Claire Grieve is a highly sought after international Yoga specialist, Stretch therapist, Health Coach and Wellness Writer. Claire strongly believes yoga can be self-gratifying, enjoyable, and accessible to everyone. Follow claire on Instagram here.
As we near the end of the year, the days are shorter and colder, work is winding down, and the kids are cycling out of their chaotic schedules. This is the perfect time of year to take some time to rest and restore your body and mind.
Restorative yoga is an amazing tool for recharging your batteries during the holiday season (and every day, really). Physiologically restorative yoga activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which allows your body and mind to slow down, digest, and heal.
Restorative yoga will also help you bring awareness to how you feel both physically and emotionally. Where are you holding tension? Can you release it? Did it manifest in both your body and mind? As you release your muscles and emotional tension, you may begin to enter a deeper phase of relaxation or even meditation. It is the perfect opportunity to let your stresses melt away.
Here is one of my favorite Restorative Yoga practices:
1. Seated Meditation
Meditation has incredible stress relieving benefits, even if you only meditate for a few minutes at a time. Here is a simple meditation that will help you release tension from your body and mind: Close your eyes and take a few moments to check in and notice how you feel today. Begin to notice any areas where you may be holding on to tension. Next, begin to observe your breath. Focus your inhale on areas where you feel tight. On the exhale, envision releasing everything built up in these areas.
2. Puppy Dog Pose
This is a luscious pose that will help you stretch out your chest and shoulders. It can also decrease stress, anxiety, tension and insomnia. How to do this pose: Start in a table top position. Place your forearms on the ground reaching forward. Leave your tush high in the sky and release your weight into your chest.
3. Pigeon Pose
This pose is a wonderful way to release tension from your hips. Pigeon Pose isn’t always comfortable, but once you feel the release, it can completely change how you feel your body. Hip openers can also help release emotional tension as well. How to do this pose: Bring your right knee in line with your right hand with shin parallel to the front of your mat. Extend your left leg back and rest your knee and top of your foot on the ground. Square your hips and fold forward, resting your forehead on your hands. Hold this pose for 2- 5 minutes on each side.
4. Hamstring Stretch with Strap
This pose can help release tension from your upper legs and lower back, helping to address pain, sciatica, digestive problems, and menstrual discomfort. How to do this pose: Start lying on the floor. Lift one leg to the sky. Flex the foot of the extended leg, press your thigh down and make sure not to lift your hips. Press up through the heel, grab onto your big toe on the elevated leg and draw your leg back. If you can’t reach your toes, try using a strap!
5. Goddess on Blocks
This pose is one of my favorite poses. It helps release tension in your upper back and release fatigue, anxiety, and stress. How to do this pose: Sit with your legs in Butterfly Pose. Place one block underneath your scapula and one supporting your head. Lay back and breathe. Stay here for up to 10 minutes.
6. Legs up the Wall
This is an easy, gentle inversion that can help calm your nervous system. Chances are you will begin to feel more relaxed almost immediately in this pose. How to do this pose: Lie down on the floor with your tush against the wall. Slide your legs up the wall and rest your shoulders and head on the floor. Relax your arms by your side. Close your eyes, breathe, and rest here for up to 10 minutes (just be careful not to fall asleep here).
This is the ultimate resting pose. Savasana can help balance your nervous system and cultivate a calm mind. How to do this pose: Lie on your back with your feet hip-width apart. Relax your arms by your sides with your palms facing up. Let your shoulders soften away from your ears. Breathe deeply and enjoy a deep relaxation for 2 minutes or more!