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Relax and De-Stress With This Restorative Yoga Flow

By: Karen Sehgal

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Updated November 15, 2019

Rest and relaxation are vital to overall well being. Everyone can benefit from mindfulness and meditation practices incorporated into their everyday lives. Yoga in general is known for its ability to provide an unwinding calm, but can be intimidating or seem time-consuming for new participants. Here I will share with you a few yoga poses that can be added easily to any regular day, without the need for a full yoga session. These simple poses will promote relaxation and improved health as they center your body and mind. 

All four poses that I am going to share with you today are restorative yoga poses, or poses that move our nervous system from fight-or-flight to rest-and-reset. Designed to soothe the body into a healing state called the relaxation response, this restorative yoga flow is about cultivating space, ease and a feeling of contentment in the body, mind and spirit.

Rest and relaxation are vital to overall well being. Everyone can benefit from mindfulness and meditation practices incorporated into their everyday lives. Yoga in general is known for its ability to provide an unwinding calm, but can be intimidating or seem time-consuming for new participants. Here I will share with you a few yoga poses that can be added easily to any regular day, without the need for a full yoga session. These simple poses will promote relaxation and improved health as they center your body and mind. 

All four poses that I am going to share with you today are restorative yoga poses, or poses that move our nervous system from fight-or-flight to rest-and-reset. Designed to sooth the body into a healing state called the relaxation response, this restorative yoga flow is about cultivating space, ease and a feeling of contentment in the body, mind and spirit.

Rest and relaxation are vital to overall well being. Everyone can benefit from mindfulness and meditation practices incorporated into their everyday lives. Yoga in general is known for its ability to provide an unwinding calm, but can be intimidating or seem time-consuming for new participants. Here I will share with you a few yoga poses that can be added easily to any regular day, without the need for a full yoga session. These simple poses will promote relaxation and improved health as they center your body and mind. 

All four poses that I am going to share with you today are restorative yoga poses, or poses that move our nervous system from fight-or-flight to rest-and-reset. Designed to sooth the body into a healing state called the relaxation response, this restorative yoga flow is about cultivating space, ease and a feeling of contentment in the body, mind and spirit.

Rest and relaxation are vital to overall well being. Everyone can benefit from mindfulness and meditation practices incorporated into their everyday lives. Yoga in general is known for its ability to provide an unwinding calm, but can be intimidating or seem time-consuming for new participants. Here I will share with you a few yoga poses that can be added easily to any regular day, without the need for a full yoga session. These simple poses will promote relaxation and improved health as they center your body and mind. 

All four poses that I am going to share with you today are restorative yoga poses, or poses that move our nervous system from fight-or-flight to rest-and-reset. Designed to sooth the body into a healing state called the relaxation response, this restorative yoga flow is about cultivating space, ease and a feeling of contentment in the body, mind and spirit.

Benefits:

  • Restoring balance and wholeness to the body, including strength and flexibility

  • Relieve, release, and help repair tissues in the body, including muscles, connective tissues, and joints

  • Helps balance our body’s main systems, such as respiratory, circulatory, lymphatic, nervous, and endocrine systems

  • Promotes the relaxation response, helping us to feel calm and relaxed

  • Creates an ocean of stillness in the mind, body, and spirit

Restorative yoga poses are practiced with little or no effort, and remind us to enjoy the journey of this moment, which is perfect as it is. The tissues in your body will begin to trust and soften after 3 to 5 minutes, and the nervous system will respond to longer holds in comfortable stillness.

You Will Need:

1 rectangular bolster, 2 yoga blocks and 1 blanket

These props were made for your comfort and ease. You can find them on Amazon under yoga props, but they can also be replaced by household items. The bolster can be replaced by a firm pillow the length on your spine and a width of at least 18 inches (couch pillows work well), and the blocks can be replaced by books.

Be patient, playful and creative, and remember that this restorative practice is supposed to feel good. If you are not comfortable, change something, or do a gentle modified version. But most importantly, keep trying—it’s worth it.

Prepare your space by giving yourself adequate time, clearing clutter from the floor, and limiting distractions. This may mean lowering the volume on surrounding sounds or turning off your phone altogether; your mind and body will thank you.

