While yoga is sometimes about using your energy, such as when doing intense movements during power yoga, at other times you need to slow down and be still. This is where restorative yoga comes in.
What, exactly, is restorative yoga? Restorative yoga can be defined as yoga in which you rest and hold your yoga poses for longer. You can also make use of props to help you maintain the poses, such as yoga blocks.
Restorative yoga, as its name suggests, restores you. It helps you sleep better, relieve anxiety, and boost your mood. Let’s explore 10 of the best restorative yoga poses that you should add to your weekly yoga sessions.
11 Restorative Yoga Poses You Can Do Anywhere
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
This is one of the most calming and common restorative yoga poses. It also increases blood circulation to your head.
- Start by sitting on your heels. Keep your knees mat distance apart.
- Bend your torso forward so that your stomach is resting between your thighs.
- Make sure you keep your forehead on your yoga mat.
- Stretch your arms in front of you or keep them next to your sides. The key is to choose whatever position feels most relaxing.
- For increased relaxation, put a rolled-up blanket underneath your knees. You can also fold a blanket and put this underneath your head so you feel like you’re half-lying down.
Supported Bridge Pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana)
- Lie on your back with your knees bent.
- Keep your feet as far away from your bottom so you can touch them with your fingertips.
- Place a yoga block underneath your sacrum.
- Put your hands on your belly or at your sides.
- Hold this pose for a few minutes, concentrating on your deep breaths.
- If you want this pose to feel a bit more challenging, move the block around so that you’re resting on its highest point.
Sleeping Pigeon Pose
This is a great restorative yoga pose to do if you’re battling body pain or stress-related anxiety. It also stretches your lower back and hips.
- Get onto your yoga mat on all fours.
- Lift your right leg and put your shin down so it’s at the front of your yoga mat.
- Your foot should be close to your pelvis and your knee should be a bit out to the right.
- Keep your back leg straight behind you.
- Put a yoga block underneath your right sitting bone so that you even out your hip position.
- Put a bolster on the inside of your right leg. You can use a pillow or cushion. Fold forward onto it.
- Hold this pose for up to five minutes. Keep your breathing even and deep.
- Once you’re done, repeat the pose on the other side.
Happy Baby Pose (Ananda Balasana)
This pose gets its name because of how it requires you to lie down and reach for your feet with your hands. Some of its benefits include how it lowers your heart rate and stretches the spine.
- Start by lying on your back with your knees bent.
- Stretch your hands out so that you can hold your feet.
- Make sure that your feet are drawn out so they’re placed above your knees.
- During this pose, keep your chin aligned with your forehead. Your shoulders should be directed to the floor.
- Your back, neck, and head should not raise off the floor. Instead of reaching up to grab your feet, you should pull them closer to your body so you don’t lose contact with the floor.
Note: If you find this a bit uncomfortable, put a cushion underneath your pelvis. This will give you more support so you can relax.
Seated Cat-Cow Pose (Marjaryasana-Bitilasana)
This helps you to stretch out your back, so it’s great if you’ve been carrying tension in your back muscles all day.
- Sit cross-legged on your yoga mat, with your hands on your knees.
- Arch your back and take in a breath, as you bring your chest forward. Lift your gaze so that you look at the wall in front of you.
- As you exhale, round your back. You want to contract your core.
- Repeat this pose for one minute.
If you want to do restorative yoga with a bit more movement while using breathwork, the Seated Twist is an excellent yoga pose to try.
- Sit down on your yoga mat with your legs straight in front of you.
- Put your right foot against your left thigh, then cross your left leg over your right. You want your left ankle to be outside of your right knee.
- Sit up straight with good posture.
- Inhale as you reach your arms up to the sky.
- Put your left arm on the mat behind you and your right hand on your left knee.
- Take a deep breath.
- As you exhale your breath, twist your body from bottom to top. Look over your left shoulder.
- Hold the pose for 30 seconds.
- Repeat the pose on the other side of your body.
Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)
This restorative yoga pose gives you support while you relax in a deep way. It has many benefits, such as relieving your anxiety and boosting circulation.
- Lie down on your back.
- Bend your knees and keep them as close to your pelvis as possible.
- Place the soles of your feet together.
- Open your knees to the side of your body.
- Place your knees on the floor, with a yoga block or pillow underneath your knees. This gives your hips more support so you can relax.
