Throughout our days we are constantly exposed to stimuli and our brains are working hard to keep us in fight or flight mode, to always be ready for the next choice and decision. A slow and restorative yoga practice where we use the breath and mindful movement to tune inwards can help us switch to our parasympathetic nervous system, where we can begin rest and recover. Here are 5 poses for finding calm and soothing the senses that you can do every day:
Standing Forward Bend
A standing forward bend is especially good to soothe symptoms of stress, irritability and general tension as it allows you to shut out distractions and stimuli from your surroundings, and instead tune inwards and soothe the sympathetic nervous system.
- Standing tall at the top of your mat, start folding forward slowly hinging from the hips keeping both the legs and torso straight.
- If you feel your spine starting to curve or an uncomfortable stretch down the back of your legs, try bending your knees as much as you need.
- Bend down to touch your fingertips or palms to the ground in front of your feet, or use a couple of bricks if you need to to give yourself some extra length.
- Let your head drop and neck relax, but try to keep the spine neutral and long.
Try this pose with bricks.
Wide Legged Childs Pose
Folding into childs pose allows us to tune inwards, as the pose naturally makes us feel safe and calm as we are protecting your our heart and vital organs. The stretch of the pose along the back body, spine and knees helps us to release multiple areas where the body is susceptible to holding tension, spending time in this pose will help create ease and relaxation both mentally and physically.
- From all fours, bring the knees out wide.
- Place a bolster vertically in between your legs.
- Begin to lower the chest down and allow the cheek, or forehead to meet the bolster.
- If you need to, you can use another cushion or brick to bring the bolster up higher.
Reclined Bound Angle Pose
Supta Baddha Konasana
This gentle heart and hip opener stretches part of our body that we often hold a lot of tension and stress in. Using a bolster will allow you to open up the chest and breathe deeply, which can help reduce feelings of anxiety and stress, while the hip opener helps us release tension and tightness built up from spending a long time sitting at a desk.
- Sitting in the middle of your mat, bend your knees and place the feet flat.
- Lie down either on your mat or place a bolster lengthways from your tailbone for a gentle heart opener.
- Once you are lying down and feel your spine and shoulders supported by the mat or bolster, slowly let your knees fall out to either side and press the soles of your feet together.
- Moving the heels either closer or further from your sitting bones to find where you feel the most comfortable in the pose.
- Let your arms rest by your sides with the palms facing up.
- You can bring the bolster higher with another cushion or brick, to make the back bend less intense.
This pose will help relieve stress and calm the nervous system plus boost your circulation and bring a sense of calm to the body. If you are struggling with insomnia or fatigue, this pose will help you clear your mind and feel more relaxed.
- You can practice this pose without a wall if you’re doing a dynamic practice or without a wall as part of a restorative session or even in bed.
- Support the pose with a couple of folded blankets or a rectangular bolster under the hips for increased circulation and blood flow to the brain.
- Sit with your side to the wall with your blankets or bolster behind your tailbone.
- In one slow movement, lie down with your head and shoulders on the ground, hips on the bolster or blankets and swing your legs up against the wall.
- Your sitting bones do not need to be all the way up against the wall, so if the pose feels tight and uncomfortable, try moving backwards before you swing your legs up.
- Once you feel comfortable, tuck your chin slightly towards the chest and let your arms rest by your sides with the palms facing up.
Throughout the day we spend a lot of time in our sympathetic nervous system (fight or flight mode). Savasana is the ultimate pose to start to switch on the parasympathetic nervous system, where we begin to slow down and find stillness in the body. This state benefits the digestive and immune systems as well as our minds. Spend a couple of moments with your eyes closed, focusing on your breath and setting an intention for yourself.
- Make sure you do this pose somewhere quiet, where you will be able to focus inwards and shut out distractions.
- Life down on your mat and tuck your chin slightly.
- Let your feet fall out to either side and feel your hips and legs releasing and relaxing.
- Let your palms face upwards and your shoulder blades rest on the ground.
- Use as many props as you want to feel supported and comfortable. A bolster under the knees will help your lower back release, while a rolled up blanket or mini bolster under your neck will support your head and an eye pillow will help you focus on your breath.
Use lots of props to get comfortable in Savasana and encourage complete surrender.
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