*If you may have any physical issues, please consult with your physician before starting a new exercise regimen.

Pose 1: Viparita Karani - If you only do one pose, do this one!

Try Viparita Karani by straightening your legs up a wall during the first pose in this restorative yoga flow.

Props needed: blanket (optional)

Lie on the floor with your spine perpendicular to a wall. Place your sit bones a few inches from the wall with knees hugged into chest. Slowly straighten your legs up the wall. If you’re uncomfortable, adjust the distance between your sit bones and the wall; the farther you are from the wall, the easier this stretch will become. If you need more comfort, put a folded blanket under your head or add a thin layer of cushion under your lower back and hips. Once you are comfortable, stay in this pose for 5-20 min. 

Getting out: Slowly bend your knees into your chest and pause. Roll onto your right side, with your knees still folded in, and pause. Sit up and pause. Getting out slowly ensures you don’t shock your body back into-fight-or flight.

Note: 20 minutes in a restorative pose is said to be equivalent to about 4 hours of deep sleep. Consider setting a timer so you can completely let go. 

Pose 2: Supta Baddha Konasana

Try Supta Baddha Konasana by bending your knees and placing each thigh underneath a block during the second pose of this restorative yoga flow.

Props needed: bolster, blanket and 2 blocks.

Sit on the floor with the bolster behind you and in line with your spine. Lay your whole spine onto the bolster with the blanket tri-folded under your head (not neck). Bend your knees, put the soles of your feet together and drop your knees open to the side like butterfly wings. Place one block under each thigh. Adjust the props until comfortable and stay in this pose for 5-10 min. For a more advanced position or for the deeply flexible, the blocks can be moved outward and placed under the knees, or be removed completely. You should choose the level of support that provides the most relaxation, not the most stretch.

Getting out: Use your hands to physically bring your knees together. Slowly roll onto your right side off the bolster, and pause. Use your hands to press up to a comfortable seat and pause.

Pose 3: Upavista Konasana/seated wide angle

 

Sit in a seated side angle by placing your legs in a V shape and folding your torso at your hips during this relaxing restorative yoga flow.

Props needed: bolster 

Sit on the floor with your legs wide open in a V shape with the bolster in front of you. The wider the V shape of your legs, the more difficult the stretch becomes, so choose a width you are comfortable with and settle in. You can always adjust your position if needed. If you cannot sit tall with a straight spine, place a folded blanket under your bottom. Gently fold your torso forward at the hips until you can rest completely on the bolster. If your body does not rest comfortably on the bolster, place an extra pillow or more folded blankets on top of the bolster. Stay in this pose for 3-5 minutes. 

Getting out: Slowly roll up while keeping your head down. Once you are comfortably sitting back up, you can look up, softly shake your legs to loosen the stretch, and bring your legs back to the center.


Pose 4: Salamba Savasana/ supported final rest

 

Rest, relax, and enjoy during the final resting post of Savasana in this restorative yoga flow.

Props needed: bolster, blanket 

Lie flat on your back with the blanket folded under your head (not neck). Place the bolster horizontally under your knees. The back of your heels should be resting on the floor. Open your arms wide in a V shape, with palms facing up to the sky. For extra comfort, consider an eye pillow over your eyes. Stay in this pose for 5-10 minutes, or longer. Rest, relax and enjoy! 

Getting out: It’s important to always get out of these poses as slowly and as mindfully as you got into them. Roll onto your right side and hug your knees into your chest and pause. Keep your eyes closed and stay relaxed for a few seconds. Then, use your hands to press yourself up to a comfortable seat and pause.

To enhance the experience of each pose, clear your mind and remain fully present. Notice your breath as it enters and exits your body, feel the floor or wall beneath your body, or cultivate steadfast stillness. If you have trouble holding a position because of boredom or uncomfortability with stillness, you can practice holding the pose for a little longer each time you perform it. Full mindfulness can take practice, but is worth every second.

You can cycle through each pose to create your own flow sequence, or choose the poses that relax you best. Take notice of how you feel and thank yourself for your efforts to increase the quality of your life. These poses are here for you when you are ready to restore your mind and body to peace. 

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Author: Karen Sehgal