Maybe it’s just me, but Sunday can be a really stressful day. You’re staring down the reality of everything that needs to be accomplished in the upcoming week while trying to catch up with the lingering responsibilities of the week that has just passed. I used to literally find it hard to breathe on Sundays.
I’ve made a lot of changes this year, and one I’m most proud of is a commitment to health and wellness… and yoga. Through yoga, I’ve actually found my breath again, along with more balance, patience, and strength – in so many areas of my life.
I’d heard of restorative yoga before, but always thought of it as a waste of time. Laying around doing nothing. Surrounded by strangers no less. But I couldn’t help but wonder why one of my favorite Tranquil Space yoga teachers – one of the most driving and challenging teachers – also taught restorative yoga. An oxymoron, it seemed.
Until one day I tried it. And now I’m hooked. Every Sunday, three hours of yoga. First a regular practice followed by a restorative class. And every Sunday, I walk home feeling lighter and ready to take on the world.
The beauty is that anyone can do it, anytime, anywhere. 5 minutes? No problem. No props (bolsters, blankets, and blocks)? Just use pillows, blankets/towels, or boxes around your house. Improvise. But don’t skimp on an eye pillow (or cloth), relaxing music, and a little aromatherapy.
A few of my favorite restorative poses:
- Legs up the wall. Scoot your bum as close to the wall as possible, lay on your back, and rest your legs up the wall. Close your eyes and chill out for 5-15 minutes.
- Supported child’s pose. Stack some blankets and/or pillows in front of you. Sit back on your heels and spread your knees to form a V shape around your props. Lay forward onto the blankets for support and turn your head to one side, extending your arms forward. Relax here for 5 or more minutes, turning your head half way through.
- Supported seated twist. Stack some blankets and/or pillows in front of you and fold one across the top to form a T shape. Sit with one hip against the blankets and bend your knees. Turn your torso forward to face the blankets and lay down, turning your head to look in the opposite direction of your knees. Bend your elbows against your body with your hands near your shoulders. Hang out here for 5-15 minutes, then turn and twist to the other side.
- Supported bound angle pose. Stack blankets and/or pillows behind you. Place a block in between the blankets and towards the back to elevate your head. Sit in front of the blankets and bring the soles of your feet together/knees apart to form a diamond shape with your legs (maybe wrap a blanket around your ankles and between your legs for additional support). Lay back with your arms at your side or extended outward for as long as you like.
- Supported backbend. Fold or roll one blanket so that it’s approximately 6″ high. Set the blanket on the floor and lay across it so that it’s supporting your mid back (about at your waist, between your hips and shoulder blades). Roll another blanket slightly to place under your neck. Extend your legs or bend them with your knees up (you can also use blankets/pillows to support and elevate your legs). Bend your elbows and extend your forearms above your head, coming into “cactus arms.” Stay here for 5+ minutes. To come out of this pose, lift your hips and remove the blanket from under your back. Lay flat on your back for 30 seconds or so, roll to your side, and then up to a seated position.
Check out a few of these sites to learn more: