Relax and De-Stress With This Restorative Yoga Flow
By: Karen Sehgal
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.
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. Thee bolster can be replaced by a firm pillow the length on your spine and width of at least 18 inches (couch pillow works well), and the blocks can be replaced by books.
Be patient, playful and creative, and remember that this restorative yoga flow is supposed to feel good. If you are not comfortable, change something. But most importantly, keep trying—it’s worth it.
*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!
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. 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 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 let go.
Pose 2: Supta Baddha Konasana
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.
Getting out: Use your hands to 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
Props needed: bolster
Sit on the floor with your legs wide open in a V shape with the bolster in front of you. 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 pose 3-5 minutes.
Getting out: Slowly roll up while keeping your head down. Once you are comfortably sitting back up, you can look up and bring your legs back to the center.
Pose 4: Salamba Savasana/ supported final rest
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. Take notice of how you feel and thank yourself for your efforts to increase the quality of your life.
About Karen Sehgal
Karen Sehgal has spent her life dedicated to the study of the mind, body and spirit. She currently teaches Yoga at studio, Palos Verdes Yoga and Fitness, located in Rancho Palos Verdes, CA, and is also the owner of Joy of Wellness Retreats. Karen is also an esteemed member of the Sun Chlorella Advisory Board.