8 Best Restorative Yoga Poses To Melt Stress Right Now

These poses reduce cortisol, pain, blood pressure, improve sleep, & much more

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Yoga comes with a whole bag of misconceptions. But these restorative yoga poses are here to alter your misconceptions.

You may have thought that you can’t do yoga right because your hips are too tight, or your arms are too short.

You may also think that yoga requires a “No pain – No gain” kind of attitude and that you have to sweat and work hard to get something out of it. 

But yoga is a personal journey and there is a yoga type suitable for you.

If you have injuries and need to go slow and have support in your practice, practicing Restorative Yoga Poses might be the answer.

In this article, we are going to dive into;

Let’s get into it!

Restorative Yoga Guide 8 Best Restorative Yoga Poses

The essentials of Restorative yoga Poses

Restorative yoga poses are a practice of asanas, each held for longer than in conventional yoga classes.

The practice is often done with the support of props, such as folded blankets, yoga blocks, belts, and cushions. 

The use of props is to support muscles and joints to help the body relax, and it makes restorative poses excellent for students with injuries, stress, or illness. 

The use of props allows you to stay in the poses for longer periods of time, often from 5 to 10 minutes.

Whereas other yoga styles of yoga such as Hatha, Vinyasa, and Ashtanga Yoga are active classes, Restorative Yoga offers no strengthening postures but allows your body to fully relax.

Your biggest challenge in a restorative yoga practice is calming and quietening the active mind and accepting doing nothing.

A Harvard study on insomnia found that people who practiced yoga for just eight weeks slept better and longer than those who didn’t practice.

benefits of Restorative Yoga Poses

Restorative Yoga has both physical and medical implications on your body and nervous system. There are loads of good reasons to mix your yoga program with a class of restorative yoga poses.

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Here are some of them:

  • Restorative yoga poses work therapeutically, as the body is allowed to rest and thereby heal itself.
  • Helps to create balance in the nervous system and releases muscle tension.
  • Support a healthy collaboration between body and mind.
  • Lowers blood pressure, creating a relaxation response.
  • Strengthened the immune system, connective tissue, and lymph fluids.
  • Lowered heart rate.
  • Better sleep.
  • Reduced chronic pain.
  • Lowers cortisol, lowering stress and soothing the fight or flight response.

8 BEST restorative yoga poses

1. Supported Child’s Pose (Bālāsana) 

This resting pose is a peaceful way to end a busy day, curling up in a ball, like a baby.

Props: bolster, blanket.

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How to do it:

  • Sit down on your heels, allow your buttocks to relax over your heels. Place a three folded blanket under your feet, (not too high).
  • Grab a bolster and place it between your knees. Ready for the pose.
  • Take a deep inhalation and as you exhale gently fold onto the bolster. Keep the deep breathing as you relax into the pose.
  • Stay in the pose between 3-5 min. 
  • To come out of the pose, press your arms on the floor and slowly bring yourself to a kneeling position. Shift your weight onto one hip and release your legs. 

Benefits of the pose:

  • Relieves shoulder tension. 
  • Quiets the mind and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system. 
  • Can be beneficial during menstruation cramps.

2. Supported Bridge pose (Setu Bandha Sarvangasana) 

Of all the restorative yoga poses, this one may just feel the best. Resting in this pose is both a relaxing and freeing experience in your mind and your spine.

Props: block.

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How to do it:

  • Come to lie on your back and bend your knees, place your feet hip-width apart with your feet close to your buttocks.
  • Grab a block and place it under your sacrum, (the large triangular bone at the base of the spine) on the lowest level of height (with the widest surface flat on the floor).
  • Place your arms alongside your body and use your deep belly breathing.
  • Hold the pose for 3-5 minutes.

Optional: You can move the block to a level higher, to stand on the long thin edge. and hold this variation for 3-5 minutes as well. 

  • Once you are settled in the pose you can begin to relax the supporting muscles and experience the stretch of the pose without effort.
  • To come out of the pose, come up on your toes and take the block away, then very slowly, lower your back down on the mat.
  • Once your tailbone is back in the mat, hug your knees to your chest and feel the relief in your lower back.

Benefits of the pose:

  • Helps to rest your heart.
  • Creates space for the diaphragms of the body to relax and move freely. 

3. Supported legs up the wall. (Viparita Karani)

This pose is beneficial for so many things that every yoga student should do it regardless of experience.

Props: bolster or blanket (three-folded).

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How to do the pose:

  • Place the bolster a few inches away from the wall. The bolster is for the support of your lower back. 
  • Sit sideways on the bolster with your right side against the wall, gently swing your legs up unto the wall and your shoulders and head down unto the floor. 
  • Adjust your body into the pose (coming into this pose can take some practice). Rest your sacrum and lower back on the bolster, melt your upper back into the yoga mat, and relax your legs up the wall.
  • Experiment until you find the placement that works for you. Shoulders in the mat and neck and scalp relaxed.
  • Stay in the pose for 5-10 minutes.

