Even if you’re a novice to yoga, utilizing simple restorative poses is an easy way relax and stretch your tired muscles after a long day. In restorative yoga, props--such as a folded blanket or your bedroom wall--support your body and allow you to hold a pose for an extended period of time, which opens your body through passive stretching and gives you a chance to unwind and collect your thoughts.
One of my personal favorite restorative poses is viparita karani, also known as “legs up the wall.” All it requires is a wall with enough space to accommodate your legs, and a floor that you don’t mind lying on for a while. A yoga mat or blanket will provide extra padding.
- Sit with the side of your body against the wall. In one movement, swing your legs up against the wall and bring your lower back to the floor, using your elbows to support your weight. If there’s too much strain on your hamstrings, move away from the wall until you feel a comfortable stretch.
- Gradually lower the rest of your back, as well as your shoulders and head, to the floor.
- Rest your legs against the wall in a relatively straight position, but don’t strain yourself. You should be able to comfortably hold this pose for at least several minutes. If you feel like you need back support, you can place folded or rolled-up blankets or towels under the arch of your back as needed.
- Hold for 5-15 minutes, breathing deeply. You can try holding different positions with your legs, such as touching the soles of your feet together or bending your knees.
- To come out of the pose, bring your knees to your chest and roll to one side.
Breathe and enjoy!