Restorative Yoga for the Ultimate Relaxation
The holidays are a time that is supposed to be full of joy, family, giving, reflection, and positivity. Trying to cram all of the good stuff into a short span of time, however, tends to make people a bit on edge and maybe even a little cranky.
Any time you feel overwhelmed, take a few moments for you: Breathe, reset, and take care of yourself so that you can then in turn be your best self for everyone else. Here a few yoga moves to completely relax and restore your body and mind. Do each—or any—of these any time you feel a Grinch moment coming on, and your most calm, magnanimous self will emerge.
Supported Child’s Pose: From kneeling, widen your knees so they’re a little wider than your hips. Rest a bolster, pillow, or blanket rolled up like a burrito between your thighs and lie down on it, allowing your head to rest completely (make your support higher by adding another item if needed). Allow your arms to relax to the ground, reaching a bit forward. Close your eyes and breathe here for 10 deep breaths.
Thread the Needle: From all fours, reach your right arm underneath your body, allowing your right shoulder and temple to release to the ground. Your left hand can stay where it is, or crawl a bit to the right over your head. Breathe here for 10 deep breaths, then repeat on the other side.
Pigeon: From down dog, sweep your right shin toward the front of your mat, right knee toward your right wrist and right ankle toward your left wrist. (If your right hip is elevated, set a rolled blanket or firm pillow underneath it.) Crawl your hands forward until your head is on the ground (or prop your head up with soft blocks or blankets), and breathe here for 10 deep breaths. Repeat on the left.
Happy Baby: Lie on your back, bend your knees, hugging them in toward your chest, and then take the outer edges of your feet in your hands, reaching your knees toward your armpits. (If this is too much, take your hands to the back of your thighs.) Rock softly from left to right if that feels nice, and stay here for 10 deep breaths.
Restorative Fish Pose: Sit down with your knees bent and feet on the ground. Place one yoga block (preferably foam, which is softer than cork) behind you where you think your shoulder blades will rest when you lie back and place the other where you think your head will rest comfortably. (Adjust the setting of the blocks for what your body needs right now. You can start with both blocks on the lowest setting, perhaps increasing the shoulder block one setting at a time as your body allows.) Gently release your back onto the shoulder block so that your shoulder blades are just above the block (the block will be at your middle back). Release your head to the second block so that it is comfortable for your neck, adjusting the block height as needed. Once comfortable, take your feet together and knees apart, allow your arms to relax on either side of you, and breathe here for 10 deep breaths.
Plow: Lie on your back with your knees bent, feet on the floor and arms on either side of you. Soften your knees and press your arms into the ground to reach your feet up toward the ceiling and then back behind you any amount that feels good on your neck. Take your hands to your lower back for support and breathe here for 10 deep breaths.
Legs Up the Wall with Support: Roll up a blanket and place it long ways next to a wall. Sit sideways next to the wall on the blanket, then lie down on your side, facing away from the wall with your butt touching the wall and propped up on the blanket. Using your arms, lift your legs up the wall as you roll over onto your back and onto the blanket. Allow your arms to fall on either side of you, palms up for openness or down for an extra level of grounding. Stay here for at least 5 breaths or as long as you like.
Savasana with Leg Support: While seated with your legs long in front of you and just a bit apart, roll up a blanket and place under your knees. Lie down on your back, allowing your legs to separate with your feet about hip-distance apart and your arms to relax on either side of you. Breathe here for at least 20 deep breaths or as long as you like.
Photos: Vera Boykewich