Finding space to rest is important not only for your physical body but to maintain overall health, too. Sleeping is, of course, rest, but there are other ways to find calmness and release that don’t involve taking a nap.
Resting positions in yoga are a great way to relax and unwind.
In the yoga practice, there are different styles, techniques, and postures to support a wide variety of people and needs.
From invigorating styles like Vinyasa flow, Power Yoga, and Ashtanga, to styles of yoga, like Yin and Restorative, where relaxation and letting go are the main objectives.
All these yoga practices, no matter what their purpose or theme, will include a few resting poses, even if just as a cool down.
In this article we will discuss:
- What are Resting Positions in Yoga
- Benefits of Resting Poses
- Use of Props for Resting Positions in Yoga
- 12 Resting Positions in Yoga and When to Use Them
- A Yoga Practice With Resting Poses
What are Resting Positions in Yoga?
Resting poses in yoga are often seated, prone (laying on the stomach), or supine (laying on the back), since staying closer to the ground invites sensations of grounding, relaxing, letting go, and feeling stable, which allows for more release of tension, and access to rest.
Most styles of yoga will incorporate several of these resting poses and they will be utilized differently in sequencing in order to create space for practitioners to explore different physical, mental, and energetic benefits.
Resting positions in invigorating and energizing classes are often used as a break, as transitions, as well as cooling down asanas at the end of the practice.
For slower-paced styles like some Hatha sequences, Restorative Yoga, and Yin Yoga, resting postures often comprise the entirety of the sequence and they are often held for a longer period of time.
Benefits of Resting Poses
Depending on how long the pose is held, which pranayama techniques are paired with the poses and the practice, as well as what other postures are being practiced with it, resting positions in yoga can have a variety of benefits for the practitioner.
Finding space to rest during or at the end of the yoga practice, as well as using the entirety of the asana practice as a way to rest and relax, are very beneficial for individuals:
- Relax the muscles and tendons of the body
- Loosen up the fascia and connective tissues
- Invite mental relaxation
- Increase flexibility and range of motion
- Create space for variations and modifications
- Help regulate the nervous system
Use of Props for Resting Positions in Yoga
When the intent of practicing yoga asanas is to achieve maximum relaxation, a great tool to aid in this process is the use of props.
Some of the props that can be very useful when practicing these resting positions in yoga are:
- Yoga blocks
- Yoga blanket
- Yoga bolster
- Yoga strap
When using props to support your practice, you may have access to deeper relaxation as well as sometimes deeper sensation in certain postures, so get creative and explore what works for you.
12 Resting Positions in Yoga and When to Use Them
Let’s take a look at some of the most common resting positions in yoga and how they can benefit you physically, mentally, and beyond.
1# Balasana (child’s pose)
This prone posture is very calming and it activates the parasympathetic nervous system, getting us to feel more grounded and calm.
Balasana with a blanket: If your knees feel best with your hips away from your heels, grab a blanket, fold it up, and place it in between, resting your hips on the prop.
Balasana with a block: To support your forehead, bring a block on whatever setting you’d like in front of you, and rest your forehead on the block.
Take a few breaths in the shape, letting yourself relax.
2# Savasana (corpse pose)
Another posture that is great to calm the mind and release stress and helps regulate the nervous system, Savasana is an accessible resting position that can be practiced on the floor, and also laying down on your bed!
Savasana with a bolster: To release tension from the lower back, bend your knees and slide a prop, like a bolster, underneath.
Savasana with a blanket: if it’s wintertime or you like being extra cozy, use a blanket to cover your body up when you practice this resting pose.
Take a 10 to 15-minute Savasana for maximum relaxation.
3# Sukhasana (easy pose)
Easy pose is one of the most common yoga postures, since it is utilized for meditation, pranayama, and to access other asanas. This pose improves blood circulation in the lower body and encourages calmness of the mind.
Sukhasana with a block: when your hips feel tight and this shape is less than comfortable, elevate your hips by sitting at the edge of a block, bolster, or simply use a meditation cushion.
Sukhasana on a chair: For those unable to sit on the ground, practice easy pose seated on a stable chair.
4# Makarasana (crocodile pose)
The crocodile pose offers relaxation for the neck, shoulders, and spine, and gives you an opportunity to open up your back body in a gentle way.
Practice with a block under your forehead for more comfort.
5# Supta Baddha Konasana (reclined bound angle pose)
A posture that improves blood circulation and stimulates your heart, reclined bound angle is one of the resting positions in yoga that stretches the pelvic region, inner thighs, and knees and releases tension.
Reclined bound angle with a bolster: For a more yin-like experience, place a bolster underneath you when practicing this pose.
Reclined bound angle with blocks: If your hips feel tight, place blocks underneath the knees when practicing this pose in order to alleviate some of the tension.
6# Apanasana (wind-relieving posture)
Apanasana is one of the best resting positions in yoga for when you’re having difficulty digesting or feeling bloated.
If this posture is too intense for your low back, consider placing one foot on the floor, knee pointing up to the ceiling, and hug the other knee to the chest. Then switch sides.
7# Viparita Karani (legs up the wall pose)
Legs up the wall is one of the best resting positions in yoga to truly let go. It allows fresh, oxygenated blood to flow to the upper extremities and it stimulates the flow of lymphatic fluid.
If you don’t have a wall near you, practice this pose by simply laying down on your back, perhaps with a pillow under your lower back, and extending your legs up toward the ceiling.
8# Constructive Rest Pose
An accessible, supine posture, constructive rest brings your body in an optimal position to release the psoas and spine.
If you feel too much sensation on your psoas, bring blocks underneath your feet, or keep the knees a bit farther from one another.
9# Matsyasana (fish pose)
Another great resting shape in the supine position that is also a heart-opener, fish pose improves breathing and helps to relieve respiratory ailments while opening the front body.
For a more restorative version, lie down on a bolster when practicing this pose.
10# Upavistha Konasana (wide-legged seated forward fold)
One of the best resting positions in yoga that helps balance the root chakra, the wide-legged forward fold is also said to enhance focus, creativity, and productivity.
Upavistha Konasana with blocks: To decrease the intensity on the hamstrings, bend your knees and slide blocks underneath.
Upavistha Konasana with a blanket: with a similar approach as Sukhasana, if you find it difficult to keep your spine erect, sit on a blanket to help tilt your pelvis forward.
11# Supta Matsyendrasana (Supine Spinal Twist)
Known to clear mental fog and fatigue, soothe the mind, aid digestion, and promote calmness, the supine spinal twist can be accessed in a few ways, depending on what your body needs.
You can keep one leg extended, bend both knees, and even use a block under your knees to make the spinal twist less intense.
12# Paschimottanasana (seated forward bend)
One of the most popular resting positions in yoga, the seated forward fold provides a deep stretch for the entire back side of the body from the heels to the neck.
Practice it with your knees bent and a blanket underneath them to make the back body stretch more subtle.
A yoga practice with Resting Poses
To practice some of these resting poses, try this free restorative youtube class with Jessica Richburg:
There are many resting positions in yoga to explore, and the use of a variety of props as well as tapping into your creativity can make these postures truly relaxing and comforting.
Resting positions in yoga are often found at the end of stronger practices as a cool down, and they are also utilized in slower-paced classes like Restorative and Yin Yoga to create entire sequences.
To learn more about the restorative style of yoga and how it can benefit your life, read this article next.