We know that stress affects mind, body, and spirit, but we don't always know how to take action to slow down our lives and implement stress-reducing practices. Practicing restorative yoga is an intentional way to slow down both mind and body, give yourself the space to breathe and be with yourself. Winding down, retreating from stimulation, and finding stillness are essential elements of a stress-relieving practice. Give yourself the gift of healing and try one (or all three!) before going to bed to rest more deeply.
1. Legs Up the Wall (Sanskrit: Viparita Karani)
Find a space at your wall that is away from any furniture or excessive clutter. Sit with your out hip at the wall, then swivel your legs up the wall so that your butt is close to the wall, and your thighs and calves are against it. You may need to adjust to get yourself close enough. You can fold a blanket or have a pillow under your head, and rest your arms along your torso or place your palms face down on your abdomen. This is a gentle inversion for the legs, reducing the normal pressure on the legs and feet. Allow your eyes to soften here and rest for anywhere between five to 20 minutes.
2. Supported Reclining Bound Angle pose (Sanskrit: Supta Baddha Konasana)
For this pose, you will need either a yoga bolster and three blankets, or a couple of pillows in the place of a bolster. Lay the bolster (or stack of two pillows) vertically behind you, and then place one folded blanket horizontally at the top for your head. You will be laying back onto this setup, then bringing the soles of your feet together and knees out wide. Roll the other two blankets up like a burrito and wedge one roll under each knee to reduce strain and better support the legs. This hip-opening stretch is great for digestion and opens up the chest area. Once all the props are comfortable (you may need to adjust the blankets to get them in the right spot), then you can begin to close your eyes and stay here for about 10 minutes.
3. Supported Child's pose (Sanskrit: Salamba Balasana)
Use the same bolster/folded blanket set up from Supported Bound Angle, and bring it in front of you. Come into child's pose by bringing your knees outside the bottom edge of the prop set-up, then bringing the big toes to touch. Sink your hips back and fold forward onto the props so that your torso is supported. If your knees are uncomfortable here then you can place a folded blanket or cushion on top of your calves so that when you sit your hips back, they land on the prop. Spend five minutes with your gaze turned one way, then look the other direction for another five.