Counteract the stress of your busy day and unwind with a twenty-five minute restorative yoga practice. Restorative yoga is a slow, soothing practice designed to pacify the nervous system and calm the mind. By using props to support the weight of your body, restorative yoga allows you to completely relax. These five poses are perfect to practice at the end of the day and will also help prepare your body for deep sleep. Hold each pose for about five minutes.
Come to sit on your mat and place the short edge of the bolster by your hip. Take a deep breath as you inhale, then twist and fold over the bolster as you exhale. Place whichever cheek feels comfortable to the bolster. This gentle twist gently mobilizes the spine and offers a nourishing massage for the internal organs. Breathe deeply. Repeat on the second side.
Sitting on your mat, place the short end of your bolster behind you about two feet from your pelvis. Recline onto your bolster, ensuring that the bottom edge of the bolster lines up with the bottom tips of your shoulder blades. Optional: place a blanket under your head. This sweet and gentle backbend helps to open the upper chest, which often gets compressed and tight throughout the day.
Place the bolster horizontally across your mat behind you. Recline onto the bolster, positioning the bottom edge of the bolster in line with the bottom tips of your shoulder blades. Your arms should rest on the opposite side of your bolster. Breathe and enjoy the opening of the chest. Optional: place a folded blanket under your head. If the backbend feels too intense, place a folded blanket or chip foam block under your hips as well. This deep backbend helps to open the pectoral muscles and shoulders.
Lay on your back with your knees bent the bolster positioned horizontally across your mat unders your knees. Lift your hips, slide the bolster under your hips, then lower your hips down. The pelvis should feel well supported. Draw one knee into your chest at a time, then straighten your legs up towards the sky. The knees can remain bent. Keep the chest wide, and allow the weight of your pelvis to settle onto the mat. This restorative inversion is excellent for lymphatic drainage.
For your savasana, place the bolster beneath the hollows of your knees in order to facilitate a gentle re-integration of the femurs into the hip sockets. Completely relax, and allow your body to be supported by the mat and the bolster. Optional: use a blanket to cover your body for warmth.
A yogi, writer, and educational designer, Rachel loves helping others explore and express their passion and potential. As a designer, she helps studios and yoga teachers create their dream teacher trainings. As a writer and speaker, she continually wrestles with the juicy bits of life: relationships, anxiety, depression, and discovering meaning in this crazy, wildish world. Author: Wit and Wisdom from the Yoga Mat, Head Over Heels: A Yogi's Guide To Dating. E-RYT 500, YACEP, MFA, MSci. Meet her at Rachelyoga.com.
Gratitude is an attitude that can be cultivated not only around Thanksgiving for blessings in our lives, but during each moment of life — towards ourselves! Our brains are programmed to protect and to survive, and when we live a life out in the world it is nearly impossible to avoid feelings of self-judgment or unworthiness.