- Open your arms to the side of your body. Keep your palms upwards.
- Make sure you feel your shoulder blades relaxing into the yoga mat.
- Engage in deep belly breathing as you hold this yoga pose for between five to 10 minutes.
Thread the Needle Pose
This restorative yoga pose is great for relieving back and shoulder tension. If you’ve been battling with aches and pains in your back, shoulders, or neck, this pose will help you to feel better.
- Sit on your hands and knees on your yoga mat.
- Slide your left arm forward.
- Extend your right arm so that it’s straight at your side and then thread it underneath your left arm. You want your right shoulder and ear to be on the mat, while your left arm is flat behind you.
- Hold this pose for a minute.
- Then, place your left hand in front of your face.
- Press back into your initial position. Remember to repeat the pose on the other side of your body.
Legs Up The Wall Pose (Viparita Karani)
This yoga pose, which is great for clearing your mind and relieving tired legs, requires you to rest your legs against the wall. You can increase your support with the use of pillows.
- Start by sitting with your left side against the wall. Your lower back should be resting against a pillow or cushion if you need one for extra support.
- Turn your body to the left. You want your legs to move up onto the wall.
- If using a pillow, make sure that you move your lower back onto it before you lift your legs up onto the wall.
- Lower your back to the floor. You want to lie down properly, with your neck and head firmly against the floor.
- Carefully shift your hips closer to the wall. If it doesn’t feel relaxed for your hips to be right against the wall, you can move away a bit. You want the pose to feel comfortable.
- Leave your arms at your sides. Keep the palms of your hands turned upwards.
- Hold this pose for one minute.
This is a super-simple restorative yoga pose to try that’s great for beginners and advanced yoga enthusiasts alike. It’s useful for relaxing quickly, plus it’s the perfect pose to try if you want to meditate.
- It also stretches out your outer hips and inner thighs, helping you to relieve tension.
- Sit on the floor. Keep your legs straight in front of you and your arms at your sides.
- Make sure you keep your back straight as you bend your right knee and bring your right heel so that it’s resting on your inner thigh, next to your groin area.
- Bend your left leg and bring your left heel up against the top of your pubic bone.
- Sit in this pose for as long as you want to quiet your mind and meditate.
Corpse Pose (Savasana)
This is another really easy yoga pose – who knew that lying on your back on the floor was a yoga pose, right? This is a very relaxing yoga pose to try. It can calm your mind, lower your blood pressure, and reduce fatigue.
Best of all, you can achieve it without any props or complicated steps.
- Lie on your back on your yoga mat.
- Keep your legs stretched in front of you and a bit apart.
- Put your arms at your sides, with your palms facing up.
- Breathe in and out.
- Keep this pose for as long as you want
Restorative Yoga Benefits
If you want to benefit from practicing restorative yoga, you’ll be pleased to know that there are many rewards to reap. Here’s a rundown of some of the most common ones.
- It relaxes your body and mind. Sometimes, instead of doing lots of movement during yoga, you need to reduce your stress. Restorative yoga involves comfortable poses so that you can concentrate on your breathing and clear your mind.
- It soothes your nervous system. This type of yoga moves you out of a fight-or-flight response to a relaxed response.
- It can boost your mood. Restorative yoga is great to do on days when you’re feeling stressed. Since it encourages you to tune out the world and focus on your breathing, this can send stress packing, which will make you feel more positive about your life.
- It’s gentle on the body. If you’re battling to recover from a recent injury or you’ve got a painful health condition, restorative yoga can help you to perform poses without putting too much strain on your joints and muscles.
- It can be done on your rest days. Although you might do other types of yoga regularly to stay in shape, it’s useful to take a rest day or two every week. On these days, you can do restorative yoga so that you still practice yoga to restore your body and mind.
What can you use if you don’t have a yoga block?
If you don’t own a yoga block, you can support your body during restorative yoga with other items. These include firm pillows or cushions and folded blankets.
How should you do deep belly breathing?
Deep belly breathing involves keeping your chest still while your stomach moves during a breath. With one hand in the middle of your chest and the other one underneath your rib cage, slowly breathe through your nose and feel your stomach move.
Release your breath while tightening your abdominal muscles.
If you want to relax and unwind, such as after a busy or stressful day, you should engage in some of the restorative yoga poses we’ve outlined in this article.
They’re easy to achieve and have many benefits, which include releasing tension from the body.