Exercise is about more than just lifting weights or running on the treadmill – intentional movement, stretching, and resting are necessary components of a well-rounded fitness routine. Yoga is a great way to incorporate some of the pieces your routine may be missing. If you’re a passionate lifter or runner, you know just how important active rest days are, and restorative yoga can be an amazing activity for days when you need to reduce impact. Not only that, but yoga is a great way to get back in touch with your body and improve your mental health. Restorative yoga poses can help you recover from a workout by promoting deep relaxation and increasing flexibility in your muscles.
WHAT IS RESTORATIVE YOGA?
Restorative yoga is a technique designed to help you relax and recover from the stresses of your day. It’s also a perfect recovery tool for athletes, as it helps to relieve sore muscles, improves blood circulation, and relieves tension in tight or overworked muscles.
This type of yoga is great for relaxing your mind and body after working out, or just as a way to wind down after a long day at work. It also helps you fall asleep faster and sleep better because it promotes relaxation in your body and mind.
Restorative yoga uses props like blankets, blocks, and straps to create the right kind of support for each pose so that you don’t have to do any strenuous lifting yourself. This support allows your body to fully relax into the postures without having to focus on balancing or holding yourself up against gravity – freeing up mental energy that can then be put toward relaxing your mind.
Poses are held for several minutes and allow you to shift the balance away from your fight-or-flight response (sympathetic nervous system) toward the more relaxing parasympathetic nervous system (the relaxation response). This shift promotes deep release in muscles and joints and feelings of calmness throughout your entire being.
BALASANA (CHILD’S POSE)
Child’s Pose is one of the most relaxing and restorative poses in yoga. It’s a great pose for beginners, as well as those who suffer from lower back pain or stress. In this version of Child’s Pose, you’ll extend your legs out in front of you to create a deeper stretch through your hips and thighs.
As you sink into the pose, let go of any tension that may be lingering in your body. Make sure to take deep breaths throughout this practice! You can also try placing a pillow or towel under each knee if they do not reach the floor easily—this will allow a little more support and give them time to relax into the position before stretching deeper into it as you progress.
VIPARITA KARANI (LEGS UP THE WALL)
Legs Up the Wall is an inverted pose that can be used to help you relax after a long day. This pose is also good for reducing stress, anxiety and fatigue. In addition, it can help relieve menstrual discomfort.
Sit toward the edge of a wall or bed with your legs straight out in front of you and heels close to the wall. Place a pillow on the floor between your feet if necessary for support. Lie back onto this pillow so that your torso is supported by it and just before your head touches down on it, clasp one or both hands behind your back (as pictured).
Pulling strongly through each leg will help lift them off the ground if needed—keeping them suspended as much as possible helps maintain circulation throughout this downtime pose!
MATSYASANA (SUPPORTED FISH POSE)
To get into this pose, lie on your back with your legs bent and feet flat on the floor. If you’re new to yoga or are looking for ways to make it a little easier, use a bolster or rolled-up blanket under your knees. Place another folded blanket or pillow under your head if that feels more comfortable for you. Gently lift your chest and head into the air, then place both hands by your sides in a relaxed position.
SETU BANDHA SARVANGASANA (SUPPORTED BRIDGE POSE)
Lie on your back and place a yoga block or bolster underneath the lower half of your spine, just above the tailbone.
Bend your knees, bringing them towards your chest and feet flat on the floor. Place hands under shoulders, palms down.
Lift hips off the ground by pressing into blocks or pillows under legs as needed to release any tension in hamstrings and quadriceps.
Engage core muscles, gently drawing the navel towards the spine while still holding onto blocks or pillows if necessary for support in this pose (this will help protect the lower back).
SUPTA MATSYENDRASANA (RECLINING TWIST)
The reclining twist is a great pose for those who want to build strength and flexibility in the spine. In addition to improving your posture, it also improves digestion and helps with lower back pain.
You’ll start on your back with both legs straight out in front of you. Bend one knee at a time so that your legs are bent and your knees are stacked on top of each other. Bring both arms out by the sides of your body, palms facing up towards the ceiling. Slowly begin to bend forward as far as you can while keeping both shoulders on the ground, working past 90 degrees if possible (you may have to adjust this based on flexibility). Once there, take deep breaths and continue breathing throughout the rest of the pose until you’re ready to come up again. As always, listen carefully to what your body is telling you!
SHAVASANA (CORPSE POSE)
Shavasana, or corpse pose, is the final resting pose in yoga practice. It can be practiced at any time but is especially useful on your rest day when you need to relax and let go of all the stressors of the day.
Restorative Yoga is a great way to recover from workouts. It’s important to know that rest days are a crucial part of the recovery process, especially if you’re training hard. Restorative poses are designed to help you relax your body and mind so that you can feel better when it comes time for another workout or race!
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