Holding Tension in Your Body? Relax and Unwind With These Restorative Yoga Poses

Whether you're a regular yogi or not, it's time to start incorporating restorative yoga poses into your fitness routine. Just like stretching before and after a cardio workout helps your muscles recover, these poses are held for longer to help relax the mind and body. "Restorative yoga provides pause through allowing the nervous system to shift from fight-or-flight into a relaxation response," Yvonne O'Garro, restorative and Hatha yoga teacher of Yvonne Henrietta Yoga, told POPSUGAR. "This shift takes about 15 minutes, which is why the poses are held for about five to 10 minutes each."

Try these few poses to decrease stress, increase your overall wellbeing, and soothe your nerves. If you need a little extra support, do the modification of each pose. This will allow you to safely sink deeper into the poses, so that you can hold them for longer without causing added stress or discomfort to your joints. The props below will help.

Props You'll Need:

  • A bolster (You can also fold a pillow in half, wrap a towel around it, and put it into a pillow case, if you don't have a bolster.)
  • Yoga blocks (Try hardcover books if you don't have any.)
  • Blankets or bath towels
Child's Pose
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Child's Pose

  • Kneel on your mat with your knees hips-width distance apart, and your big toes touching behind you. Take a deep breath in and, as you exhale, lie your torso over your thighs. Try to lengthen your neck and spine by drawing your ribs away from your tailbone and the crown of your head away from your shoulders.
  • Rest your arms beside your legs, with palms facing up, or try extending your arms out in front of you. Hold for five minutes.

Modification: Spread a blanket wide over your yoga mat. Stack the two yoga blocks on the lowest height, horizontally at the top of the mat, then rest the bolster vertically on the block stack to create an incline. Kneel in front of the bolster, with your big toes touching and knees wide around the bolster. Sit on your heels and fold forward into the bolster, turning your head to the side.

Downward-Facing Revolved Abdominal Twist
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Downward-Facing Revolved Abdominal Twist

  • Begin on your hands and knees. Your wrists should be underneath your shoulders, and your knees underneath your hips.
  • Inhale as you tuck your toes under your heels. Then exhale to lift your hips, coming into an upside down "V" shape called Downward Facing Dog.
  • Spread your fingers wide and create a straight line between your middle fingers and elbows. Work on straightening your legs and lowering your heels toward the ground. Your heels should be slightly wider than your toes, so the outside edges of your feet are parallel with the outside edges of your mat. Relax your head between your arms, and direct your gaze through your legs or up toward your belly button.
  • Take your left arm and bring it as close to your right leg as possible, twisting your spine and upper body. Hold for three to five minutes and switch arms.

Modification: Spread a yoga blanket wide over your mat, place one yoga block at the top of the mat, and rest the bolster on the block to create an incline. Sit on your right hip with the middle of your right thigh next to the bolster, bending and slightly separating your knees. Place a rolled blanket between your thighs and turn to face the bolster, so your belly button is aligned with the center of it. Place your hands on either side of the bolster, with your arms extended; pause for a breath to allow your organs to turn for the twist. Inhale, then as you exhale, bend your elbows and lay your torso on the bolster. Hold for three to five minutes and switch sides.

Supported Relaxation Pose (Savasana)
Getty | DragonImages

Supported Relaxation Pose (Savasana)

  • Lie on your back, and close your eyes. In order to relax and open your body fully, extend your arms a few inches away from the body, with your palms facing up.
  • Bring about 15 to 20 inches between your feet, allowing your feet to fall open with your toes pointing out. Actively shrug your shoulders and shoulder blades down toward your hips. Lengthen through your spine as much as possible, and try to press the small of your back into the floor.
  • After you've found a comfortable position, enjoy the stillness for five to 10 minutes.

Modification: Spread one half of a folded blanket at the top of the mat. Place the yoga blocks on the lowest height, horizontally at the foot of your mat. Sit on the mat with your legs together, feet extended in front of you, and place the bolster behind your knees. Extend your heels onto the blocks and lay back, lengthening your tailbone toward your heels. Draw your shoulder blades back and down, and draw your chin towards your chest, so your spine is long and your entire body feels connected to mat.