In a world that seems to be always “on,” trying to reach a state of blissful inner calm can be a tall order. Fortunately, we’ve got yoga—because often the quickest ways to slow down and reset the mind is to let the body lead the way. But before you assume you have to turn yourself into a pretzel, here are six tension-busting, restorative poses that combine physical postures, controlled breathing, and relaxation.
You can do these yoga poses without any prior experience or equipment and they’re an excellent way to lengthen your muscles and allow the body and mind to find serenity before, during, or after another hectic day:
Legs-Up-The-Wall Pose—the circulation booster
The tight hips, swollen ankles, and stiff lower backs of desk-dwellers will find comfort in this simple, circulation-inducing posture. Place a pillow or blanket under your sacrum, rest your legs against a wall, and cactus your arms with the palms facing up. Close your eyes, allow yourself to be supported by the wall and floor beneath you and breathe deeply.
Child’s Pose—quiet the mind and ease tension
The mother of all restorative poses, Child's Pose is the perfect way to give your body a little love. From a tabletop posture, release the hips to the heels, find your breath, and breathe deeply for two to four minutes. Meanwhile, focus on softening the back and releasing out-of-awareness tension from the jaw.
Reclining Butterfly Pose—emotional release
Particularly for women, the hips are said to be where we hold a lot of our emotions. The reclining butterfly pose is the perfect elixir for releasing stiff hips (and letting that emotional tension release!), tight inner thighs or anyone struggling with uncomfortable menstruation pains.
Corpse Pose—ultimate relaxation
One of the simplest poses, but also the one that is a powerhouse at putting the body at ease and emphasizing total relaxation. Lie flat on your back, place your arms by your side (palms facing up), close your eyes, and hold for three to five minutes. No rush.
Reclined Hero Pose—intense stretch
More an intermediate-level pose, the reclined hero pose will deliver you an intense stretch for the whole front of the body. Come to sit between the knees, with the heels beside the bottom, slowly lower to forearms, staying here a few moments and then continue further if comfortable, releasing your back lower to the ground. Use a pillow as a bolster under your back or head and hold here for two to four minutes.
Ragdoll Pose—decompress, literally
Stretch your calves and hamstrings, relieve lower back compression, and release all that built up tension in your neck and shoulders. Stand with your feet hip-width apart, toes pointing forward, inhale, bring your hands to your hips, exhale, bend your knees slightly, and hinge forward from the hips with a flat back. Cross your arms and hold onto opposite elbows.
By naturally increasing oxygen in the body, supporting blood flow, reducing mental and emotional tension, and bringing your mind and body back to center, yoga is a vital practice to incorporate into your daily self-care routine and support you to respond to daily challenges with greater calm, clarity, and ease.