Exploring self-care in your yoga practice is a very intimate and personal way to begin a deeper connection with yourself. Restorative yoga is a perfect starting point for this, the very point of it is to release tightness from the body, release frustrations, expectations and any other emotions that are stressors. We’ve set out a few of our very favourite restorative postures, simple ways to encourage a natural relaxed sense of being.
Supta Baddha Konasana
(Reclining Bound Angle Pose)
This is a very healing, comforting place for your body to be in, provided you are fully supported. Supta Baddha Konasana is an excellent pose to fully practice self-care. First try it for a few seconds without any props. Come into Baddha Konasana or Bound Angle pose by bending your knees and bringing the soles of your feet together. Now lie back using your elbows for support to bring you down onto the floor. Take a few breaths and come back up. Check in to see if you had any knee pain, did you feel any discomfort in your lower back or hip flexors?
There are plenty of options to support your body:
To prop up your knees and groins, place blocks (or rolled up blankets) underneath your thigh bones, this will allow support for your full leg and allow your inner groins to soften and your upper legs to relax. This is a great support for those with tighter hips whose knees do not touch the ground or for those who are actually hypermobile but have pain in the hip flexors. For full relaxation, let your spine and sacrum rest over a bolster, you can even use another soft block to further elevate your head and neck so that your head rests above your heart. Let gravity work, there is no need to force the action. Soften your eyes and gentle free breathing will bring you to a place of comfort. If you are comfortable with bringing the knees to the floor, you can also turn this pose into a relaxing chest opener. One option is to use a block placed between your shoulderblades:
A rolled up blanket is also a lovely option:
Bringing your arms over your head and letting your hands rest gently with an an open palm will increase the opening of the chest. This lets your breathe fully, expanding the rib cage and lets your heart and lungs feel relaxed and supported, which in turn allows your central nervous system to relax.
(Legs Up The Wall Pose)
This is a very gentle relaxing inversion, perfect for restoring after a long day on your feet. Inverting your legs in this way, aids your circulation and make tired legs and feet feel as if they have just had a massage. This same effect also brings a freshness to your upper body & head and will aid with general tiredness and headaches. Just five minutes in this posture will have you feeling calm. If you suffer from adrenal fatigue, this is also an excellent way to replenish yourself. To come into this pose with a bolster (or folded blankets), place the bolster with the long side parallel to the wall. You want the bolster a few inches away from the wall. Sit with your right hip on the bolster, lie back and bring your buttocks to the wall. You will have to shift around a little to come to the middle of the bolster and find the most comfortable position. Your bum will be against the wall and actually be over the bolster. Your upper body will be supported by the bolster. Stretch your legs up, at first keep them active as if you could holding a block before releasing into a gentle stretch. Let your arms open into a ‘T’ shape with relaxed open palms.
After about 5 up to 20 minutes of holding this comforting pose, it is also very soothing to finish by bringing your legs into a wide legged ‘v’ pose with your arms overhead for a few minutes. This will help release your groins further.
Gentle belly breathing and soft restful eyes will complete this personal self-care package. To come out, push yourself away from the wall until your bum is off the bolster and roll to the side to come to sitting.
(Sleeping Frog Pose)
This is a pose you will see babies naturally flop into and fall asleep in. As adults, it is a deep hip opener but a deeply restorative place for your body to be in. If you’re very open, it is a pleasant, happy place to be without props, but for most people, props are necessary to make this into the self-care pose we are aiming for. To come into it, place yourself in a wide legged child’s pose. Check where your knees are in this posture, place blocks under and come back into the wild legged child’s pose. Your knees and shin bones and ankles should be fully supported by your blocks. Lean your hips forward until you feel a comfortable stretch and place the bolster under your chest for support. Lean into the bolster, with your arms hugging the bolster. Place your head to one side so that your neck is in a comfortable position.
Let gravity take over and feel your body release into the ground. There should be no pain, just a nice stretch in the front of the groins and inner thighs.
After about 5-8 minutes of relaxing into this posture, if you feel comfortable and open, you can attempt it without props. If your chest doesn’t naturally reach the floor, feel free to stay for a few more minutes with the bolster as both variations are equally beneficial.
It should feel deeply restful, maybe even restful enough to feel as if you could sleep like a baby…