When you've had a really busy week and don't have the energy for a long or challenging practice, it's really nice to practice some restorative yoga poses to help balance everything back out. This sequence starts with a stretch for the spine before moving on to a series of restful, reclining restorative poses using a bolster for support. A gentle twist, a hip opener, a stretch for the front of the thighs and hip flexors and finally a side lying relaxation. Depending on the length of time in each pose, the practice can last between 15 minutes and 50 minutes.
Note that if the bolsters are propped up to be at least 45 degrees then this practice could be done by those who are pregnant (albeit not advised for first trimester). If you are pregnant and haven’t practiced yoga previously, I would recommend joining a specific pregnancy yoga course. If you have had a prior yoga practice and are in your second or third trimester, then you can practice this sequence. Ensure you avoid lying flat on your back and avoid extreme stretching – this is not a time to push limits.
1. Wall Downward Dog
Stand a few feet away from a wall with feet hip distance apart with hands on hips. Bending the knees and hinging from the hips (not bending or rounding into the lower back), fold forward so that upper body begins to come towards a 90 degree angle. Keep the knees bent if you need to in order to prevent rounding into the lower back. Then reach forward to extend the arms out to press hands into the wall or door, fingers widely spread. Walk back if needed so that arms are fully extended. Head is looking down towards the floor with ears between inner elbow points. Ensure you’re fully extending along whole spine from tailbone to top of the neck. Stay for 1-2 minutes.
2. Reclining Twist with Bolster (Sleeping Mermaid)
Using a bolster, sit at the end of the bolster and with both knees bent and pointing towards the right, take an inhalation
and as you exhale begin to slowly twist the upper body towards the bolster. Continue over several breaths to turn upper body to twist so that it is facing forward over the bolster and then begin to lower upper body down to rest on the bolster. Keep the head facing the same direction as the knees. Continue to breath and stay here for 30 seconds to 1 ½ minutes on each side.
3. Supported Reclining Butterfly (Supta Baddha Konasana) Pose
Using two bolsters, lay one bolster flat, and then use the second bolster to place on top at an angle to create an approx. 45 degree angle. You can raise the angle further if you need to through the use of additional blankets. Sit at the base of the bolsters and walk yourself back using hands for support. Bring the soles of the feet together to allow the knees to drop out to the side. Place some blocks or folded blankets under the knees for support. Place blocks or blankets under the forearms as well (especially if staying for an extended period of time). Stay for 5-20 minutes.
4. Supported Saddle Pose
Keeping the bolsters as before, sit at the bottom of the bolsters and take each heel back
towards each respective hip. Ensuring there is no pain in the knee (if so try one leg extended and one leg bent), gradually walk the hands back to recline onto the bolster. Stay for 3-5 minutes.
5. Side Lying Relaxation (Savasana)
Using a bolster for support, lie on your side, finding the most comfortable position for you to rest, possibly with a bolster between the thighs. Use additional blankets to support head and forearms as required. Rest and stay here for 5-20 minutes.
Note: If you are pregnant and haven’t practiced yoga previously, I would recommend joining a specific pregnancy yoga course. If you have had a prior yoga practice and are in your second or third trimester, then you can practice this sequence. Ensure you avoid lying flat on your back and avoid extreme stretching – this is not a time to push limits.