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Home Practice: A Pose A Day

March 8, 2011

Tuesday's pose: Supported seated forward bend. Via wholeliving.com

It would be wonderful if there were enough hours in each day for all of us to easily fit in a great workout, yoga practice, long walk or lengthy meditation session. But  the reality is that many days get away from us, without leaving much time to stretch and breathe.

Which is why we loved this set of restorative poses, one for each day, over at Whole Living. The idea is to only do one pose per day, at the end of each day, to help you unwind. Restorative yoga involves passive poses that you rest in for long periods of time—anywhere from five to 10 minutes—in order to stimulate and stretch your body’s connective tissues. This is a great way to bring back vitality and energy, and undo tension due to daily stress.

Take a few minutes in the evening every day this week to let yourself to sink into just one pose, and see how you feel: Does it increase your energy, help you unwind, make breathing feel a little easier?

Read on for the pose-a-day restorative guide, and click over to wholeliving.com for a photo gallery and more descriptions of each pose.

Via Whole Living magazine:

Sunday

Supported fish pose: Stretches the shoulders, neck, and chest; improves posture and deepens breathing, countering a forward hunch. Opens the heart and the throat chakras, bolstering courage and encouraging authentic expression.

How-to: Roll up a thin blanket and lie on your back, resting your shoulder blades on the blanket. If your head doesn’t comfortably reach the floor, place another blanket or small pillow underneath. Let your breath rise and fall naturally, and stay here for three to five minutes, or as long as you like.

Monday

Seal pose: Stretches the belly and aids digestion, restores the curve in the lower back, helps protect the spine from long hours of sitting.

How-to: Lie on your stomach with your legs and feet relaxed. Then, reaching your arms forward along the floor, straighten them just enough to lift your torso into a gentle backbend. Do not strain or force; this should be a very passive and subtle stretch. Hold for 3 to 5 breaths, then release. Repeat for one to five minutes.

Tuesday

Supported seated forward bend: Stretches hamstrings and inner thighs, releases tension along the spine. Quiets the mind and promotes focus, stimulates the sixth chakra, which activates intuition and wisdom.

How-to: Sit on a cushion on the floor with your legs extended on either side of a chair. Fold forward at the hips and rest your forehead and arms on the seat of the chair. Take deep, slow breaths through your nose and hold for three to five minutes.

Wednesday

Supported goddess: Releases tight hips, stretching the groin muscles; connects you to the grounding energy of the root chakra, located at the base of your spine.

How-to: Lie on your back with the bottoms of your feet touching and knees splayed to the sides, resting on pillows or rolled blankets. Feel your spine on the floor. Place your palms on your belly or rest your arms out to the sides, palms up. Let your belly slowly rise and fall with each breath. Remain here for three to five minutes, or however long you like.

Thursday

Supported pigeon: Opens the hips and groin, lets go of stress and pent-up emotions, quiets the mind, and promotes emotional release.

How-to:

Sitting cross-legged on the floor, swing your left leg around, extending it straight out behind you, tops of the feet and toes against the floor. Fold forward at the hips. For added support, put a folded blanket or pillow under the right hip. Rest your forehead on a cushion or blanket and relax into the pose for two to five minutes. Repeat with the other leg.

Friday

Supported child’s pose: Releases the muscles in the back, gently opens the hips, boosts your energy.

How-to: Sit back on your heels with your legs folded under you and the tops of your feet on the floor. Open the knees wide and bend forward at the hips. Rest your forehead (or your chest) on a pillow or blanket and keep your arms slightly bent. If your buttocks don’t reach your heels, place a blanket under your thighs. Relax and breathe deeply for three to five minutes.

Saturday

Supported reclined twist: Helps the whole body (hips, spine, digestive system, nervous system, shoulders, chest, etc.) unwind. Promotes digestion and detoxification.

How-to: Lie on your back, dropping your left knee across your body to rest on a pillow or blanket. Shift your hips right to avoid over-twisting the lower back. Rest your arms, elbows soft, on the floor over your head. Turn your head in whichever direction feels most comfortable and breathe into this gentle stretch for three to five minutes on each side.

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