Benefits of the pose:

  • Brings relief to the legs, feet, spine, and nervous system. 
  • A gentle way to bring the body into a state of deep relaxation and renewal.
  • Regulates your respiratory system

4. Reclining Bound Angle Pose (Supta Baddha Konasana)

A wonderfully relaxed pose with many benefits.

Props: bolster, 2 blocks (if you don’t have a block or only one, a cushion can be used for this pose).

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How to do the pose:

  • Lay down on your back.
  • Bend the knees and pull your knees as close to the pelvis as you can. Place the soles of the feet together and open your knees to the side.
  • Place your knees on the floor. Place a block or a cushion under your knees to support your hips relaxing.
  • Open your arms to the side, palms facing up, and feel your shoulder blades relax into the mat. Deep belly breathing.

Option: To add more feeling of relaxation and protection you can take the bolster and place it on your torso, from the upper chest to the pelvis. This will comfort you even more.

  • Hold the pose for 5-10 min.

Benefits of the pose:

  • Increases blood circulation.
  • Relieves the symptoms of stress, anxiety.
  • Releases tight hips.

5. Thread the Needle Pose (Parsva Balasana) 

A healthy twist to improve well-being, digestion, and release shoulder tension.

Props: no props are needed for this pose.

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How to do the pose:

  • Start in the tabletop position (on your knees and hands).
  • Slide your left arm forward and extend your right arm out to your side so that it is straight and then thread your arm under your left arm until your right shoulder and ear are on the mat and your left arm is flat on the mat beneath you.
  • Hold this pose for up to a minute before planting your left hand in front of your face and pressing back into the tabletop position. Repeat on the other side.
  • Hold each side for 3 min. 

Benefits of the pose:

  • Effective release of back tension.
  • Naturally detoxes the body.
  • Relieves tension between the shoulder blades.

6. Supported Forward Fold (Paschimottanasana)

An awesome yoga pose that has a deep and calming effect on the nervous system.

Props: blanket and bolster and maybe a block.

Restorative Yoga Guide 8 Best Restorative Yoga Poses 8 1

How to do the pose:

  • Sit in a staff pose (Dandasana) with your legs straight.
  • Lift your knees and place a rolled blanket under your knee caps to support your hamstrings. 
  • Then place the bolster on our thighs and gently fold over the bolster. If your forehead doesn’t reach to touch the bolster, place a block or cushion to allow your mind to come to rest on it. 
  • Hold the pose for 5-10 min.
  • Slowly come out and sit back in staff pose for a few breaths.

Benefits of the pose:

  • Calms the brain and helps relieve stress.
  • Soothes headache and anxiety and reduces fatigue.
  • Stimulates the liver, kidneys, ovaries, and uterus.

7. Sleeping Pigeon Pose (Eka Pada Rajakapotasana)

This pose offers an excellent stretch to the hip area, where much of our stress is stored.

Props: bolster and block.

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How to do the pose:

  • Start on all fours in the tabletop pose and guide your right knee up toward your right wrist and your right foot will land somewhere between your left wrist and your left hip.
  • (the more parallel your shin is to the front edge of your mat the more difficult the posture will be ie. the closer your foot is to the left hip the easier the posture will be). 
  • Extend your left leg long straight back behind you.
  • From here you can place a block, a pillow or a book underneath your right hip (to keep your hips level)  and place your bolster lengthwise in front of you.
  • Fold over your bolsters and go into deep belly breathing. 
  • Stay in the pose for 3-5 minutes.
  • To come out of the pose, place your weight onto your active buttock and bring the extended leg forward.
  • Change side.

Benefits of this pose:

  • Stimulates the internal organs
  • Opens up the hip joint and provides flexibility to the body.
  • Offers an excellent stretch to the thighs,

8. Supported Fish Pose (Matsyasana)

The most relaxing pose to end a restorative yoga poses sequence – You’ll fall in love with it.

Props: bolster 

Restorative Yoga Guide 8 Best Restorative Yoga Poses

How to do the pose:

  • From Staff Pose (Dandasana), slowly lower onto the bolster.
  • Place your feet together and open your knees.
  • From here, externally rotate your arms so your palms face up.
  • Let your shoulders drape off the bolster.
  • Relax your face, throat, and jaws. Deep belly breathing.

Option: if you feel it too intensive to have your knees open, stretch your legs and let your feet fall open

  • Stay in this pose for 5-10 min.
  • To come out of the pose, roll off the bolster onto your right side. Rest here for a few breaths and slowly come back to seated. Follow up this pose with a savasana (corpse pose) at the end of a yoga class to further deepen your relaxation.

How to start?

Attend a restorative yoga class, and allow your teacher to adjust your restorative yoga poses and help you go deeper into the pose.

This way, you are shown that your body can move comfortably in ways that it doesn’t normally move. 

Check out more articles to deepen your yoga journey.

The 5 Best Yoga Positions To Help Period Cramps…

7 Yoga Poses For Stress Relief – Instant And Effective…

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Chalotte Fruergaard is a yogi elder, living in the country side in Denmark, where she has a yoga studio by the sea. She is passionate about bodywork, yoga and meditation and besides teaching yoga and leading retreats, she is a relationship coach and a spiritual mentor.

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