There are times when life can seem fast and crazy and overwhelming. And it can be tempting to push harder and do more yourself in order to keep a sense of control over your future. This restorative yoga sequence is designed as a powerful reminder that you have incredible support available to you at all times.
A supportive practice is one of my favorite ways to be on the mat because it’s a reminder that you don’t need to work hard to receive what you want in life. Restorative yoga is a way to effortlessly line up with the health, intelligence, and happiness that naturally exists within.
And should that joy get clouded by the hustle and bustle of everyday life?
Then a restorative yoga sequence can shake off the resistance that holds you apart from alignment you seek. So settle in, and enjoy this practice today!
- A bolster
- A Blanket
- Two blocks (optional)
Photo Credit: Sewcream
(1) SEATED MEDITATION AND/OR BREATHING
Purpose: The goal of starting seated is to discover the current condition of the body. The moment you close your eyes, the thoughts in your head will become more vibrant. And, the sensations of the body will become more noticeable. Use this first period of stillness to check in and set an intention for the practice. This can be posing the simple question, “Where do I want more support in my life right now?”
Length: 3-7 minutes
Additional Notes: I suggest combining this time in a seated position with a guided meditation or led pranayama practice. You can start with a simple body scan. Or, you might want to find sama vritti–or same length of breath in and out–to transition from the events of the day to the present moment on the mat.
(2) VIPARITA KARANI
Purpose: A shift in perspective can be enhanced by a shift in body position. So, we’ll flip things upside down. Use legs up the wall pose to not only start to calm the nervous system of the body. But allow this posture to return the blood flow to the heart more efficiently as well. This pose is also is a reminder that you are supported by the ground beneath you, so rest in that knowing here.
Length: 5-7 minutes
- If the bolster is too much under the hips, simply omit it.
- Or, you can place a blanket under the hips for a less elevated version.
- The legs can also be placed on a chair in a bent position if that is more comfortable as well.
Purpose: Ahhhhh, child’s pose! An invitation to step back in time to when you were younger and felt entirely supported by the world around you. The worries of the world (likely) didn’t weigh on your shoulders and you knew your needs would be met. In fact, there probably wasn’t even a question about that. You were tapped in and highly connected to the Source from which we are infinitely tied.
So, remember that here as you rest in a supported child’s pose. Imagine the bolster beneath you is a loving embrace from your higher self (or God or Universe as a whole; whatever brings you a sense of being supported by a power far greater than yourself).
Length: 5-7 minutes total, turning head to the other side halfway through
- Use a bolster underneath the chest here, with the knees wide around it.
- You can also add blankets above the bolster, and/or blocks beneath it to get the perfect height just for you to feel supported in this restorative yoga pose.
(4) SUPPORTED TWIST
Purpose: This is another prone position, only this time we add a twist. Face down exposes the back, which can seem vulnerable. Trust that you are still supported by the weight of the bolster beneath you, and use the twisted element of this pose to wring out any remaining tension, anxiety, or overwhelm.
Again, how can you lean in to more support from the Universe here? How can you trust in your true freedom and power?
Length: 5 minutes each side
- This is similar to deer pose taken in yin yoga. However, you can have the legs closer together if that is more comfortable.
Adjust the height of the bolster as needed (same options apply as in child’s pose)
- You can stay upright for the first minute before folding in, and allow the hips to get heavier before you do.
- Make sure the head and neck are comfortable–don’t overexert any energy here!
Counter pose: You can sit up and windshield wiper the knees if that feels good between sides. Or, you might even take a cat/cow or down dog before moving on to the next pose.
(5) SUPPORTED SIDE STRETCH
Purpose: This supported side stretch is a way to breathe deeply into the lungs and side body. The liver meridian is one that runs up the right side of the body. It’s an important way to keep the energy flowing smoothly to your entire being. Embrace more calm and receptivity as the right side of the body is up.
The spleen meridian, which runs up the left side, can also get out of balance when under stress. This meridian is associated with faith, honesty, openness, acceptance, and truthfulness. So breathe in these attributes as you rest in the supported posture here.
Length: 5-7 minutes each side.
- Turn the bolster sideways, so the long edge is perpendicular to the spine. Then, make sure your arms are above the bolster.
- Depending on the height of the bolster, you might want to place a block under the head to keep the neck comfortable.
- You want to make sure the arm has a comfortable position here. The higher up it goes overhead, the more intense the side stretch becomes. So find an easy stretch–60% or so–that you can stay with over time.
- Or, start with the arm by the side, then move it overhead, and return back to the side … all before leaving the pose. The choice is up to you!
Purpose: We’re moving from more passive stretches on the floor, to a slightly more engaged seated one. Yes, you will still be supported in this restorative version, but you do need some energy to keep yourself upright.
The reason I’m bringing this in here is that you want to be a cooperative component of your life. You want to step in as a powerful creator and trust that as you move forward and take action, you are supported. Lean into this knowing as the entire back line of the body receives a stretch here.
Length: 5-7 minutes.
- A rolled blanket can go under the knees to soften the hamstring stretch.
- Students can also sit on a blanket to help the pelvis tilt forward.
- Just make sure you can have the head as relaxed as possible here.
(7) SUPPORTED SUPTA BADDHA KONASANA
Purpose: The time on the mat thus far has been about leaning in to the support of the bolster and the ground. Now, it’s time to open the heart from this foundation of trust. It makes you wonder just what you could accomplish if you knew you were supported. For, in fact, you are. And the intentions you have for yourself are celebrated by forces seen and unseen right now… and all components to make those a reality are coming into place. Breathe into the heart and rest in this deep sense of knowing.
Length: 5-7 minutes
- Students can adjust the level of support behind the torso as needed. Some many only want a roll behind the spine. Others may want simply a bolster behind the back with the blanket supporting the neck and head. Maybe layer the block, bolster and blanket to provide even more support still.
Purpose: I once heard a yoga instructor say that “a full and satisfying life is full of many births (or beginnings) as well as many, many deaths.” Savasana is the time in which we let the past die. It’s where we let go of what was, and embrace the present moment. This time in corpse pose is a time to nourish the new you that is becoming stronger and stronger each day. And in this time of rest, you garner the energetic blueprint to make that a reality.
Length: 5-7 minutes
Additional Notes: In line with the supported theme of this restorative class, I highly suggest you place the knees over your bolster, or even over blocks. This will provide even more ease for the low back.
PUTTING IT TOGETHER
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed and anxious in life. Instead of feeling alone, use this restorative yoga sequence and tap into greater support right now. You can do so with your breathing. You can also do so by increasing your awareness of the ground on which you stand or the firmness beneath your seat. Or, revel in this luxurious class to fully rest into the infinite support that is all around you now.
Take action now:
- Download this one-page restorative sequence now.
- Take this class with me on Swagtail’s YouTube Channel.
- Take 5 minutes and write down the ways in which you feel supported today (people, places, things, etc)