Relax and Renew: A Restorative Yoga Sequence
This restorative yoga sequence will help open your heart and relieve tension after a long day. If you're feeling stressed out, then you might notice that your breath is a little shallower than you'd realized. Place emphasis on deep, full breaths, and each of these poses will feel easier and easier.
Set the tone for this relaxing sequence with 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, lay 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 your arms extended out in front of you.
- Stay here for at least five breaths.
If you find quad-opening Hero's Pose too tough on your legs, then sit on a block or a rolled-up blanket for a little extra support:
- After Child's Pose, sit up on your heels, and bring your knees knees together. Separate your feet so you can sit down on the ground between them.
- Use your hands to roll your calves away from your thighs. Curl the arches of your feet around the curve of your bum so your toes are pointing behind you and slightly toward one another.
- Rest your hands on your thighs, press your palms together in front of your chest, or raise your hands overhead. Stay here for five deep breaths.
Camel Pose is a big heart-opening pose that will help release tension from your back and neck:
- From Hero's Pose, come toward the top of your mat so your knees are under your hips. Reach your right hand back toward your right heel, and then reach your left hand toward your left heel.
- Your hands are there for balancing support, so don't lean all your weight onto them. Try to shift your weight forward onto your knees, which will increase the stretch in your quads, belly, and chest.
- Lower your head behind you, and stay here for five breaths.
Even when Pigeon feels tough, breathe deep, and relax into it the best you can. After a while, you'll be surprised at how calming this pose can feel:
- After Camel Pose, place your palms flat on your mat, and press back to Downward Facing Dog. Step both feet together, and bring your right knee forward between your hands and lower your body so your outer right leg is resting on the mat.
- If your hips are more open, then inch your right foot away from you. Make sure your left hip is always pointing down toward the mat.
- Stay here with your hands resting on your hips or your right leg, or walk your hands out in front of you, allowing your torso to rest over your right knee.
- Hold here, breathing into any areas of tightness and tension for at least 10 breaths. Once you're ready, plant your hands on the floor and push your right leg to the sky for a quick Three-Legged Dog to give your hips a little release. Then come back to Downward Facing Dog before performing Pigeon on your left side.
The active Bow Pose will help increase flexibility in your spine:
- After moving through Pigeon Pose on your left side, push back to Downward Dog.
- After a few breaths, bring your knees to the mat and lie on your belly. Bend your knees, reach back with your hands, and hold onto the outside edge of your right ankle and then your left.
- Once you have a firm hold of each ankle, try to keep your toes together, either pointing or flexing your feet. Lift your feet up as high as you can, and shift your weight forward so you're resting on your naval instead of on your pubic bone.
- Hold for five deep breaths, and then slowly release.
Butterfly Pose opens up hip flexors and kicks off some of the most calming poses in the sequence:
- From Bow Pose, come to seated position on your bottom. Bend both knees, and bring your feet together.
- Using your hands, open your feet up like a book, pressing your knees toward the floor with your elbows. If you want more of a stretch, then extend your arms out in front of you.
- Stay here for five breaths.
Legs up the Wall
Tight legs and stiff lower backs will find comfort in this simple but important posture:
- After Butterfly Pose, grab your mat, and move toward the closest wall.
- Sit sideways, and position yourself a few inches away from a wall. On your exhale, swing your hips 90 degrees to bring legs up the wall.
- Allow your shoulders and head to rest lightly on the floor, relax your arms at your sides, and close your eyes.
- Keep your legs firm against the wall, but don't force anything in this pose. If it feels uncomfortable on your lower back, then move a few more inches away from the wall.
Fish Pose opens up your chest and releases unnecessary stress from your neck:
- From Legs up the Wall, move backward so your head is at the top of your mat and your back is lying flat on the floor.
- Bring your arms close to your sides, palms facing down. Keeping your bum on the floor, inhale as you press your hands and forearms into the ground to arch your back, lifting your shoulders off the floor. Tilt your head backward, and rest the top of your head on the floor.
- Keeping your legs strong, hold for five breaths. Then lower your back to the mat.
Finally, Reclining Twist will give some final love to that tight lower back:
- From Fish Pose, come back to lying flat on your back. Draw both knees in toward your chest, giving them a nice big squeeze.
- Either keep your legs bent for a more beginner-friendly posture, or extend them out straight up in the air, and breath in deep.
- On the exhale, open your left arm, gaze to the left side, and drop your legs toward the right. If your legs are extended, then reach for your thigh, ankle, or foot, and look toward your open left hand.
- Hold for at least five breaths before coming back to center and then dropping your legs toward the left while gazing to your right.