5 Restorative Yoga Poses To Help You Wind Down After A Long Day
Restorative yoga is an invitation to slow down, retreat inwards and silence the chatter. In a culture where the ongoing mantra is a flood of “do, do, do- achieve, achieve, achieve- be better, better, better…” an invitation to quiet the mind, step outside of that headspace and into the body and realm of the breath is not only relaxing, but life-altering.
Meditative and slow, restorative yoga draws upon the yogic limb of pratyahara or withdrawal of the senses, offering practitioners the opportunity to quiet the mind and cultivate peace. Below, you’ll find five restorative yoga poses to help you wind down after a long day.
Draw your big toes together and separate your knees mat-width apart to make room for your torso. If you have a bolster, you can place it in front of you lengthwise to support your torso. Sink down through your hips bringing your heart and third eye center to the mat or bolster. As you settle in place, extend your fingers towards the front of the mat and your hips towards your heels.
The child’s pose encourages introspection and calm. Folding the body into this shape relaxes and eases the mind and is particularly beneficial for sufferers of anxiety since it has an instant calming effect on the brain. Child’s pose is also a hip opener known to help release pent up emotion and ease low back pain.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose
Bring the soles of your feet together as your knees release towards the floor or mat. Your legs will make a diamond shape. If you have a bolster, or you can use a pillow as well, place it behind you so the base of the bolster is brushing against your sacrum. You may want to place blocks beneath your knees, or books if you don’t have blocks.
Slowly recline backward, letting your spine run the length of the bolster, pillow or mat. Open your arms out to the side encouraging your shoulder blades to soften and release. The reclining bound angle pose instantly relaxes the mind, lowers blood pressure, helps with depression, and stimulates the heart and circulation. Reclining bound angle pose is the perfect anecdote to a day spent behind a desk hunched over a computer.
Legs Up the Wall
Bring the base of your mat to a wall. Place a pillow or folded blanket near the wall. Take a seat on the edge of your blanket bringing your shoulder and hip flush to the wall. Recline and bring your elbows to the mat as you fan your legs up the wall. You may need to press your elbows into the mat to scoot forward until your bottom and legs are being supported by the wall. Allow your back and head to rest on the floor or mat. Legs up the wall is an instant relaxer and neurological soother.
This pose combats insomnia, reduces stress and anxiety, can help reduce blood pressure and boosts the immune system.
Lay on your belly. Draw your big toes together and let your heels splay out to the side. Bend your arms and stack one hand on top of the other. Rest your forehead on your hands. Drop your shoulders away from your ears and tilt your chin slightly towards your chest. Grounding and relaxing, crocodile pose opens the lungs encouraging calm deep breaths known to help relieve the symptoms of asthma. In addition, crocodile pose stretches the hip muscles and can relieve sciatica discomfort.
Reclined Spinal Twist
Lay on your back with your arms out to the side. Bend your legs bringing the soles of your feet to the mat, then drop your knees to one side. Try to not lift the opposing hip and shoulder and keep your back squared. You can lessen the intensity of this twist by placing a pillow between your legs to keep your knees and ankles from pressing into each other. Work both sides of the body. The reclined spinal twist detoxifies, massages and stimulates the internal organs. This pose also creates space in the lower back, stimulates digestion, relaxes the shoulders and calms and quiets the mind.
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