are a few reasons I love finishing out my workouts with yoga. Even if it's only 15 minutes of it.
- You've already torn your body apart, and it is most definitely warm, so the time for long stretching is at hand. Lengthen the muscles after they've done the work needed.
- Stretching will help you to relax any tension you've created through lifting. Anecdotally, I get waaaaay less muscle cramps if I keep up yoga after lifting regularly.
- Somewhere around the age of 23-26 your spinal discs stop replenishing themselves on their own. They need you to wring them out like a sponge in order to flush fluid through them. By working our spines through the entire range of motion we decompress them from our lifting and ensure a long, healthy relationship with our spine.
- The movements of yoga help pump blood through the entire body. Sounds a little bro-sciency, I know, but keeping up moving will help you to recover more than falling over in a lump. Whether its going for a walk or doing some yoga. They call it Active Recovery in the biz.
- It's calming for the mind as well. Ain't nothing like a corpse pose after a heavy workout. Plus, if you work out at night, it's a great way to transition towards sleepy-time.
Here are the basic yoga routines I'll use. On any given day I'll mix and match, or just make things up. Poses in italics denote you should do the pose on both sides of the body. I try to hold each pose for around 5 breaths. Depending on what's going on that day I may repeat portions of the sequences.
Some of these poses, especially the hip ones (bound angle, pigeon, etc.), I'll do in a more yin-style. That is, holding them for 3-5 minutes.
Straight Arm Wall Stretch
Bent Arm Wall Stretch
Deep Squat w/ Internal Shoulder Rotation
½ Forward Bend
Full Forward Bend
Grounded Lunge (opp. side)
Seated Fwd Bend
Twisted Seated Fwd Bend
Ankle to knee Pose
Warrior I > Warrior II > Triangle
Standing 1 leg foot hold
Drinking Bird (Warrior III)
Lying knee to chest
Seated Fwd Bend
Other than yoga, I might consider getting a walk in, but on a whole, I don't really feel that cool-downs are nearly as necessary as warm-ups. I have to reiterate though, THAT'S JUST ME. If you're doing something and it works, keep it up! There's so much variation in the world - genetics, diet, stress, environment, etc. that no one is going to get the same results as someone else.
Alternatively, I say just drink some water, get a protein shake, sit down for 10-15 minutes, then be on your way!